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Adam Smith Statue, Royal Mile, Edinburgh.

About 4.0m people visit Edinburgh each year the vast majority of which will explore the famous Royal Mile near the top of which is a statue of Adam Smith which stands close to St Giles’ Cathedral. Unfortunately, only a tiny fraction of these visitors will have heard of Adam Smith who was, arguably, the first economist and whose writings were instrumental in policies which generated huge wealth and personal liberty through free trade from the 19th century onwards right through to modern-day. There is another monument to Smith in form of a grave-maker near the bottom of the Royal Mile in the burial ground of Canongate Kirk.

Who was Adam Smith?

Adam Smith was a Scottish political economist and philosopher. He has become famous from his influential book The Wealth of Nations (1776).

Smith was the son of the Comptroller of the Customs at Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland. The exact date of his birth is unknown. However, he was baptized at Kirkcaldy on June 5, 1723, his father having died some six months previously.

Here is a summary of Adam Smith’s life:

  • Attended Glasgow University at age about 15 years where he studied moral philosophy.
  • Entered Balliol College, Oxford, England in 1740.
  • In 1748 began delivering lectures in Edinburgh which by his mid or late 20s had evolved to expound his economic philosophy of natural liberty which subsequently formed the kernel of his  Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
  • In 1751 Smith was appointed professor of logic at Glasgow university, transferring in 1752 to the chair of moral philosophy.
  • In late 1763 Smith obtained a lucrative post as tutor to the young Duke of Buccleuch.
  • From 1764 to 1766 he travelled with his pupil, mainly in France where he connected with local intellectual leaders.
  • On return to Kirkaldy, Scotland he devoted much of the following ten years to his magnus opus which was published in 1776.
  • In 1778 Smith was appointed Commissioner of Customs in Scotland and moved to Edinburgh.
  • Smith died at Edinburgh on July 17th 1790 following a painful illness.

The importance of Adam Smith

His Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth Of Nations (1776), is considered to be one of the most influential books ever written.He argued that free trade was a far superior means to generating prosperity compared with the extensive system of elaborate tariffs and controls which then existed.

Smith’s ideas had profound influence on politicians of the time which in turn laid the foundation for economic expansion based on free trade which drove wealth creation from the 19th century onwards.

Smith’s grave-marker at Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh.

Famous alumni-including Smith- recorded in gates of Glasgow University.

Gorbals Architecture

Tonight, I am providing information a prospective tour itinerary covering Glasgow’s Gorbals district and environs.

First stop at the People’s Palace (1898) on Glasgow Green. Latter comprises a museum focused on the social history of Glasgow with a winter gardens attached which is home to exotic plants and a cafe.

Close to the Peoples Palace can be found the Doulton Fountain (1888), world’s largest terracotta fountain and the Templeton Carpet Factory (1892) which was modelled on the Doge’s Palace in Venice.

Winter Garden, Glasgow Green

People’s Palace, Glasgow Green

Next, walk across Glasgow Green, passing historic clothes drying poles where locals hung out washing to dry until the 1970s,then over St Andrews Suspension Bridge (1855) which spans the River Clyde from where a grain whisky distillery can seen.

Clothes Poles, Glasgow Green

Doulton Fountain, Glasgow Green.

Templeton Carpet Factory, Glasgow Green. 

View from St Andrews Bridge

Strathclyde Grain Distillery

On reaching the Gorbals take time to view the modern and attractive architecture, a major improvement on the appalling living conditions of the 1930s.

The Gorbals has a history dating back to the 13th century subsequent to which:

  • It was home to a leper colony in the 14th century.
  • Grew in the Middle Ages and gained a reputation for gun manufacture plus weaving, skinning and metal working.
  • Became industrialised in the 19th century with coal mining, a canal and a railway.
  • Became home to thousands of Jewish refugees in the 19th century .
  • Suffered from high unemployment due to industrial decline in the 20th century.
  • Experienced depopulation in the 20th century with population dropping from 85,000 in 1931 to about 8800 now.

Gorbals Architecture

St Francis Community Centre.

Gorbals Boys Public Art

Gorbals Architecture.

Gorbals Architecture, Glasgow


Street Statue, Gorbals, Glasgow

Gorbals Architecture

Next to the nearby Southern Necropolis, a massive cemetery which holds 250,000 burials.

Entrance to Southern Necropolis

Allan Pinkerton with Abraham Lincoln.

This evening, I am providing information on Scotsman, Allan Pinkerton (1819-1884) who emigrated to the United States and later founded the  Pinkerton National Detective Agency. The agency’s well-known motto was “We never sleep”.

Pinkerton was born at Muirhead Street near the Gorbals Cross. The Gorbals region became socially deprived and was substantially rebuilt in the 20th century as a consequence of which Muirhead Street no longer exists.

Roy, David and Gary Pinkerton are descendants of Allan Pinkerton still residing in Scotland.

Summary Information on Allan Pinkerton.

  • Emigrated to U.S.A. in 1842 and established a barrel-making shop near Chicago.This was also a “station” for slaves escaping to the North.
  • Chance discovery of coin counterfeiters led to Pinkerton being appointed as deputy sheriff of Kane County and, later, as Chicago’s first full-time detective.
  • Pinkerton subsequently established his own organisation, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, which provided a wide array of private detective services and specialized in the capture of train robbers and counterfeiters.
  • By the 1870s Pinkerton’s organisation had established a considerable criminal database.
  • In 1861 Pinkerton uncovered a plot to assassinate President Lincoln.He forewarned the President who was able to take evasive action.
  • Pinkerton was charged by Lincoln with establishing a “secret service” to glean military intelligence about the Confederates during the Civil War.
  • After the Civil War, in 1865, Pinkerton resumed management of his detective agency which, by the late 1800s, had extended to anti-union strike breaking and occasional violence.

Pinkerton memorial at Cleland Street Underpass, Gorbals, Glasgow..