By Julia Horton (July 5 2008)

 

he stern expression on Adam Smith’s face suggests the great man is not entirely pleased to have been returned to Edinburgh at last in statue form.

But yesterday, supporters of the so-called “father of economics”, were celebrating as the world’s first public monument to him was finally unveiled in the capital.

Gazing out from what used to be a marketplace on the Royal Mile to the once busy port of Leith, the statue reflects his pioneering philosophy on free trade which forms the basis of the modern market economy.

Around 200 invited guests, including former Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth, and curious tourists, crowded around as the Adam Smith Institute revealed the monument yesterday.

Dr Eamonn Butler, the institute’s director, said: “It’s taken a long time for Scotland to honour somebody who was probably the most influential person that Scotland has ever produced. But now we are doing so with a particularly fine statue in a particularly appropriate spot.

“The statue is across the road from where he used to work, in line of sight with his great friend David Hume and looks down the Royal Mile to the Canongate, where he lived, and across to Fife, where he was born.”

The statue was unveiled by modern day economist and Nobel Prize winner Professor Vernon Smith.

The American professor said it was a “tremendous honour” to be asked to unveil the statue, particularly on Independence Day.

He said many of the ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment, economic ideas, were transferred to the USA.

Smith’s reputation as a great economist and philosopher was cemented through his work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, which was first published in 1776. In it he championed the idea that people’s natural self-interest and competition could produce wealth for the common good. His theories led to the modern market economy that now dominates the free world.

The monument, a 10ft bronze statue on a stone plinth, cost around £333,000 and was funded through subscriptions organised by the institute.

It was created by Scotland’s leading monumental sculptor, Alexander Stoddart who spent a year modelling the work, which features a beehive and plough in reference to Smith’s ideas about economics and events such as the industrial revolution.

Pulished by The Herald

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