Adam Smith and Slavery - Insight Talk

Issued: Mon, 27 Jan 2020 11:00:00 GMT

A photo of an opened page of the book, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations  Adam Smith, Glasgow: 1805.   University of Glasgow Library, Sp Coll 81.d.10-13  

Economist and Glasgow alumnus Adam Smith published "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations" in 1776.

In the same year, European enslavers kidnapped and forcibly transported an estimated 80,000 Africans across the Atlantic.

In the midst of this horrific traffic, Smith’s book - a fundamental work in classical economics - presented the economic argument for the abolition of slavery.

Renowned economist and Principal of the University of Glasgow, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, will elaborate on his insight into the relationship between Smith and slavery, focusing on a first edition of the text held in the University of Glasgow Special Collections.

A photograph of the University of Glasgow's Principal Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli

This Insight Talk is part of a series of public lectures held at the University around an exhibition currently on display in the University Memorial Chapel called Call and Response: The University of Glasgow and Slavery

In September 2018, the University of Glasgow published a comprehensive report into the institution’s historical links with racial slavery. The report - Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow  - also set out a reparative justice programme which the exhibition is part of.

All are welcome to the University Chapel at 1.10pm on Tuesday, 28 January 2020 for Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli's Insight Talk.


Insight Talk - Adam Smith and Slavery
  • Date: Tuesday 28 January 2020
  • Time:  1.10pm
  • Speaker:  Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal of the University of Glasgow
  • Venue: University Memorial Chapel, Main Campus, University of Glasgow University Avenue, Glasgow G12 8QQ
Adam Smith (1723 – 1790)

Adam Smith (1723? – 1790) was a student and professor at the University of Glasgow, and is considered to be the father of modern economics. The Wealth of Nations, as it is commonly known, was first published in London in 1776. In the book, Smith argued that slavery was highly inefficient, implying that freeing slavery would make production more efficient and that both slaves and their masters could be made better off without slavery.