Adam Smith FRSE (baptised June 5, 1723 O. S. / June 16 N. S. – July 17,
1790) was a Scottish moral philosopher and a pioneering political economist.
He is also the founder of economics. One of the key figures of the
Intellectual movement known as the Scottish Enlightenment, he is
Known primarily as the author of two treatises: The Theory of Moral Sentiments
(1759), and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth
Of Nations (1776). The latter was one of the earliest attempts to systematically
Study the historical development of industry and commerce in
Europe, as well as a sustained attack on the doctrines of mercantilism.
Smith’s work helped to create the modern academic discipline of economics
And provided one of the best-known intellectual rationales for
Free trade, capitalism, and libertarianism. Adam Smith is now depicted
On the back of the Bank of England £20 note. Source: Wikipedia
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Introduction and plan of the work
The annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it
With all the necessaries and conveniencies of life which it annually consumes,
And which consist always either in the immediate produce of that
Labour, or in what is purchased with that produce from other nations.
According, therefore, as this produce, or what is purchased with it,
Bears a greater or smaller proportion to the number of those who are to
Consume it, the nation will be better or worse supplied with all the necessaries
And conveniencies for which it has occasion.
But this proportion must in every nation be regulated by two different
Circumstances: first, by the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which its
Labour is generally applied;
and, secondly, by the proportion between
The number of those who are employed in useful labour, and that of
Those who are not so employed. Whatever be the soil, climate, or extent
Of territory of any particular nation, the abundance or scantiness of its
Annual supply must, in that particular situation, depend upon those two
The abundance or scantiness of this supply, too, seems to depend
More upon the former of those two circumstances than upon the latter.
Among the savage nations of hunters and fishers, every individual who
Is able to work is more or less employed in useful labour, and endeavours
To provide, as well as he can, the necessaries and conveniencies of
Life, for himself, and such of his family or tribe as are either too old, or
Too young, or too infirm, to go a-hunting and fishing. Such nations,
However, are so miserably poor, that, from mere want, they are frequently
Reduced, or at least think themselves reduced, to the necessity
Sometimes of directly destroying, and sometimes of abandoning their infants,
Their old people, and those afflicted with lingering diseases, to perish
With hunger, or to be devoured by wild beasts. Among civilized and
Thriving nations, on the contrary, though a great number of people do
Not labour at all, many of whom consume the produce of ten times, frequently
Of a hundred times, more labour than the greater part of those
Who work; yet the produce of the whole labour of the society is so great,