Adam Smith is considered the originator of modern economics, writing The Theory of Moral Sentiments in 1759 and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations in 1776. He is one of the leading lights of the Scottish Enlightenment, and a contemporary and friend of David Hume. Smith expounded upon how rational self-interest and competition can lead to economic prosperity.
A considerable part of his career was spent as an academic at Glasgow University. He considered Scottish universities superior to their English counterparts, partly because of his unhappy experience studying at Oxford University. He spend a large part of his career teaching at Glasgow University, with students including James Boswell.
He was a member of the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh, one of the founding members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and from 1787 to 1789 occupied the honorary position of Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow.
His writing, particularly Wealth of Nations, is the cornerstone of free market economics, and is a foundation of the teaching of economics today.
He is commemorated in Edinburgh with a statue on the Royal Mile, and is buried in the Canongate Kirk graveyard.