Today is Adam Smith’s birthday: 1723, so he would be 292 today.

Well, at least we think so.

His birth was registered at the church in Kirkcaldy, Scotland (just across the Firth of Forth north of Edinburgh, not 10 miles as the crow flies) on 5 June 1723, so educated guesses place his actual birth on 3 June 1723.

But the British Empire (including at the time the eastern part of the US) enacted the Calendar (New Style) Act of 1750, which adopted the Gregorian calendar effective in 1752. The Gregorian calendar, those of you up on your papal history will recall, was decreed by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, but, being pope, his jurisdiction did not extend to Protestant countries. Hence Britain’s ability to remain on the civil calendar for a couple of centuries.

In any event, when the Gregorian calendar kicked in, in September 1752, synchronization required an 11-day correction: Wednesday 2 September 1752 was followed by Thursday 14 September 1752.

So: 3 June 1723 (civil) equates to 14 June (Gregorian).

I deem his birthday today. And I’m sticking with it.



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