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About this book

While the literature relating to Scottish contact with America has grown significantly in recent years, the influence of America on Scotland and its early modern history has been neglected in favour of a preoccupation with Scottish influence on the formation of North American national identities. Alexander Murdoch's fascinating new study explores Scottish interactions with North America in a desire to open up fresh perspectives on the subject.

Scotland and America, c.1600-c.1800
• surveys the key centuries of economic, migratory and cultural exchange, including Canada and the Caribbean
• discusses Scottish participation in the Atlantic slave trade and the debate over its abolition
• considers the Scottish experience of British unionism with respect to developing American traditions of unionism in the U.S. and Canada.

Incorporating the latest research, this is essential reading for anyone interested in the dynamic relationship between Scotland and America during a key period in history.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Introduction

Abstract
Much of what has been written about Scotland’s relations with America has been concerned with uncritical ethnic chauvinism. Like many other ethnic groups in America, Scottish-Americans claim a significant importance for themselves in helping to make America, and Scots naturally focus on this when thinking about their country’s exchanges with America, neglecting the very considerable impact of America in making modern Scotland. This book is a survey of what we know about this complex subject to date, excluding the entirely unexplored history of cultural exchange between Scotland and America in the twentieth century. Most work has been carried out on the eighteenth century, when Scotland redefined itself as part of the European Enlightenment and made an important contribution to the creation of modern Britain and its empire. My own research has been focused on that period, and the content of this book reflects that. By the end of that century the United States had emerged as a modern republic, in European eyes the first American nation, but this is not a book about Scotland and the United States. It seeks to consider both countries in the broader context of the Atlantic world that transformed modern history in the eighteenth century and began the process of globalization that is such an important part of modern world history.
Alexander Murdoch

Scottish Trade and Settlement in America

Frontmatter

1. Scotland and America in the Seventeenth Century

Abstract
In 1622 Sir William Alexander received a charter from James VI of Scotland to found a Scottish colony in the North American lands lying between New England, where English settlement was in its infancy, and the long established English fishing stations on the island of Newfoundland.15 Later, in 1628, James’s son Charles I granted Alexander a second charter giving him (in theory) a claim to all the lands between English and French territories in North America.16 Alexander was one of the many Scottish courtiers who followed James to London when he became king of England in 1603. In the pamphlet promoting his projected colony, Alexander wrote that Scots would never participate in overseas plantations unless, just as there was a New England, a New France and a New Spain, ‘they might likewise have a New Scotland’.17 John Reid has remarked wisely upon ‘the fundamental emptiness of European pretensions to ownership of lands that were already occupied by native people’, but it is clear that Alexander conceived of his colonial ambitions as offering a possible solution to some of James VI’s fundamental concerns about his oldest kingdom. Scotland exported many of its young men as soldiers for the wars of Europe, a growth industry during the wars of religion that prostrated early modern Europe. Unlike England (but like Ireland), Scotland had a surplus population that could be channelled into American colonization. Unlike Ireland (but like England), most of that population was Protestant. Alexander’s An Encouragement to Colonies addressed this. Why should Scots ‘betake themselves to the warres against the Russians, Turks, or Swedens, as the Polonians were pleased to employ them’? He also pointed out that ‘the Lowe Countries have spent many of our men, but have enriched few,’ while ‘the necessities of Ireland are neere supplied, and that great current which did transport so many of our people is worne drie’.18 Alexander was not correct about the future of Scottish emigration patterns in the seventeenth century. Many more Scots were about to die in the Thirty Years War in Europe and many more Scots would emigrate into Ireland than ever would travel further westward before 1700.
Alexander Murdoch

2. Emigration in the Eighteenth Century

Abstract
Scotland exported a high percentage of its population (mostly young men) in the seventeenth century, but most of them went to northern Europe.93 That pattern was reversed over the course of the eighteenth century. By the end of the eighteenth century North America was the principal destination for Scottish emigrants and would remain so for all of the nineteenth century. This change occurred slowly, accelerated during the extraordinary decade before the American Revolution, with the main destination beginning to shift to Canada in its aftermath. It grew out of the changing pattern of Scottish overseas trade. If Scottish emigration to England made the greater impact on the country over the course of the eighteenth century, it was contact with America that made Scotland British. The union of 1707 created more opportunities in British American colonies for members of the Scottish elite, particularly their younger sons. However, it also gave an advantage to emigrant Scottish working people over the Irish and German servants and farmers who were being recruited in increasing numbers to mainland British North American colonies as centres of population and areas of settlement began to grow and expand.94 It is impossible to estimate the number of Scottish emigrants, although Ned Landsman has made a brave try and arrived at a fi gure of ‘under 30,000’ for the period 1700–60.95
Alexander Murdoch

3. Sugar and Tobacco: ‘Let Glasgow Flourish’

Abstract
Trade with the West Indies had a major impact on the developing economy of Scotland in the eighteenth century. Some scholars have identified the Scots who went to the West Indies as indentured servants, soldiers, sailors, tradesmen, merchants, planters, doctors and administrators as a significant and distinctive element in the development of West Indian economic, social and political history.173 Of course, the term ‘West Indies’ is the creation of British imperial discourse, denominating an area of trade. Recent work has preferred the regional term ‘Caribbean’.174 The British West Indies have been identified, in historical terms, as the British colonies in the region, separate and distinct from what some scholars have termed mainland ‘British North America’. Yet it is clear that there were and are as many differences and distinctions among the peoples and places of the British West Indies as there are similarities. In the emerging ‘Atlantic world’ of early modern history the West Indies were ‘the hub of empire’, just as William Paterson had described Panama as ‘the hub of the universe’, occupying a sharply distinctive place between Europe and mainland North America that has not always been acknowledged in histories of either region.175
Alexander Murdoch

Transatlantic Scotland: Cultural Exchange between Scotland and America

Frontmatter

4. Slavery and Scotland

Abstract
Scottish involvement with British colonial trade to the West Indies and North America brought it into contact with the developing system of transatlantic chattel slavery. Slavery provided the labour necessary for the production of the commodities such as sugar, tobacco, cotton and coffee, as well as rice and indigo, that began to generate rich profits for European planters. By the late eighteenth century, however, the rise of opposition to ‘British’ slavery in Scotland influenced the changing nature of Scottish society as Enlightenment ideas became less focused on ‘improvement’ and more about equality. By the nineteenth century, Scottish participation in the campaigns to end the slave trade and eventually slavery itself in the British Empire came to play a key role in the reinvention of the country as a modern society. Scotland was no longer a politically independent state or kingdom, but national identity instead became associated with an idea of moral mission. This was one reason why Scotland was so important in the development of the Liberal Party in the United Kingdom during the nineteenth century.
Alexander Murdoch

5. Scotland and Native Peoples in the Americas

Abstract
Did the interaction of Gaelic and Scots cultures in early modern Scotland create a culture with acute sensitivity to the issues implicit in the European debate over conditions of barbarism and civility in human society? Or were the Scots, as subalterns of empire, consigned to deal with native peoples while its profits and the power went elsewhere? Particularly in the eighteenth century, Scots were at the centre of the debate over the future of native peoples in America. This was partly because there had already been a debate in Scotland during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries relating to this issue but focused on the people of Scotland rather than America. The great Scottish classicist, George Buchanan, was a critic of the impact of early European colonization in America, particularly in his poem, In colonias brasilienses. Buchanan denounced European barbarity in America, particularly that of the Portuguese colonists in Brazil. For Buchanan, ‘the empire was an inherently unstable and vulnerable commercial world’ which excluded the possibility of a virtuous life.315 Although familiar with Gaelic, Buchanan believed that the classical languages were the languages of civilization. He was, after all, to become the greatest Latinist in Europe in his lifetime. In his History of Scotland, he wrote that ‘the gradual extinction of the ancient Scottish language’ was something that he could ‘perceive without regret’. ‘Let us pass from rusticity and barbarism,’ he wrote, ‘to culture and civilization, let our choice and judgement repair the infelicity of our birth.’316 Buchanan had been subject to trial by the Inquisition while teaching in Portugal, an experience which appears to have affected his views on rusticity and culture. For Buchanan, no reports of American savagery, even cannibalism, could equal the depravity of what the Portuguese colonists did to the native peoples of Brazil.
Alexander Murdoch

6. The Spiritual Connection

Abstract
From the first conception of a ‘New Scotland’ in America in the early seventeenth century, the idea was associated with those who subscribed to a distinctively Scottish Protestant Reformed religious tradition. Of course, their missionary statements of purpose were always allied with, and arguably in reality subordinated to, the economic priorities of trade and colonization. However, one distinguishing feature of early Scottish contact with America was the fact that the Protestant Reformation in Scotland developed in a manner that was distinctive in Europe and the British Isles. By the end of the seventeenth century the failure in Panama at Darien could be interpreted in terms of a covenanted nation failing to meet the demands of its special relationship with God. Implicit in European colonization of America was the idea that one day the ‘old world’ would be superseded by the new. In a Scottish context, in the century following the failure at Darien in America, the idea that God had chosen America rather than Scotland as the site of the spiritual renewal of a corrupt human race grew in influence in Scotland.376
Alexander Murdoch

Epilogue: ‘The Scottish Invention of the USA’

Abstract
In 1996, more than 20 years after the appearance of his pioneering book Scotland and America 1750–1835, Andrew Hook published an essay under the title ‘The Scottish Invention of the USA’. He argued that the importance of America to the transformation of the Scottish economy in the eighteenth century was not as signifi cant as ‘the Scottish invention of the USA’. For Hook, ‘what Scotland imported from the American colonies was tobacco; what she exported to the American colonies was ideas.’442 From the perspective of early American history, Ned Landsman has also written in an important essay that it was Scottish influence that was crucial in creating ‘that particular optimistic vision of unlimited American potential, which was, in origin, British, liberal and provincial’. Ironically, Landsman argued, this ‘has often been reinterpreted as uniquely American, New English and exceptional.’443 Hook’s essay was a shrewd analysis of the reception of a study the American author Garry Wills published in 1978 on the American Declaration of Independence under the title Inventing America, which met with a reception that was initially quite positive, but later tempered by a reluctance by many reviewers to concede that a political journalist and professional writer could write a work of importance to our understanding of early American history.444 This meant that the emphasis that Wills gave to Jefferson’s debt to leading thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment in the composition of the declaration became obscured by a shifting argument between other American scholars on the exceptional nature of Jefferson’s use of his intellectual sources in creating a text of extraordinary historical importance.445 Thus the exceptional originality of the document was highlighted by American commentators rather than the importance of the Scottish Enlightenment as a source for many of the ideas that gave it such historical importance.
Alexander Murdoch
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