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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 9 (February 25, 1927)

Adam Smith

Adam Smith.

Adam Smith was one of the world's great pioneers in the field of economics and the celebrated author of the “Inquiry into the nature and causes of the Wealth of Nations.” This epoch-making work appeared in 1776, and was immediately translated into nearly every European language. In this work Adam Smith gave the world the first expression of the true principle of taxation as follows:—

The subjects of every State ought to contribute towards the support of the Government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities, that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the State.

Adam Smith was born on 5th June, 1723, and was educated at Kircaldy Burgh School, also at Glasgow and Oxford Universities. In 1751 he became Professor of Logic at Glasgow University, becoming in the following year, the Professor of Moral Philosophy. From 1760 to 1762 he was dean of the Faculty, and in the latter year also was appointed Vice-Rector of the University. He subsequently acted for three years as tutor to the young Duke of Bucclcuch. He was admitted to the Royal Society in 1767 and later was appointed Commissioner of Customs, and Lord Rector of Glasgow University. The work of the famous economist has had a far-reaching influence on economic thought. He died in 1790.

The name and life's work of George Stephenson the inventor of the steam locomotive and the founder of railways needs little mention to the readers of the “New Zealand Railways Magazine.” Born in 1781 the son of a fireman at Wylam, near Newcastle, Stephenson received very little education. In early life he was sent to work on a farm where he earned twelve shillings per week.

Stephenson's first locomotive was tried out in 1814 with results that fulfilled his best expectations. The great engineer's next mechanical triumph was to build his famous “Rocket” and to give a practical demonstration to the England of a hundred years ago of the immense possibilities of railway transportation. The “Rocket” in 1825 drew its appointed load of passengers over the Stockton and Darlington railway to the shouts and cheers of the multitude. Stephenson's success was complete. He had enriched the world with an idea of extraordinary utility; the era of railways had commenced, enabling man to simplify his existence and to spread civilisation, commerce and culture throughout the world. Stephenson occupied the highest positions in connection with the development of Britain's early railways, and was the first president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He died at Chesterfield in 1879.