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The Scot in America

THE materials for the present volume have been gathered from many and varied sources, and their collection has provided for the author a pleasant relaxation from other studies during several years. A wide acquaintance among Scots resident in this country and in Canada has not only directed him to original sources of information, but has, in various ways and for many reasons, shown him the desirability of the compilation of such a work.

Even as now presented, the theme cannot be said to be exhausted. What is printed has been mainly selected from a mass of material, for it was found that the subject was too extensive to be fully covered in a single volume, while every day brings to the front some fresh incidents in this history-making age which deserve a place in such a record. Still, enough has been written, it is thought, to bring out into clear relief the main purpose the author had in entering upon its compilation, the demonstration of the fact that in the building up of this great Republic in all that has contributed to its true greatness and perfect civil and religious liberty, Scotsmen have, at least, done their share.

It is a pity that a work like this was not attempted a century ago, for much of the early history of the Scot in America has now been lost or has become so mingled with the general trend of events that it has become undistinguishable from the mass. Most of the early Scotch colonists crossed the sea in search of fortune, but a large number found a domicile in America under circumstances which, though sad, reflected honor upon themselves. Devotion to principle is a wonderful factor in the greatness of any country, and such prisoners as those landed in Boston from the John and Sara in 1652 (as related at Page 48) must have done much to supplement and strengthen the stern uprightness inculcated upon New England by the Pilgrim Fathers. These expatriated Scots fought for a principle at Dunbar, and the principle that makes men take up their arms in its defense on the field of battle is one that is not likely to be abandoned merely on account of worldly reverses or a backward tide in the fortunes of war. So, too, in the time of the Covenant, we find many traces of men and women who, after suffering imprisonment at home for their religious sentiments, were shipped to America as the easiest way to further punish and silence them. Thus the student of Scottish history comes across many items like the following, which is quoted from the statistical account of the Parish of Glassford, Lanarkshire, written in 1835 by the Rev. Gavin Lang, whose son, bearing the same name, afterward became a minister in Montreal and one of the best-known clergymen in Canada. It is an extract from the records of the Kirk Session of Glassford. "Item - In 1685 Michael Marshall and John Kay were both taken prisoners for their nonconformity, and banished and sent over sea to New Jersey in America. The said Michael stayed several years in America. After the late happy revolution, (1688,) designing to come home, he was taken prisoner at sea and was carried to France, where he was kept a year and a half in prison and endured great hardships before he was delivered."

It may be supposed from the above that the Covenanter, Kay, remained in New Jersey, or, at all events, in America, and it seems a pity that, if he left any descendants, their pedigree should not be known, as next to descent from a Mayflower Pilgrim, no more honorable start for an American genealogical tree than the name of this Presbyterian martyr could be imagined. It is, in fact, an interesting study to follow the fortunes of Scotch families in America, and while sometimes they drop out of sight among what John Knox pleasantly called the "rascall multitude," the majority remains in the van in whatever sphere of life they have attained.

The descendants of Principal Witherspoon of Princeton can be traced in honorable positions in the ministry and the professions to the present day. Andrew Wodrow, the eldest son of Robert Wodrow, the famous Scotch Church historian, emigrated to Virginia in 1768, and when the Revolutionary War broke out he entered the ranks of the Colonists and did his part in consolidating the Colonies into a nation, rising in the service to the grade of Lieutenant Colonel of Cavalry. Many of the descendants of the old historian are yet to be found in America, mainly in Virginia. principal among whom may be mentioned the President of South Carolina College, the Rev. Dr. J. Woodrow, the additional vowel having been introduced in the name to preserve its sound, a cus— tom which is widely prevalent, and which has helped more than aught else to obliterate many traces of the doings of the early American Scots. This fashion of altering the spelling of names is unfortunately much more common than is generally supposed. Thus Douglas be— comes "Douglass"; Watt, "Watts"; Urquhart, "Urkart": Patrick, "Partrick"; Napier, "Napper "; Mackintosh, "Mackentash": Gibson, "Gipson"; Semple, "Sarmple", and so on.

A case in point is that of the Gilmor family of Baltimore, whose original patronymic in Scotland was Gilmour. As the history of this family in America is an interesting one, not only for showing how each successive generation has kept in the front ranks of professional and business society, but for illustrating how the Scot by intermarriage soon becomes a member of the most aristocratic local families, the following notice, from Harper’s Magazine for June, 1882, may not inappropriately be introduced here, especially as, further on, it will be found that the early New York Scots, the Livingstones, Barclays, Watts, and others equally strengthened their social position in the community by marrying into the old Dutch families —the salt of the New Amsterdam community:

Four generations of the Gilmor family have been prominent in the business and social circles of Baltimore.

Robert Gilmor, the founder of the family in this country, was born at Paisley on the 10th of November, 1748, and christened the same day by the Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon, afterward of Princeton College. John Gilmor, the father of Robert, was a wealthy manufacturer. At the early age of seventeen his son displayed so great an aptitude for business that his father took him into partnership. Within a year, however, from this time, Robert, who had previously made several successful business trips to London, now determined to further extend his commercial enterprises, and with an assortment of goods suitable for the American market, he embarked in 1767 for this country, and landed at Oxford, Maryland, toward the end of September. This little place was then much resorted to by the British vessels to obtain the products of the country. The young man realized 1,500 from his venture, and being pleased with the country, determined to settle there. While on a visit to Dorchester County he made the acquaintance of his future wife, Miss Louisa Airey, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Airey, with whose brother he formed a partnership before he had been in the country one year. On the 25th of September, 1771, he married, and after being engaged in business on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for over ten years, he removed to Baltimore, believing it offered a wider field for his business. Mr. Gilmor soon developed a character of great prudence and industry, and showed a decided talent for making money.

Among Mr. Gilmor's business correspondents at this date were Messrs. Thomas Willing and Robert Morris of Philadelphia, both of whom were members of the Continental Congress, and the latter one of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. They traded under the firm of Willing & Morris. These gentlemen, together with Mr. William Bingham, Mr. Willing’s son—in—law, anticipating a treaty of peace after the surrender of Cornwallis, were desirous of forming an establishment at Amsterdam for the purpose of exporting more largely the staple products of Maryland and Virginia, and deeming Mr. Gilmor a suitable person to represent the concern in Holland, they offered him a copartnership, which was accepted. In accordance with this arrangement, Mr. Gilmor sailed with his family on the 27th of November, 1782, and arrived safely on the 12th of January, 1783, at his destination, where they met Captain Joshua Barney, on his way to America with the preliminary treaty of peace between Great Britain, France, and the United States. At Paris Mr. Gilmor met John Adams, one of the negotiators of the treaty of peace, who gave him a letter addressed to Messrs. Wilhelm & Jan Willink, the bankers of the United States in Holland, and one of the richest houses in Europe. This was the beginning of a commercial connection between the Gilmors and the Willinks which continued from father to son for upward of fifty years, during which transactions took place to the amount of many millions of dollars.

The house in Amsterdam, under the management of Mr. Gilmor, soon commanded an extensive business, extending all over Europe, and to the West Indies and the United States. Eventually the firm thus constituted was broken up by the death of Mr. Samuel Inglis, one of the Philadelphia partners. Mr. Bingham, who was at that time living in London, wrote to Mr. Gilmor to come there, with a view of arranging a partnership with him. He did so, and the result was the establishment of the firm of Robert Gilmor & Co. of Baltimore, in which Mr. Bingham was the other member. By his successful enterprises to all parts of the world, Mr. Gilmor, in the course of fifteen years, became one of the merchant princes of Baltimore.

In 1799 the business connection with Mr. Bingharn was dissolved. and Mr. Gilmor associated his two sons, Robert and William, with him, under the firm name of Robert Gilmor & Sons. The correspondents of the old firm were continued to the new, and many years of commercial prosperity followed. Robert Gilmor, Jr., did most of the traveling for the firm, and was thus enabled to combine pleasure with profit. He continued to take the deepest interest in the prosperity of Baltimore to the last, and died in 1849, universally lamented.

"His younger brother, William, was married at an early age to Mrs. Marianne Drysdale, a young widow of nineteen. She was a daughter of Isaac Smith of Northampton County, Virginia. Mr. and Mrs. Gilmor had twelve children. Their eldest son, Robert, was graduated at Harvard in 1828, and afterward went to Europe as attaché to the legation with Mr. Rives, our Minister to France. After remaining abroad, visiting places of interest, and meeting with a great deal of attention, he returned in the Autumn of 1829. It was his good fortune during this trip to spend several days at Abbotsford with Sir Walter Scott, and often referred to it with pleasure. Mr. Gilmor’s country seat was Glen-Ellen, in Baltimore County. He married Ellen Ward, daughter of Judge Ward, of Baltimore, whose memory is cherished as one of the most admired ladies that ever graced Baltimore society. The Hon. Robert Gilmor, who has been for more than twelve years one of the Judges of the Supreme bench of Baltimore, is a son of this lady. He possesses the love of art which is hereditary in his family, and owns a number of fine paintings and engravings formerly possessed by his relative. Mr. William Gilmor, who married Miss Key, a descendant of Francis S. Key, and Col. Harry Gilmor, who won distinction as a dashing cavalry officer in the Confederate service during the late war, are brothers of Judge Gilmor."

We might find similar accounts of the Scotch families in the local histories of all the States, but the subject is really limitless, and it presents itself to us in all sorts of biographical reading, both in the old land and the new. For instance, we read that Thomas Carlyle’s favorite sister still resides in Canada, which has been her home for many years, and a brother of Dr. Livingstone long carried on business at Listowell, in Ontario. A brother of Mungo Park, an earlier African traveler, left three daughters, all of whom crossed the Atlantic, but every trace of them has been lost. In the course of this work many instances are given of the descendants of famous Scots taking up their residence in the Western Hemisphere, and in several cases the fortunes of entire families have been followed from their transatlantic beginning to the present day. There is no more delightful or interesting feature in connection with the Scot in America than this branch of the subject.

In many portions of this work the author might be criticised for having permitted the perfervidum ingenium Scotorum to carry him apparently to extreme lengths in speaking in terms of praise of his native land. If in this respect the bounds of decorum have been exceeded, it has arisen from no want of appreciation of or devotion to the magnificent Republic of which he is proud to be a citizen, and in which for many years he has found a happy home. But there is nothing out of place in a heart beating as strongly at the sight of the Stars and Stripes as at a blink of the blue banner of old St. Andrew. The two countries represented by these emblems have so much in common that love for the one necessarily implies love for the other. But if some ultra American critic should condemn the writer on this score, he submits that he has gone no further in his admiration than Americans themselves. In a letter to the writer a Roman Catholic prelate, well known for his literary ability and for his devotion to America, his native land, says:

While Scotsmen and their descendants all over the world do not make as clamorous and sometimes offensive show of their love for the Old Country as does the Celt of Ireland, their devotion to the beauty, honor, success, and grandeur of the dear old land is, in my opinion, far deeper and far more justified. It is wonderful, especially in view of the scarcity of population, of the comparative poverty of the soil, and from the unfavorable situation of Scotland as regards the rest of Europe, what a noble worldwide history she has, and how many great men she has produced. While Scotland was ultimately benefited by the Union, in the sense of material prosperity, the smaller and poorer country exerted far more influence on the politics, literature, and commerce of the wealthier one, it is no idle boast that Scotsmen reduced Canada, conquered India, suppressed the Sepoy mutiny, and have furnished the United States with an immense number of the most intelligent and loyal citizens."

Equally laudatory was the following tribute by another American citizen, Consul Jenkinson of Glasgow, when he said: "The great body of the American people not only entertain a feeling of friendship for the people of Scotland, but also a sense of obligation, for much of what they are they owe to the teaching and example of Scotland. If they believed in liberty and independence, it was mainly due to what the Scots had taught them. If they tried to elevate mankind morally and socially by a thorough system of popular education, they but follow the example of Scotland. if they refused to put on and wear the shackles which bound the consciences of men and prevented a full and free religious worship, they but accepted the results of the long and severe contest waged by the people of Scotland. They had not only drawn upon the teaching and the example of the Scotch, but they had to some extent appropriated their wisdom and their genius in putting these into practice. At all times since the history of their people began they had had among them many distinguished statesmen who were Scotsmen."

After such tributes—and they might be multiplied by the hundred—from men not to the manner born, the author may be forgiven any apparent excess of enthusiasm to which he has been beguiled in the course of inditing the following pages. At the same time, no effort has been made to cover up the backsliding of any particular individual, and now and again the author has felt it necessary to expose the shortcomings of some compatriot who, to put it in the least offensive way, did not come up to the national standard. There are not many such, although it must be confessed the author has not exerted himself very exhaustively in trying to discover them. Still, even with the most diligent search, the number of black sheep in the Scottish flock would be found comparatively few. The national record in America is, on the whole, a grand one. An instance is not on record of a Scotsman being tried by Lynch law, or, with a single exception, of one being tarred and feathered. But that solitary, disagreeable event happened so long ago that it is difficult to understand the true inwardness of the case, and for all we really do know the victim might have been a martyr instead of an evildoer, He seems to have been rather a dubious character, however, judging by the fol lowing account of him written by the late Benson J. Lossing, the American historian.

John Malcolm was a Scotsman who settled in North Carolina after the famous rebellion of 1745. He was aide to Gov. Tryon in 1771, when he went against the Regulators. He afterward became a Custom House officer at Falmouth, (now Portland,) in Maine, and early in 1774 he was in a similar position in Boston. He was an insolent man. One day he struck a tradesman for an alleged insult, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. The constable pretended he could not find him. A mob gathered about his house, when he thrust a sword through a broken window and wounded one of them. They broke in, found him in a chamber, lowered him by a rope from a window to a cart, took off his clothes, tarred and feathered him, and dragged him through several of the streets with a rope around his neck to Liberty Tree. From there he was taken to a gallows on Boston Neck, beaten, and threatened with death. In the course of an hour he was conveyed to the extreme north end of the town, and then, after being bruised, and benumbed with cold for four hours, they took him back to his house. What became of him afterward is not on record. He was despised by both parties, and became equally malevolent toward Whigs and Tories."

Considerable space might have been devoted to the humor of the Scot in America, but it was felt that such a theme might more properly be left as the subject of a monograph by some other investigator. Such a compilation would not only be interesting in itself, but would show that the race had lost none of its native pawkiness by being transplanted, nay, would demonstrate rather that it was broadened, that it was less dry, that it did not require so much thawing out " under the influence of a few years’ alternate baking and freezing beneath an American sky. Still, in these stories the Scot would be there with all his noted characteristics. Here is an illustration in a story concerning dour Scotch obstinacy, which was once told to a group in a New York hotel by a middle—aged man of alert appearance and rapid, nervous movements: My father," he began "came over about seventy-five years ago and settled in Michigan, which, in that part, at any rate, was a semi—wilderness. As the country grew more settled my father, from the mere fact of his having been a pioneer, became very prominent in civic affairs in the community. He was very conscientious, but extremely impatient of contradiction, never understanding why a person could disagree with him, when he was SO plainly correct in his position.

Well, one night, contrary to his usual custom, he did not come home to supper. Eight o’clock came and the whole family was in bed and still he had not arrived. It was after 1 o’clock in the morning that his heavy step was heard on the stairs. My mother, who had been anxious, met him with a light in her hand.

"‘Where have you been?" she asked, looking at him seriously.

"'Been on a jury,’ he growled.

"Why did you stay so late?"

"Stay so late? There were eleven obstinate devils on that jury and it took me all night to convince them."

But such vain frivolities must not occupy us further, and, besides, as this preface is already too long, we must acknowledge several obligations, and so bring it to a close.

In a volume like this many sources have been culled to contribute in some way to its completeness, to furnish information of more or less importance. It has been difficult to determine in every case the printed authority for much of the work, but where it has been possible the authority has been pointed out. In a more general way the author has been indebted to many of the publications of Gen. James Grant Wilson, son of the sweet Scottish poet of Poughkeepsie. To the volume on "Scottish Poets in America," by John P. Ross, LL. D., is due much of the information concerning living bards contained in Chapter XIV. Much useful information has also been received from Mr. Robert Whittet of Richmond, Va. Mr. John Johnston, Milwaukee, and several others. Some of the data contained in the chapter on Scottish societies has been condensed from an earlier work by the author, "St. Andrew: the Disciple, the Missionary, and the Pa-tron Saint," now nearly out of print.

It may he noticed that the references to the Scot in Canada have not been by any means as full as they might be. In fact, the writer has wandered across the St. Lawrence only at intervals. To do otherwise would have simply flooded these pages with sketches of a great majority of the very men who have made Canada a nation, and, besides, the work has already been done in a thoroughly appropriate and lovable manner by W. J. Rattray of Toronto. It may be mentioned, too, for reasons that will be apparent and easily understood by any one who has had an acquaintance with bookmaking in the United States during the past thirty years, that only in a comparatively few instances, and then merely to emphasize some particular point, have references been made to living personages.

The writer now commends the volume to his countrymen and to all lovers of Scotland, with the fervent hope that it may be the means of increasing, even in a little degree, the reverence which has in the past been freely rendered to the dear old land in the Great Republic of the West.

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