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J. Polk

 

 

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Andrew Carnegie

 

 

Flora MacDonald

 


Scots In America - Great American Scots

At least 11 Presidents of the USA were of Scots ancestry including McKinley, Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Polk, Lyndon B. Johnson and Ulysses Grant, who incidentally visited Scotland after he ceased to be President. There is a street in Scotland that is named after him.

John Macintosh, developer of the Mackintosh red apple, was born in New York State: his father emigrated to the US from Inverness. Apple Computers have named a range of computers after him.

US dentist William Morton, who pioneered the use of anaesthesia, was of Scottish descent.

Harvard Medical School was founded by three doctors - of the three, only Dr Benjamin Waterhouse, a graduate of the medical school at Edinburgh University, was a qualified doctor.

Ayrshire born Robert Gibson Eccles emigrated to the US where, in 1848, he discovered the properties of benzoic acid and benzoate as a food preservative.

Distinguished US scientist Samuel Guthrie (1728-1848) was of Scots descent. He was one of the pioneers of vaccination and in 1831 discovered chloroform.

Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) is one of the most influential Scots in American history. His father was Scottish and he himself was born in the British colony of Nevis, located in the West Indies. One of the main authors of the Federalist essays - instrumental in the forming of the Constitution - he became the first US Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton developed an impressive and effective financial plan that created immediate faith in the government of a new nation.

On the bench of the first sitting of the Supreme Court in 1789 sat two Scottish Americans - John Blair and James Wilson. Two of the jurists present on this case were also of Scottish descent, John Rutledge and John Marshall. These jurors served as second and third justices of the court.

Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, was the grandson of a Scottish Presbyterian minister. His term of office was an exemplary one, fighting for the cause of the common man and promoting the Scottish belief in a strong education system for the people of the county.

First American Secretary of War was a Scot named General Henry Knox, he was appointed in 1785.

General Winfield Scott was the grandson of a Scot who fought at the Battle of Culloden. He became the commanding general of the American forces during the Mexican War of 1846-48.

James Blair (1656-1743) (left), was the first president and founder of the College of William and Mary; he emigrated from Scotland in 1685.

Alexander Wilson, who emigrated from Scotland in 1794, was the first person to study North American birds. He was the author of the first seven volumes of the American Ornithology.

Scottish medical knowledge and training was the best in Europe during the mid-17th Century and many of the recipients travelled to the New World, bringing their advanced education with them. Washington's surgeon at the army fort in Winchester, Virginia was the Edinburgh trained James Craik, originally from Dumfriesshire. His exemplary service record prompted Washington to promote him to physician and surgeon of the whole US army in 1781. It was Craik, a close personal friend of the president, who diagnosed his final illness and treated him till his last hours. A mark of the esteem, in which he was held by Washington, was that he was remembered in his will: "To my compatriot in arms, and old and intimate friend, Dr Craik, I give my bureau (or, as the cabinet makers call it, tambour secretary), and the cabinet chair, an appendage of my study."

Flora MacDonald, the girl who helped the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart, escape from his redcoat pursuers in the days after Culloden, ended her days in the Carolinas. She believed that Scottish emigration offered a chance, "To begin the world again, anew, in a new corner of it".

Andrew Carnegie, a poor Scots immigrant, found fame and fortune in the US where he became the Pittsburgh steel millionaire.

Many locations in America were nostalgically named after the places the Scottish immigrants had left behind. There are eight Aberdeens, eight Edinburghs, seven Glasgows and eight places, simply known as Scotland, in the United States today.

Before the Declaration of Arbroath, Scotland was organised under a clan system. Many members of the great clans travelled to the New World and named the places in which they settled in honour of their clan names. Today there are areas named Campbell, Cameron, Crawford and Douglas, throughout the US.

The common Scottish surname suffix Mac or Mc can be seen at the start of many area names; in North Carolina alone there are 130 such places.

There are many societies in America, such as the St Andrew's Society - named after the patron saint of Scotland, that attempt to retain aspects of Scottish culture and heritage.

Clubs and societies celebrating Scottish ancestry were established in the 18th Century to assist struggling Scots in the new land.

Throughout America and Canada there are over 300 St Andrew's Societies, Caledonian Clubs and other Scottish societies.

Popular Scottish sport, such as golf and curling, were imported to America by the Scottish immigrants. Modern American track and field events originated from massive Scottish athletic tournaments.

The Scots were a valuable addition to a developing world. Their past experience of working in the harsh conditions of rural Scotland, combined with their hard-working Presbyterian upbringing, made them an ideal people to help build America in its formative years.

There were three distinctive groups of peoples of Scottish ancestry that emigrated to America: the Lowland Scots, the Highland Scots and the Scotch-Irish.

Religious persecution in Scotland prompted many to leave their homeland in the early 17th Century. Early settlements were established by these colonists in East Jersey in 1683 (now eastern and northern Jersey) and in South Carolina in 1698. Both these early colonies failed.

Scotland's history has been a tempestuous one, fraught with tension between England and Scotland. Between 1715 and 1745, more than 1,400 defeated Jacobite rebels were banished from their homeland and sent to America for their "crimes".

After the 1707 Union of the Parliaments, trade between Scotland and America dramatically increased. Merchants began to take advantage of the huge opportunities available in the New World, especially in the tobacco trade. Emigration by this group was mostly to Virginia where the tobacco trade was strongest.

The Scottish emigrants of the 18th Century were an educated group due to the Scottish Reformation, which had stressed the need for education, allowing every Scot the ability to read the bible.
Education has always played an important part in Scottish society, and these Scots played a crucial role in the early development of the New World. Most headmasters of the schools in the new colonies south of New York were Scottish or of Scottish ancestry. These establishments were fundamental in the education of America's future leaders; both Thomas Jefferson's and John Rutledge's tutors were Scottish immigrants.

Scots arriving in the New World soon established universities, colleges and other educational establishments such as Princeton University, which was initially named the College of New Jersey, when founded in 1746.

During the mid-17th Century Scottish medical establishments were second to none in the fields of education and science. Many recipients of these teachings came to America, where their influence can be seen to this day.

Many Americans travelled to Scotland to gain an education in medicine. In 1775 there were 3,500 people practising medicine in the US, though only 350 or 400 actually held degrees. Most of those holding degrees had been educated in Scotland.

The Scots greatest contribution to American medicine was the belief that it was not simply the body but the mind that must be healed. Drawing upon their knowledge of philosophy and the humanities they expounded the need to be humane when treating patients.

Scots were crucial in establishing separate medical teaching institutions; previously all medical education had been taught within the confines of medical establishments.

Scots have played their part in the political history of the United States. More than one hundred governors of pre-Revolutionary colonies and post Revolutionary States were of Scottish birth or descent.

35 US Supreme Court Justices have been Scots.

Of 73 Great Americans in the Hall of Fame, 25 were of Scottish blood.

Nearly half of the Secretaries of the US Treasury and one third of the Secretaries of State have been of Scots origin.

Of the fifty-six signatories of the Declaration of Independence, nine were directly or indirectly descended from Scots.

9 out of 13 Governors of the newly created United States were Scots or of Scottish descent.

Of fifty judges of the Supreme Court from 1759-1882 at least fifteen were of Scottish ancestry.

James Pollock (1810-90), responsible for putting "In God We Trust" on the US coinage, was of Scottish descent.

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