The Scottish Connection: Adam Smith, Charles Darwin and Andrew Carnegie

It might be pure coincidence, but the three notables mentioned defined and/or revolutionized very important areas of knowledge and human activity.

Adam Smith (1723-1790) the undisputed father of economics –to whom a previous post was dedicated– established the foundations of that area of knowledge with his seminal book, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). He was born and lived most of his life in Edinburgh.

Charles Darwin (1809-1862) revolutionized biology with his momentous theory of the evolution of species. Like Smith, he was also born, and lived most of his life in Edinburgh.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) –born in Scotland, in Dunfermline, northwest of Edinburgh– was probably the first philanthropist in the world to go loud, public and wholeheartedly into devoting his life in this direction, setting an utmost precedent for future generations.

The profound personal transformation that Andrew Carnegie experienced –being one of the wealthiest industrialists in the world and becoming an ardent practitioner and advocate of philanthropy– was unprecedented. In his early 30s, Carnegie began to manifest a marked spiritual search centered on helping others, on a mass scale, while simultaneously detaching himself from material wealth.  In those years, he drafted a memo to himself that read, among other concepts: “ …the man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.”

The philanthropic work of Carnegie is legendary. Faithful to his strong beliefs, it is estimated that by the time of his death he had given away as much as 98% of his personal wealth. He reputedly helped open over 2,800 libraries. Devoted to learning, in 1904 Carnegie founded the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, now the Carnegie-Mellon University. One of Carnegie’s major philanthropic interests was world peace; towards that end, in 1910 he established the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Most contemporary praiseworthy philanthropists can trace back their ideological roots to this great human being.

In summary, the Scottish lands were the birthplace of three outstanding characters:

  • The father of economics

  • The redefiner of biology

  • The pioneer in large-scale-high-visibility philanthropy

It is truly remarkable and unusual for a single region to have produced such outstanding set of minds, within a time window of a little over a century.

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About Martin Marmolejo

Global Investment Manager | Founder & Managing Director at MMA Global Investment Management | Proud husband and father | Follow me @globalmarmolejo.

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  1. […] By Martin Marmolejo Leave a Comment TweetTwo months ago, on May 3, we posted an article titled ¨The Scottish Connection: ¨Adam Smith, Charles Darwin and Andrew Carnegie”. A view of the Large Hadron Collider) in its tunnel at CERN near Geneva, […]

  2. […] The Scottish born economist and statesman was the chief architect behind Hong Kong’s spectacular rise from poverty to prosperity. He was Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary between 1961 and 1971, and a worthy disciple of Adam Smith (coincidently, also a fellow  Scot—read our post The Scottish Connection). […]

  3. […] history, Scotland has produced very bright people. Among them, Adam Smith, deservedly known as the father of economics. The big irony being that in […]

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