Adam Smith's inaugural lecture now available online
16 May 2022
A recording of Adam Smith's inaugural lecture as Edward Orsborn Professor of US Politics and Political History is now available on the RAI YouTube channel. The lecture was delivered on 25 April 2022 in the Examination Schools.
In the 1860s, the United States underwent a violent revolution. Four and a half million enslaved people were freed, three quarters of a million people died, billions of dollars’ worth of property was expropriated, and the constitutional order remade. Yet in this lecture, Adam Smith argues that we can only understand these radical changes within the context of a politics that prioritised preservation of existing institutions and venerated the Republic’s founding moment, that embraced the future while being anchored in the past. The American Civil War provides a case study in how and why radical means can be harnessed for conservative ends.
Adam Smith's specialism is the American Civil War, its causes and consequences, as well as democratic politics in broader settings. He taught at University College London (UCL) between 2002 and 2019, taking up his current post as Orsborn Professor and Director of the RAI in Michaelmas term 2019.