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Settlements of Scotch Highlanders in America
Chapter 12
Scotch Hostility towards America


The causes which led to the American Revolution have been set forth in works pertaining to that event, and fully amplified by those desiring to give a special treatise on the subject. Briefly to rehearse them, the following may be pointed out: The general cause was the right of arbitrary government over the colonies claimed by the British parliament. So far as the claim was concerned as a theory, but little was said, but when it was put in force an opposition at once arose. The people had long been taught to act and think upon the principle of eternal right, which had a tendency to mould them in a channel that looked towards independence. The character of George III. was such as to irritate the people. He was stubborn and without the least conception of human rights; nor could he conceive of a magnanimous project, or appreciate the value of civil liberty. His notions of government were despotic, and around him, for advisers, he preferred those as incompetent and as illiberal as himself. Such a king could not deal with a people who had learned freedom, and had the highest conceptions of human rights. The British parliament, composed almost entirely of the ruling class, shared the views of their master, and servilely did his bidding, by passing a number of acts destructive of colonial liberty. The first of these was a strenuous attempt to enforce in 1761 THE IMPORTATION ACT, which gave to petty constables the authority to enter any and every place where they might suspect goods upon which a duty had not been levied. In 1763 and 1764 the English ministers attempted to enforce the law requiring the payment of duties on sugar and molasses. In vain did the people try to show that under the British constitution taxation and representation were inseparable. Nevertheless English vessels were sent to hover around American ports, and soon succeeded in paralyzing the trade with the West Indies.

The close of the French and Indian war gave to England a renewed opportunity to tax America. The national debt had increased from £52,092,238 in 1727 to £138,865,430 in 1763. The ministers began to urge that the expenses of the war ought to be borne by the colonies. The Americans contended, that they had aided England as much as she had aided them; that the cession of Canada had amply remunerated England for all her losses; and, further, the colonies did not dread the payment of money, but feared that their liberties might be subverted. Early in March 1765, the English parliament, passed the celebrated STAMP ACT, which provided that every note, bond, deed, mortgage, lease, licence, all legal documents of every description, every colonial pamphlet, almanac, and newspaper, after the first day of the following November, should be on paper furnished by the British government, the stamp cost being from one cent to thirty dollars. When the news of the passage of this act was brought to America the excitement was intense, and action was resolved on by the colonies. The act was not formally repealed until March 18, 1766. On June 29, 1767, another act was passed to tax America. On October 1, 1768, seven hundred troops, sent from Halifax, marched with fixed bayonets into Boston, and quartered themselves in the State House. In February 1769 parliament declared the people of Massachusetts rebels, and the governor was directed to arrest those deemed guilty of treason, and send them to England for trial. In the city of New York, in 1770, the soldiers wantonly cut down a liberty pole, which had for several years stood in the park. The most serious affray occurred on March 5th, in Boston between a party of citizens and some soldiers, in which three citizens were shot down and several wounded. This massacre inflamed the city with a blaze of excitement. On that day lord North succeeded in having all the dutes repealed except that on tea; and that tax, in 1773, was attempted to be enforced by a stratagem. On the evening of December 16th, the tea, in the three tea-ships, then in Boston harbor, was thrown overboard, by fifty men disguised as Indians. Parliament, instead of using legal means, hastened to find revenge. On March 31, 1774, it was enacted that Boston port should be closed.

The final act which brought on the Revolution was the firing upon the seventy minute men, who were standing still at Lexington, by the English soldiers under Major Pitcairn, on April 19, 1775, sixteen of the patriots fell dead or wounded. The first gun of the Revolution fired the entire country, and in a few days Boston was besieged by the militia twenty thousand strong. Events passed rapidly, wrongs upon wrongs were perpetrated, until, finally, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was published to the world. By this act all hope of reconciliation was at an end. Whatever concessions might be made by England, her own acts had caused an impassable gulf.

America had done all within her power to avert the impending storm. Her petitions had been spurned from the foot of the English throne. Even the illustrious Dr. Franklin, venerable in years, was forced to listen to a vile diatribe against him delivered by the coarse and brutal Wedderburn, while members of the Privy Council who were present, with the single exception of lord North, "lost all dignity and all self-respect. They laughed aloud at each sarcastic sally of Wedderburn. ‘The indecency of their behaviour,’ in the words of Shelburne, ‘exceeded, as is agreed on all hands, that of any committee of elections;’ and Fox, in a speech which he made as late as 1803, reminded the House how on that memorable occasion ‘all men tossed up their hats and clapped their hands in boundless delight at Mr. Wedderburn’s speech.’ " [Lecky’s History of England, Vol. IV. p. 151.]

George III., his ministers and his parliament hurled the country headlong into war, and that against the judgment of her wisest men, and her best interests. To say the least the war was not popular in England. The wisest statesmen in both Houses of Parliament plead for reconciliation, but their efforts fell on callous ears. The ruling class was seized with the one idea of humbling America. They preferred to listen to such men as Major James Grant,—the same who allowed his men, (as has been already narrated) to be scandalously slaughtered before Fort du Quesne, and had made himself offensive in South Carolina under Colonel Montgomery. This braggart asserted, in the House of Commons, "amidst the loudest cheering, that he knew the Americans very well, and was certain they would not fight; ‘that they were not soldiers and never could be made so, being naturally pusillanimous and incapable of discipline; that a very slight force would be more than sufficient for their complete reduction’; and he fortified his statement by repeating their peculiar expressions, and ridiculing their religious enthusiasm, manners and ways of living, greatly to the entertainment of the house." [Bancroft's History United States, Vol. VI, p. 136; American Archives, Fourth Series, Vol. I, p. 1543.]

The great Pitt, then earl of Chatham, in his famous speech in January 1775, declared:

"The spirit which resists your taxation in America is the same that formerly opposed loans, benevolences, and ship-money in England. * * * This glorious spirit of Whiggism animates three millions in America who prefer poverty with liberty to gilded chains and sordid affluence, and who will die in defence of their rights as freemen. * * * For myself, I must declare that in all my reading and observation—and history has been my favorite study; I have read Thucydides, and have studied and admired the master states of the world—that for solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion under such a complication of difficult circumstances, no nation or body of men can stand in preference to the General Congress at Philadelphia.* * * All attempts to impose servitude upon such men, to establish despotism over such a mighty continental nation, must be vain, must be fatal. We shall be forced ultimately to retreat. Let us retreat while we can, not when we must."

In accordance with these sentiments Chatham withdrew his eldest son from the army rather than suffer him to be engaged in the war. Lord Effingham, finding his regiment was to serve against the Americans, threw up his commission and renounced the profession for which he had been trained and loved, as the only means of escaping the obligation of fighting against the cause of freedom. Admiral Keppel, one of the most gallant officers in the British navy, expressed his readiness to serve against the ancient enemies of England, but asked to be released from employment against the Americans. It is said that Amherst refused to command the army against the Americans. In 1776 it was openly debated in parliament whether British officers ought to serve their sovereign against the Americans, and no less a person than General Conway leaned decidedly to the negative, and compared the case to that of French officers who were employed in the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Just after the battle of Bunker Hill, the duke of Richmond declared in parliament that he "did not think that the Americans were in rebellion, but that they were resisting acts of the most unexampled cruelty and oppression." The Corporation of London, in 1775, drew up an address strongly approving of the resistance of the Americans, and similar addresses were expressed by other towns. A great meeting in London, and also the guild of merchants in Dublin, returned thanks to lord Effingham for his recent conduct. When Montgomery fell at the head of the American troops before Quebec, he was eulogized in the British parliament.

The merchants of Bristol, September 27, 1775, held a meeting and passed resolutions deprecating the war, and calling upon the king to put a stop to it. The Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Livery of London, September 29th, issued an address to the Electors of Great Britain, against carrying on the war. A meeting of the merchants and traders of London was held October 5th, and moved an address to the king "relative to the unhappy dispute between Great Britain and her American Colonies," and that he should "cause hostilities to cease." The principal citizens, manufacturers and traders of the city of Coventry, October 10th, addressed the sovereign beseeching him "to stop the effusion of blood, to recommend to your Parliament to consider, with all due attention, the petition from America lately offered to be presented to the throne." The mayor and burgesses of Nottingham, October 20th, petitioned the king in which they declared that "the first object of our desires and wishes is the return of peace and cordial union with our American fellow-subjects," and humbly requested him to "suspend those hostilities, which, we fear, can have no other than a fatal issue." This was followed by an address of the inhabitants of the same city, in which the king was asked to "stay the hand of war, and recall into the bosom of peace and grateful subjection your American subjects, by a restoration of those measures which long experience has shown to be productive of the greatest advantages to this late united and flourishing Empire. The petition of the free burgesses, traders and inhabitants of Newcastle-upon-Tyne declared that "in the present unnatural war with our American brethren, we have seen neither provocation nor object; nor is it, in our humble apprehension, consonant with the rights of humanity, sound policy, or the Constitution of our Country." A very great majority of the gentlemen, clergy and free-holders of the county of Berks signed an address, November 7th, to the king in which it was declared that "the disorders have arisen from a complaint (plausible at least) of one right violated; and we can never be brought to imagine that the true remedy for such disorders consists in an attack on all other rights, and an attempt to drive the people either to unconstitutional submission or absolute despair." The gentlemen, merchants, freemen and inhabitants of the city of Worcester also addressed the king and besought him to adopt such measures as shall "seem most expedient for putting a stop to the further effusion of blood, for reconciling Great Britain and her Colonies, for reuniting the affections of your now divided people, and for establishing, on a permanent foundation, the peace, commerce, and prosperity of all your Majesty’s Dominions."

It is a fact, worthy of special notice, that in both England and Ireland there was a complete absence of alacrity and enthusiasm in enlisting for the army and navy. This was the chief reason why George III. turned to the petty German princes who trafficked in human chattels. There people were seized in their homes, or while working the field, and sold to England at so much per head. On account of the great difficulty in England in obtaining voluntary recruits for the American war, the press-gang was resorted to, and in 1776, was especially fierce. In less than a month eight hundred men were seized in London alone, and several lives were lost in the scuffles that took place. The press-gang would hang about the prison-gates, and seize criminals whose sentences had expired and force them into the army.

"It soon occurred to the government that able-bodied criminals might be more usefully employed in the coercion of the revolted colonists, and there is reason to believe that large numbers of criminals of all but the worst category, passed at this time into the English army and navy. In estimating the light in which British soldiers were regarded in America, and in estimating the violence and misconduct of which British soldiers were sometimes guilty, this fact must not be forgotten." In Ireland criminals were released from their prisons on condition of enlisting in the army or navy. [Leeky’s History of England, Vol. IV. p. 346]

The regular press-gang was not confined to England, and it formed one of the grievances of the American colonists. One of the most terrible riots ever known in New England, was caused, in 1747, by this nefarious practice, under the sanction of Admiral Knowles. An English vessel was burnt, and English officers were seized and imprisoned by the crowd; the governor was obliged to flee to the castle; the sub-sheriffs were impounded in the stocks; the militia refused to act against the people; and the admiral was compelled to release his captives. Resistance, in America, was shown in many subsequent attempts to impress the people.

The king and his ministers felt it was necessary to sustain the acts of parliament in the American war by having addresses sent to the king upholding him in the course he was pursuing. Hence emissaries were sent throughout the kingdom who cajoled the ignorant into signing such papers. The general sentiment of the people cannot be estimated by the number of addresses for they were obtained by the influence of the ministers of state. Every magistrate depending upon the favor of the crown could and would exert his influence as directed. Hence there were numerous addresses sent to the king approving the course he was bent upon. When it is considered that the government had the advantage of more than fifty thousand places and pensions at its disposal, the immense lever for securing addresses is readily seen. From no section of the country, however, were these addresses so numerous as from Scotland.

It is one of the most singular things in history that the people of Scotland should have been so hostile to the Americans, and so forward in expressing their approbation of the attitude of George III. and his ministers. The Americans had in no wise ever harmed them or crossed their path. The emigrants from Scotland had been received with open arms by the people. If any had been mistreated, it was by the appointees of the crown. With scarcely an exception the whole political representation in both Houses of Parliament supported lord North, and were bitterly opposed to the Americans. Lecky has tried to soften the matter by throwing the blame on the servile leaders who did not represent the real sentiment of the people:

"Scotland, however, is one of the very few instances in history, of a nation whose political representation was so grossly defective as not merely to distort but absolutely to conceal its opinions. It was habitually looked upon as the most servile and corrupt portion of the British Empire; and the eminent liberalism and the very superior political qualities of its people seem to have been scarcely suspected to the very eve of the Reform Bill of 1832. That something of that liberalism existed at the outbreak of the American war, may, I think, be inferred from the very significant fact that the Government were unable to obtain addresses in their favor either from Edinburgh or Glasgow. The country, however, was judged mainly by its representatives, and it was regarded as far more hostile to the American cause than either England or Ireland." [History of England, Vol. IV, p. 338.]

A very able editor writing at the time has observed:

"It must however be acknowledge, that an unusual apathy with respect to public affairs, seemed to prevail with the people, in general, of this country; of which a stronger proof needs not to be given, that than which will probably recur to every body’s memory, that the accounts of many of the late military actions, as well as of political proceedings of no less importance, were received with as much indifference, and canvassed with as much coolness and unconcern, as if they had happened between two nations with whom they were scarcely connected. We must except from all these observations, the people of North Britain (Scotland), who, almost to a man, so far as they could be described or distinguished under any particular denomination, not only applauded, but proffered life and fortune in support of the present measures."

The list of addresses sent from Scotland to the king against the Colonies is a long one,—unbroken by any remonstrance or correction. It embraces those sent by the provost, magistrates, and common (or town) council of Aberbrothock, Aberdeen, Annan, Ayr, Burnt-Island Dundee, Edinburgh, Forfar, Forres, Inverness, Irvine, Kirkaldy, Linlithgow, Lochmaben, Montrose, Nairn, Peebles, Perth, Renfrew, Rutherglen, and Stirling; by the magistrates and town council of Brechine, Inverary, St. Andrews, Selkirk, Jedburgh, Kirkcudbright, Kirkwall, and Paisley; by the magistrates, town council and all the principal inhabitants of Fortrose; by the provost, magistrates, council, burgesses and inhabitants of Elgin; by the chief magistrates of Dunfermline, Inverkeiting and Culross; by the magistrates, common council, burgesses, and inhabitants of Dumfries; by the lord provost, magistrates, town council and deacons of craft of Lanark; by the magistrates, incorporated societies, and principal inhabitants of the town and port of Leith; by the principal inhabitants of Perth; by the gentlemen, clergy, merchants, manufacturers, incorporated trades and principal inhabitants of Dundee; by the deacon convenier, deacons of fourteen incorporated trades and other members of trades houses of Glasgow; by the magistrates, council and incorporations of Cupar in Fife, and Dumbarton; by the freeholders of the county of Argyle and Berwick; by the noblemen, gentlemen and freeholders of the counties of Aberdeen and Fife; by the noblemen, gentlemen, freeholders and others of the county of Linlithgow; by the noblemen and gentlemen of the county of Roxburgh; by the noblemen, justices of the peace, freeholders, and commissioners of supply of the counties of Perth and Caithness; by the noblemen, freeholders, justices of the peace, and commissioners of the land-tax of the counties of Banff and Elgin; by the freeholders and justices of the peace of the county of Dumbarton; by the gentlemen, justices of the peace, clergy, freeholders and committee of supply of the county of Clackmanan; by the gentlemen, justices of the peace and commissioners of land tax of the counties of Kincardine, Lanark and Renfrew; by the freeholders, justices of the peace and commissioners of supply of the counties of Kinross and Orkney; by the justices of the peace, freeholders and commissioners of land tax of the dounty of Peebles; by the gentlemen, freeholders, justices of the peace and commissioners of supply of the county of Nairn; by the gentlemen, heretors, freeholders and clergy of the counties of Ross and Cromarty; by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; by the ministers and elders of the provincial synod of Angus and Mearns; also of the synod of Glasgow and Ayr; by the provincial synod of Dumfries, and by the ministers of the presbytery of Irvine.

The list ascribes but eight of the addresses to the Highlands. This does not signify that they were any the less loyal to the pretentions of George III. The probability is that the people generally stood ready to follow their leaders, and these latter exerted themselves against the colonists. The addresses that were proffered, emanating from the Highlands, in chronological order, may be thus summarized: The freeholders of Argyleshire, on October 17, 1775, met at Inverary with Robert Campbell presiding, and through their representative in Parliament, Colonel Livingston, presented their "humble Address" to the king, in which they refer to their predecessors who had "suffered early and greatly in the cause of liberty" and now judge it incumbent upon themselves "to express our sense of the blessings we enjoy under your Majesty’s mild and constitutional Government; and, at the same time, to declare our abhorrence of the unnatural rebellion of our deluded fellow-subjects in America, which, we apprehend, is encouraged and fomented by several discontented and turbulent persons at home." They earnestly desire that the measures adopted by parliament may be "vigorously prosecuted ;" "and we beg leave to assure your Majesty, that, in support of such measures, we are ready to risk our lives and fortunes."

The address of the magistrates, town council, and all the principal inhabitants of Fortrose, is without date, but probably during the month of October of the same year. They met with Colonel Hector Munro, their representative in parliament, presiding, and addressing the king declared their "loyal affection" to his person; are "filled with a just sense of the many blessings" they enjoy, and "beg leave to approach the throne, and express our indignation at, and abhorrence of, the measures adopted by our unhappy and deluded fellow-subjects in America, in direct opposition to law and justice, and to every rational idea of civilization ;" "with still greater indignation, if possible, we behold this rebellious disposition, which so fatally obtains on the other side of the Atlantic, fomented and cherished by a set of men in Great Britain ;" that the "deluded children may quickly return to their duty," and if not, "we hope your Majesty will direct such vigorous, speedy, and effectual measures to be pursued, as may bring them to a due sense of their error."

The provost, magistrates and town council of Nairn met November 6, 1775, and addressed their "Most Gracious Sovereign" as his "most faithful subjects" and it was their "indispensable duty" to testify their "loyalty and attachment ;" they were "deeply sensible of the many blessings" they enjoyed; they viewed with "horror and detestation" the "audacious attempts that have been made to alienate the affections of your subjects." "Weak as our utmost efforts may be deemed, and limited our powers, each heart and hand devoted to your service will, with the most ardent zeal, contribute in promoting such measures as may be now thought necessary for re-establishing the violated rights of the British Legislature, and bringing back to order and allegiance your Majesty’s deluded and unhappy subjects in America."

On the same day, the same class of men at Inverness made their address as "dutiful and loyal subjects," and declared "the many blessings" they enjoyed; and expressed their "utmost detestation and abhorrence of that spirit of rebellion which has unhapily broke forth among your Majesty’s subjects in America," and "the greatest sorrow we behold the seditious designs of discontented and factious men so far attended with success as to seduce your infatuated and deluded subjects in the colonies from their allegiance and duty," and they declared their "determined resolution of supporting your Majesty’s Government, to the utmost of our power, against all attempts that may be made to disturb it, either at home or abroad."

The following day, or November 7th, the gentlemen, free-holders, justices of the peace, and commissioners of supply of the county of Nairn, met in the city of Nairn, and addressed their "Most Gracious Sovereign," declaring themselves the "most dutiful and loyal subjects," and it was their "indispensable duty" "to declare our abhorrence of the present unnatural rebellion carried on by many of your infatuated subjects in America." "With profound humility we profess our unalterable attachment to your Majesty’s person and family, and our most cordial approbation of the early measures adopted for giving a check to the first dawnings of disobedience. This county, in the late war, sent out many of its sons to defend your Majesty’s ungrateful colonies against the invasion of foreign enemies, and they will now, when called upon, be equally ready to repel all the attempts of the traitorous and disaffected, against the dignity of your crown, and the just rights of the supreme Legislature of Great Britain."

The gentlemen, heretors, freeholders, and clergy of the Counties of Ross and Cromarty assembled at Dingwall, November 23, 1775, and also addressed their "Most Gracious Sovereign" as the "most faithful and loyal subjects," acknowledging "the protection we are blessed with in the enjoyment of our liberties," it is "with an inexpressible concern we behold many of our fellow-subjects in America, incited and supported by factions and designing men at home," and that "we shall have no hesitation in convincing your rebellious and deluded subjects in America, that with the same cheerfulness we so profusely spilled our blood in the last war, in defending them against their and our natural enemies, we are now ready to shed it, if necessary, in bringing them back to . just sense of their duty and allegiance to your Majesty, and their subordination to the Mother Country."

The magistrates and town council of Inverary met on November 28, 1775, and to their "Most Gracious Sovereign" they were also the "most dutiful and loyal subjects," and further "enjoyed all the blessings of the best Government the wisdom of man ever devised, we have seen with indignation, the malignant breath of disappointed faction, by prostituting the sacred sounds of liberty, too successful in blowing the sparks of a temporary discontent into the flames of a rebellion in your Majesty’s Colonies, that we from our souls abhor ;" and they desired to be applied "such forcive remedies to the affected parts, as shall be necessary to restore that union and dependency of the whole on the legislative power."

At Thurso, December 6, 1775, there met the noblemen, gentlemen, freeholders, justices of the peace and commissioners of supply of the county of Caithness, and in an address to their "Most Gracious Sovereign" declared themselves also to be the "most dutiful and loyal subjects;" they approved the "lenient measures" which had hitherto been taken in America by parliament, "and that they will support with their lives and fortunes, the vigorous exertions which they forsee may soon be necessary to subdue a rebellion premeditated, unprovoked, and that is every day becoming more general, untainted by the vices that too often accompany affluence, our people have been inured to industry, sobriety, and, when engaged in your Majesty’s service, have been distinguished for an exact obedience to discipline, and a faithful discharge of duty; and we hope, if called forth to action in one combined corps, it will be their highest ambition to merit a favorable report to your Majesty from their superior officers. At the same time, it is our most ardent prayer to Almighty God, that the eyes of our deluded fellow-subjects in America may soon be opened, to see whether it is safe to trust in a Congress unconstitutionally assembled, in a band of officers unconstitutionally appointed, or in a British King and Parliament whose combined powers have indeed often restrained the licentiousness, but never invaded the rational liberties of mankind."

A survey of the addresses indicates that they were composed by one person, or else modelled from the same formula. All had the same source of inspiration. This, however, does not militate against the moral effect of those uttering them. So far as Scotland is concerned, it must be regarded as a fair representation of the sentiment of the people. While only an insignificant part of the Highlands gave their humble petitions, yet the subsequent acts must be the criterion from which a judgment must be formed.

It is possible that some of the loyal addresses were accelerated by the prohibition placed on Scotch emigration to America. Early in September, 1775, Henry Dundas, lord-advocate for Scotland, urged the board of customs to issue orders to all inferior custom houses enjoining them to grant no clearances for America of any ship which had more than the common complement of hands on board. On September 23, 1775, Archibald Cockburn, sheriff deputy of Edinburgh, issued the following order:

"Whereas a letter was received by me some time ago, from His Majesty’s Advocate for Scotland, intimating that, on account of the present rebellion in America, it was proper a stop should be put for the present to emigrations to that Country, and that the necessary directions were left at the different sea-ports in Scotland to that purpose; I think it my duty, in obedience to his Lordship’s requisition contained in that letter, to take this publick method of notifying to such of the inhabitants within my jurisdiction, if any such there be, who have formed resolutions to themselves of leaving this Country, and going in quest of settlements in America, that they aught not to put themselves to the unnecessary trouble and expense of preparing for a removal of their habitations, which they will not, so far as it lies in my power to prevent, be permitted to effectuate."

The British government had every assurance of the undivided support of all Scotland in its attempt to subjugate America. It also put a strong dependence in enlisting in the army such Highlanders as had emigrated, and especially those who had belonged to the 42nd, Fraser’s, and Montgomery’s regiments, but remained in the country after the peace of 1763. This alone would make a very unfavorable impression on the minds of Americans. But when to this is added the efforts of British officers to organize the emigrants from the Highlands into a special regiment, as early as November, 1775, the rising of the Highlanders both in North Carolina and on the Mohawk, the enlisting of emigrants on board vessels before landing and sailing by Boston to join their regiments at Halifax, and on the passage listening to the booming of the cannon at Bunker Hill; and the further fact that both the 42nd and Fraser’s Highlanders were ordered to embark at Greenock for America, five days before the battle of Lexington, it is not a matter of surprise that a strong resentment should be aroused in the breasts of many of the most devoted to the cause of the Revolution.

The feeling engendered by the acts of Scotland towards those engaged in the struggle for human liberty crops out in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence as laid before Congress July 1, 1776. In the memorable paper appeared the following sentence: "At this very time, too, they are permitting their chief magistrate to send over, not only soldiers of our common blood, but Scotch and foreign mercenaries to invade and destroy us." The word "Scotch" was struck out, on motion of Dr. John Witherspoon, himself a native of Scotland; and subsequently the whole sentence was deleted.

The sentence was not strictly true, for there were thousands of Americans of Scotch ancestry, but principally Lowland. There were also thousands of Americans, true to the principles of the Revolution, of Highland extraction. If the sentence had been strictly true, it would have served no purpose. even if none were alienated thereby. But, the records show that in the American army there were men who rendered distinguished services who were born in the Highlands; and others, from the Lowlands, rendered services of the highest value in their civil capacities.

The armies of the Colonies had no regiments or companies composed of Highland Scotch, or even of that extraction, although their names abound scattered through a very large percentage of the organized forces. The only effort [See Appendix, Note N.] which appears to have been made in that direction rests on two petitions by Donald McLeod. The first was directed to the Committee for the City and County of New York, dated at New York, June 7, 1775:

"That your petitioner, from a deep sense of the favors conferred on himself, as well as those shown to many of his countrymen when in great distress after their arrival into this once happy city, is moved by a voluntary spirit of liberty to offer himself in the manner and form following, viz: That your said petitioner understands that a great many Companies are now on foot to be raised for the defence of our liberties in this once happy land, which he thinks to be a very proper maxim for the furtherance of our rights and liberty; that your said petitioner (although he has nothing to recommend himself but the variety of calling himself a Highlander, from North-Britain) flatters himself that if this honorable Committee were to grant him a commission, under their hand and seal, that he could, without difficulty, raise one hundred Scotch Highlanders in this City and the neighboring Provinces, provided they were to be put in the Highland dress, and under pay during their service in defence of our liberties. Therefore, may it please your Honors to take this petition under your serious consideration; and should your Honors think proper to confer the honor upon him as to have the command of a Highland Company, under the circumstances proposed, your petitioner assures you that no person shall or will be more willing to accept of the offer than your humble petitioner."

On the following day Donald McLeod sent a petition, couched in the following language to the Congress for the Colony of New York:

"That yesterday your said petitioner presented a petition before this honorable body, and as to the contents of which he begs leave to give reference. That since, a ship arrived from Scotland, with a number of Highlanders passengers. That your petitioner talked to them this morning, and after informing them of the present state of this as well as the neighboring Colonies, they all seemed to be very desirous to form themselves into companies, with the proviso of having liberty to wear their own country dress, commonly called the Highland habit, and moreover to be under pay for the time they are in the service for the protection of the liberties of this once happy country, but by all means to be under the command of Highland officers, as some of them cannot speak the English language. That the said Highlanders are already furnished with guns, swords, pistols, and Highland dirks, which, in case of occasion, is very necessary, as all the above articles are at this time very difficult to be had. Therefore may it please your Honors to take all and singular the premises under your serious and immediate consideration; and as your petitioner wants an answer as soon as possible, he further prays that as soon as they think it meet, he may be advised. And your petitioner, is in duty bound, shall ever pray."

This petition was presented during the formative state of the army, and when the colonies were in a state of anarchy. Congress had not yet assumed control of the army, although on the very eve of it. With an empire to found and defend, the continental Congress had not at its disposal a single penny. When Washington was offered the command of the army there was little to bring out the unorganized resources of the country. At the very time of Donald McLeod’s petition, the provincial congress of New York was engaged with the distracted state of its own commonwealth. Order was not brought out of chaos until the strong hand and great energy of Washington had been felt.


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