On the 4th of July 2008, the ASI unveiled the world's first major public monument to Adam Smith – the great Scottish economist, philosopher, and author of The Wealth of Nations.
The monument, which takes the form of a 10-foot bronze statue on a massive stone plinth, sits on Edinburgh's Royal Mile – right in the heart of Scotland's capital city, where Adam Smith worked and died. The statue was created by Alexander Stoddart, Scotland's leading monumental sculptor, and was unveiled by Nobel Laureate Economist Professor Vernon L. Smith.
The statue's position – in an ancient marketplace – could hardly be more appropriate. The monument is within view of the recent statue of Smith’s friend David Hume, looking downhill to the Canongate (where Smith is lived and is buried), towards the harbour of Leith (with its connotations of trade and commerce), and over the sea to the county of Fife, where Smith was born.
The Statue shows Smith in later life — he spent his last years in Edinburgh — but still strong. Behind him is a plough, modelled from a contemporary plough in the Scottish Farming Museum, reminding us of the agrarian economics which Smith supplanted. Before him is a beehive, a symbol of the industry on which he believed progress was based. On top is a globe on which Smith rests his hand — made invisible by his academic gown. The gown itself reminds us of Smith the philosopher, exploring eternal ideas; and behind, St. Giles’s Cathedral completes the evocation. From the other side, we see Smith’s 18thC dress, with the City Chambers beyond, reminding us of Smith the economist, dealing with practical matters. His neckware is modelled on that worn by Thomas Jefferson, his wig is based on one of George Washington’s — recalling Smith’s strong support for free trade with America.
As Dr Eamonn Butler, the director of the ASI, said:
This honour is long overdue. As author of The Wealth of Nations (1776), Adam Smith was the pioneer of what today we call economics. He championed the benefits of specialization and free trade, creating the very idea of the modern market economy that dominates the free world today.
The Adam Smith Statue was funded entirely by private donations. We would like to thank all of the statue's sponsors for their generous support.