The American patriots and the Scots in the Revolution: the issue of Britishness in 1775-1776

Abstract : American Founding father Thomas Jefferson famously suggested in his draft of the Declaration of Independence that the Scots were neither part of the British nation nor of the “common blood” of the English and the colonists. This paper will discuss the shared vision of the American patriots with regard to the Scottish identity. In the Thirteen Colonies, the Scots were perceived as Jacobites, friendly to the Catholics and the French, therefore anti-Protestants, and above all supporters of tyranny. The Scots were seen as thoroughly different from the English and the Americans, who identified themselves with Protestantism, loyalty to the dynasty of Hanover and the liberties granted by the English constitution. This perception of Scottish distinctiveness was not based on language, the Highland dress or the social organization of the clans, but on the relationship to power and authority. There was a purpose behind this false representation of the Scottish identity. It was designed to support the idea that despite the multiculturalism of the colonists who came from different European countries, they all participated in a shared British identity, understood as a cross-Atlantic English identity. In other words, the Scots were the Other against whom the Americans defined themselves as genuinely British at a time when the conflict with the parent state escalated.
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Contributor : Florence Petroff <>
Submitted on : Thursday, August 15, 2019 - 12:12:03 PM
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Florence Petroff. The American patriots and the Scots in the Revolution: the issue of Britishness in 1775-1776. International Congress on the Enlightenment, ISECS, Jul 2019, Edimbourg, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-02266628⟩



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