Enlightenment Scotland: Adam Smith’s Grave at Canongate Kirkyard

Canongate Kirk on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

Here in Edinburgh, where I’ve returned to University to earn my Master’s degree, I love to visit sites and monuments associated with the Enlightenment. As a lover of philosophy, the rich intellectual history of this city first brought me here: I followed (and still do) in the footsteps of David Hume for my first traveling philosophy/history of ideas series for O.P. I think it’s high time I share more of my explorations with you!

I’ll start with my visit yesterday afternoon to the great moral philosopher and economist Adam Smith‘s grave in Canongate Kirkyard on the Royal Mile. The lovely Kirk of the Canongate was built form 1688-1691, and is quite different in style than the other buildings on the Royal Mile. The graveyard behind it, however, is very like many others to be found behind kirks all over and around this great city, and includes the gravesites of many great Scots.

Canongate Kirkyard on the Royal Mile with Adam Smith’s grave center-left, Edinburgh, Scotland

Adam Smith’s grave in Canongate Kirkyard on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland. Many of Adam Smith’s moral and political theories, and his ideas on trade and economics, were developed from the ideas of his great friend and mentor David Hume.

Canongate Kirk on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

List of famous people buried at Canongate Kirkyard on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

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Photobook: Missouri Constitutional Rights Flag Captured by Union Soldiers on June 14th, 1861

Missouri Constitutional Rights Flag captured by Union soldiers on June 14th, 1861, Old State Capitol Building, Springfield, Illinois.

The claim that the Southern states seceded primarily over the Constitutional issue of states’ rights issues is an oft-repeated one, and I think a troubling one for many reasons. For one thing, it’s part of a long tradition of trying to sidestep or minimize the problems of race-based slavery and the resulting intransigent racism that has plagued our country since its formative years, often on the part of people who don’t want to support laws that promote racial equality. For another, this states’ rights claim was as disingenuous then as it is now: the Southern states seceded not because the federal government was trying to stop slavery in their states. There was, as yet, no concerted attempt to do so. They were incensed that the federal government, in their view, was not doing enough to enforce the legal right to own slaves in free states: by forcing local governments and private individuals, against their own philosophical and religious convictions, to return escaped slaves; to allow slaveowners to retain their rights to own slaves when they traveled and even moved to free states; and to extend the rights to own slaves to new territories.

Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and ad-free, supported by patrons and readers like you. Please offer your support today!

Photobook: Knockin’ on Freedom’s Door at Moses and Lucy Pettingill’s House Site in Peoria, Illinois

Preston Jackson‘s Knockin’ on Freedom’s Door sculpture (detail) at the former site of the Pettengill House, Peoria, Illinois’ station on the Underground Railroad. Lucy and Moses Pettingill were ardent abolitionists and fellow Whigs with Abraham Lincoln, their close friend. The Pettingills would host Whig meetings at this house as well. The Pettingills were also co-founders of the original Presbyterian church in Peoria. Lincoln spoke on at least one occasion, and probably more, at the Main Street Presbyterian Church. The sculpture was dedicated on October 24th, 2008

Preston Jackson’s sculpture Knockin’ on Freedom’s Door at the site of the Pettengill House Underground Railroad stop near what used to be the intersection of Liberty and Jackson, Peoria, Illinois. The sculpture appears to represent two things. One, the long, lean, somewhat stooping figure of Abraham Lincoln. Two, the road north, on which we see figures of people helping each other to escape from slavery. In this interpretation, Lincoln’s face, solicitously gazing south at the scenes along the road, seems to represent the North Star

Historical and informational plaques at site of the Pettengill House, the Underground Railroad station for Peoria near what used to be the intersection of Liberty and Jackson

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Sources and inspiration:

Panetta, Gary. ‘Pettengills Worked in Peoria to End Slavery.’ Peoria Journal Star, Oct 18, 2008

Thompson, Katie. ‘The Long Road to Freedom: Peoria and the Underground Railroad.’ Peoria Magazine, Jan/Feb 2008

 

Photobook: Frederick Douglass and Edinburgh, Old and New

Detail of Edinburgh Old and New by David Octavius Hill, 1847, photo by Amy Cools at the Hill & Adamson photography Exhibit at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, September 2017. In this view, the Firth of Forth is in the background, Calton Hill is at the right, Princes Street runs along the center at an angle with the Scott Monument at the center, and the Scottish National Gallery is at left, as seen from Edinburgh Castle.

Frederick Douglass wrote to William White on July 30th, 1846

‘I am now in Edinburgh. It is the capital of Scotland – and it is justly regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. I never saw one with which for beauty, elegance, and grandeur to compare it… The Monument to Sir Walter Scott – on Princes Street, is just one conglomeration of architectural beauties. The Calton Hill – Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat give the city advantages over any city I have visited in this or in your country.’

The Scott Monument was finished just two years before Douglass’ visit. I walk near or among all of these places that Douglass writes of no less than several times a week. Oh, the wonder of it! – In the Main Reading Room of the National Library of Scotland with The Frederick Douglass Papers, Series III: Correspondence. Volume 1: 1842-1852, ed. John R. McKivigan.

Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and ad-free, supported by patrons and readers like you. Please offer your support today!

Photobook: Joseph Priestley’s Chemical Flask

Joseph Priestley’s chemical flask at the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C. I took this photo while on the first of my Thomas Jefferson history of ideas tours, 2015. Priestly discovered oxygen on this day, August 1, in 1774 (not 1775 as the placard says) and he became most famous for his discovery since he was the first to publish a description of it. It was, however, first discovered two years earlier by a Swedish chemist, Carl Wilhelm Scheele, independently.

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Photobook: John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, CA, continued

John Muir’s bedroom at John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA

Yesterday, I published a piece in honor of John Muir’s birthday. Muir was the great naturalist and writer who, perhaps more than any other single individual, awoke America’s consciousness to the sacredness and essential value of the unspoiled natural world. Here are a few more photos from my visit to his home at John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, CA.

Enjoy!

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The Muir family home built by Dr. John Strentzel at John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA

An orchard at John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA. They are beautifully maintained and visitors may wander the orchards and eat the fruit at will.

Dr John Strentzel’s pomegranate trees in bloom at John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA

Vicente Martinez Adobe, built in 1849, on the grounds at the John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA

Vicente Martinez Adobe plaque at the John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA

The living room of the big house, John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA. Louie Muir was an expert piano player, having learned as part of her excellent education in lovely Benicia, just across the Carquinez Strait from Martinez

The kitchen at John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA

Inside the bell tower of the big house at John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA. From this tower, one has an excellent view of the surrounding orchards.

Photobook: Benjamin Franklin’s Grave in Old Town Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Benjamin Franklin‘s grave in Christ Church Burial Ground at Arch and 5th Streets, Old Town Philadelphia, PA. I took this photo while on the first of my Thomas Jefferson history of ideas tours, 2015. Franklin died on this day, April 17th, in 1790 here in Philadelphia. Scroll down for more…

Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and ad-free, supported by patrons and readers like you. Please offer your support today!