Does The United States of America owe it's "Spirit of Freedom" to the Scots?

It's well known to every schoolchild, and drummed in to every tourist, that the Scots invented everything worth having, from the tea-towel to television.

There's a roll-call of scientists, doctors, writers and engineers who changed the world to an extent unknown of ANY other People on this Earth.

But a book by an American historian, makes the claim that Scotland also invented democracy and the American dream!

Linda MacDonald-Lewis hopes that Warriors and Wordsmiths of Freedom: The Birth and Growth of Democracy will bring an understanding on both sides of the Atlantic of the true debt Americans owe to the Scots.

The daughter of a Scot who divides her time between America and Scotland, MacDonald-Lewis believes the Declaration of Independence, the charter that laid out the early principles of democracy in the United States, was not based on a model from the ancient Greeks or the Magna Carta as is widely believed, but was in fact based on the 14th-century Declaration of Arbroath.

Presented to the pope in 1320 to confirm Scotland's status under Robert the Bruce as a state with an ancient constitution, and to reject any English claim of sovereignty, the declaration drawn up at Arbroath Abbey formalised the idea of equality for all. The Declaration of Independence of 1776 was written to reject the British rule.

So, if Americans want to understand their history, they need to look to Scotland, because that is where their ideals come from. And Scots should look across the Atlantic to see where their homegrown doctrines and ideas have been most fully embraced.

The cries of freedom in both documents are a deliberate move by America's founding fathers - half of those who signed the Declaration of Independence were of Scottish ancestry. Robert the Bruce, meanwhile, was the first ruler in Europe to be brought to power by a system recognisable as modern democracy, by "due consent and assent of us all".

A lot of Scots who had to leave Scotland after the failed Jacobite rebellion ended up dying on American battlefields, fighting the same enemy on a different field.

Even George Washington treasured a snuff box that he had been given made from a piece of wood cut from the tree where William Wallace hid from the English at Falkirk.

See entry number 16 here:

Academics have previously linked America's founding fathers to the Scottish enlightenment that was ongoing during the drafting of the US charter. Gordon Brown's favourite historian, US academic Gertrude Himmelfarb, had written that Thomas Jefferson and other key figures studied the enlightenment's leaders, such as Francis Hutcheson and David Hume, who were making a worldwide impact at a time when, as Voltaire, the French defender of civil liberties, said: "We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation."

Spot the difference:

"As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself."

Declaration of Arbroath, 6 April 1320

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776

Ah,..the Scots,...truly the most magnificent and greatest of People!

But what do YOU think?

All thoughts most welcome.


Trisha,...and your meaning is?

Update 2:


Ah,..trisha,..I see what you were trying to say now. Sorry, my mistake, as I had not mentioned the great Man myself in the piece I was merely wondering what compelled you to mention Locke, a man I have studied well.

And for your information, he was not born in Bristol, he was born in Wrington, in Somerset, where his mother's family resided.

She died during his infancy, and Locke was "raised" by his father, who was an attorney in the small town of Pensford "near Bristol".

My particular favourite is his essay concerning Human understanding.

Maybe you should read it,..then read it again...and again.

Update 3:

Thanks for "educating" me all the same,..oh, and by the way,..can you tell me what the difference is betweed "education" and "indoctronation"?

Update 4:

PLease excuse my spelling, as I have a bit of a cold.


Update 5:

Well done Will,...way to go!

10 Answers

  • Will
    Lv 7
    9 years ago
    Best Answer

    Were it not for the invention of Haggis the Scots would be the most perfectly accomplished people on earth.

    The Scots practically invented Empiricism; and men like David Hume and Adam Ferguson, created the idea that governments were capable of being formed for practical rather than blindly theoretical reasons. In this, men like Hume and Ferguson were actually far more advanced than Locke. Why is this important? It's so HUGE.

    Why did the (so-called) American Revolution end in stable constitutional government, and the French Revolution end with terror and dictatorship? The SCOTS, that's why? Scottish philosophy emphasized the importance of Practical thinking over Ideological reason. In other words, the Scots said, I don't care if it sounds right, will the bloody thing actually work? The French, on the other hand, were dominated by a "rational" approach that led them down the road of rational idealism and the pursuit of the creation of the ideal "perfect" society. Perfection is impossible, and thus, all Utopian visions MUST end in tyranny. Hence, America, dominated by the limiting features of practical, Scottish Empiricism succeeds, while France, animated by the Continental Rationalists, ends in disaster.

    Scottish Empirical Enlightenment transformed the world. It influenced the American Constitution, it's whole emphasis on practical, limited government, run through the entirety of American political traditions. And America's entire economy was governed by the greatest Scot of them all -- Adam Smith who taught of the importance of mastering economic forces, and who made economies that ACTUALLY WORK.

    Over 50% of the Americans who fought in the War of Independence were Scots of the first or second generation, and the reason they wouldn't quit when the going was tough was because they were (like all Scots) bloody-minded and stubborn. They were not afraid of the "English" and they refused to be bullied.

    Like I said, if it wasn't for Haggis, they'd be perfect...

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    nope Locke was from Avon..

    you seem badly educated so i'll enlighten you..

    John Locke

    Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work had a great impact upon the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the American Declaration of Independence

    simply this you want to know where the foundation stone of western civilisation springs from google a guy called John Locke and he was from Bristol.

    >>>>>We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.<<<<<

    that is more or less a direct quote from Locke.

    Thomas Jefferson wrote: "Bacon, Locke and Newton ... I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences..

    and guess what they are all English men..

    nice try though i'll give you that..

    you are forgiven, ermm from Bristol I think you'll find I said as you confirm.. lol

    so if you are familiar with his work why are you trying to 'indoctrinate' his work in a medieval Scottish call to a bloodbath?

    and the guy below makes a silly point as well, it's the same as saying Einstein was more advanced then newton, but no Newton no Einstein.

    and the crack about the AWI ending in harmony is nonsense, all the loyalist Americans were kicked out..and that includes Scottish loyalists.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Today in the U S they are known for releasing the Lockerbie bomber Scotland well have to live with that just as New Zealand has to live with declaring them self a nuclear free zone during the height of the cold war

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    When you say "they" and "their" you should know that you speak of people long dead for the last 200+ years. I am not those people.

    Beyond that, I think Scots should stop typing out their accent. It's annoying.

    And beyond that, it's common knowledge that the USA is not a free country. It is a Corporatocratic Republic and ALL rights are up for judicial and legislative translation at any given time. US Citizens (Such as myself) are "free" so long as those freedoms do not step on the state or federal laws which are very VERY long and most people have not read them which is why everyone believes the lie that they are free when they are not.

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  • benny
    Lv 4
    9 years ago

    These maybe be all true but they are still ruled by a a different country and a Queen from a different country, FACT that is not something to be proud of

    • Scott6 years agoReport

      You've not been to school have you Benny? The British monarchy is the monarchy of both Scotland and England, it isn't an "English" monarchy. And never has Scotland been "ruled" by England, it is a *UNION* of equals.

  • Syd
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    ..and you thought the worst thing invented in Scotland was the deep fried Mars Bar.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    From everything I've ever read or witnessed, I would have to say I agree with you.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Negatory...veddy good question now stop smoking your sandals for the path to enlightenment

  • ?
    Lv 5
    9 years ago

    Did they invent scorts also? Maybe murse's.

  • 9 years ago

    neighbody like us !!i say.

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