Smith, Adam. The Wealth of Nations (Excerpts). Modified from the Modern History Internet Sourcebook. 1776. Fordham University. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/adamsmith-summary.asp (accessed September 18, 2013).
This excerpt of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations explains Smith’s theories on the division of labor and the invisible hand of the free market. Adam Smith was a Scottish political economist in the eighteenth century, author of many acclaimed books about economics, a graduate of Oxford University, and a professor and dean of moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow. Smith also met Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and other Enlightenment thinkers that inspired his philosophies. He is also known as the father of capitalism. In this excerpt, Smith is trying to convince the reader of the benefits of a free market economy and explain how it works. This document was written in 1776; a time when the American Revolution was ending and the French Revolution was starting and people wanted freedom and no absolute ruler. In the excerpt, Smith explains how division of labor benefits the economy. It allows the production of goods to be more efficient and people to do more work because of the invention of machines and factories. He also explains how self-interest balances the economy by driving people to produce goods in a higher demand. He says that this supply and demand is only possible with division of labor. Adam Smith convinces the reader of the benefits of division of labor by using many examples and positive language.
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