Portrait of Adam Smith

Adam Smith on Slavery

Found in: Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue and Arms (1763)

This quotation is taken from Smith’s Lectures on Jurisprudence and reflects his own disgust with what he saw as the immoral institution of slavery. It is a good example of the moral philosophy he expounds in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, in which our sympathy for our fellow human beings forms the basis for moral behavior.

Colonies, Slavery & Abolition

By this we may see what a miserable life the slaves must have led; their life and their property intirely at the mercy of another, and their liberty, if they could be said to have any, at his disposall also. But besides these hardships which are commonly taken notice of by writers, they laboured under severall others which are not so generally attended to. (FROM LJ(A) iii.94) - Adam Smith