Smith's eloquent advocacy of natural liberty fired the minds of a
rising generation. His words literally changed the course of
politics, dismantling the old mercantilist doctrines of
protectionism and human bondage. Much of the worldwide move toward
free trade can be attributed to Adam Smith's work. The Wealth of
Nations was the ideal document to accompany the industrial
revolution and the political rights of man.
Smith's magnum opus has received almost universal acclaim. H.L.
Mencken stated, "There is no more engrossing book in the English
language" (Powell 2000: 251). Historian Arnold Toynbee asserted that
"The Wealth of Nations and the steam engine destroyed the old world
and built a new one" (Rashid 1998: 212). The English historian Henry
Thomas Buckle stretched the hyperbole even further to claim that, in
terms of its ultimate influence, Smith's tome "is probably the most
important book that has ever been written," including the Bible (Rogge
1976: 9). Paul A. Samuelson placed Smith "on a pinnacle" among
economists (Samuelson 1962: 7).
sometimes extol the virtues of Adam Smith.