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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part II - Contributions by Noted American Scotsmen
Scots in American Finance by A. Barton Hepburn


SIR WILFRED LAURIER, former Premier of Canada, in one of his post-prandial efforts, said: "Wherever there is a good thing in the world, there you will find a Scotchman camped close beside it"; and also that the Scotchman's prayer was, "0 Lord, we do not ask you to give us wealth, but show us where it is".

The above quotations illustrate the popular conception of Scotch thrift. The dour, hard life, the severe climate and unresponsive soil of Scotland compel her sons to endure privations and hardships, and to practise fundamental economy, which, in turn, enable them to prosper greatly when they migrate to more genial climes, where profligate Nature and developing civilization offer abundance.

The Scotch enjoy wit and humour at their own expense more than any other nation; seemingly conscious of their own superiority, witty delineation of their national characteristics appeals to their sense of humour.

They have in large degree taken to merchandising and have contributed many of our merchant princes, as, for instance, Alexander T. Stewart and James McCreery. In still greater degree have they taken to banking, wherein they have been conspicuously successful. Scrutinize the Board of Managers of our larger banks in our larger cities and you will find Scotia conspicuously represented.

In the dawn of our national existence, that transcendental financial genius, Alexander Hamilton, a Scotchman, did more than any other to give to the government of that time form and character, and to guide it upon a successful career. He was the first Secretary of the Treasury, and in the course of his official conduct laid down the principles of banking and economy that should govern private as well as public finance; he drew the charter of the First United States Bank; he made a report to Congress upon the necessity for a mint and the good results that would be obtained from the same. All these works of his are classics, and the fundamental principles involved and evolved are as applicable to the present and the future as they were to the necessities of the time. The thirteen colonies, poor, disconnected—for inland transportation was little advanced beyond the trail—unaffiliated, selfish, envious, jealous of each other, as soon as the cohesive force of a common danger was removed, as soon as their independence was acknowledged and peace declared, began quarrelling among themselves. They had many differences—-the most important and most troublesome related to finance. Massachusetts and Virginia had contributed most in men and money to the Revolutionary cause and naturally expected to be reimbursed by the other colonies, who were deficient in the propel and equable ratio of contribution, and made such demands; so did other colonies, and it seemed as though the Federation of Colonies might be disrupted because of the disagreement over the adjustment of the cost of the Revolutionary War. When acrimony was at its height, Hamilton suggested that the Federation, the united colonies, assume all the debts of each colony incurred on account of the war. When asked how the Federation could pay these debts so assumed, he replied. ‘‘By levying a duty upon imports, sufficient funds for such purpose could be easily obtained and at the same time needed protection to our struggling industries be afforded." The suggestion was adopted, the union was saved and the successful working of the policy he inaugurated is the most conspicuous monument to greatness that history accords any statesman. Though Hamilton has no equal he has many worthy followers in the field of finance among the sons and descendants of sons of Scotland.

A. BARTON HEPBURN.
New York City.


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