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Scottish American Presidents

Of the twenty-nine Presidents of the United States five (Monroe, Grant, Hayes, Roosevelt, and Wilson) are of Scottish descent, and four (omitting Jackson who has been also claimed as Scottish by some writers) are of Ulster Scot descent, namely, Polk, Buchanan, Arthur, and McKinley. Jackson may possibly have been of Ulster Scot descent as his father belonged to Carrickfergus while his, mother's maiden name, Elizabeth Hutchins, or Hutchinson, is Scottish. She came of a family of linen weavers. Benjamin Harrison might also have been included as he had some Scottish (Gordon) blood. His wife, Caroline Scott Harrison, was of Scottish descent.

James Monroe, fifth President, was descended from Andrew Monroe, who emigrated from Scotland in the middle of the seventeenth century. President Grant was a descendant of Matthew Grant, who came from Scotland to Dorchester, Mass., in 1630. George Hayes, ancestor of Rutherford B. Hayes, nineteenth President, was a Scot who settled in Windsor prior to 1680. Theodore Roosevelt was Dutch on his father's side and Scottish on his mother's. His mother was descended from James Bulloch, born in Scotland about 1701, who emigrated to Charleston, c. 1728, and founded a family which became prominent in the annals of Georgia. Woodrow Wilson's paternal grandfather, James Wilson, came from county Down in 1807. His mother, Janet (or Jessie) Woodrow, was a daughter of Rev. Thomas Woodrow, a native of Paisley, Scotland. James Knox Polk, eleventh President, was a great-great-grandson of Robert Polk or Pollok, who came from Ayrshire through Ulster. Many kinsmen of President Polk have distinguished themselves in the annals of this country. James Buchanan, fifteenth President, was of Ulster Scot parentage. Chester Alan Arthur, twenty-first President, was the son of a Belfast minister of Scottish descent. William McKinley, twenty-fifth President, was descended from David McKinley, an Ulster Scot, born about 1730, and his wife, Rachel Stewart. The surname McKinley in Ireland occurs only in Ulster Scot territory.

Of the Vice-Presidents of the United States six at least were of Scottish or Ulster Scot descent.

John Caldwell Calhoun (1782-1850), of Scottish descent on both sides. Previous to becoming Vice-President he was Secretary of War in Monroe's cabinet, and later was Secretary of State in the cabinet of President Tyler. He was one of the chief instruments in securing the annexation of Texas. George Mifflin Dallas (1792-1864), son of Alexander James Dallas, Secretary of the Treasury, was Minister to Russia in 1837-39, and subsequent to his Vice-Presidency was Minister to Great Britain (1856-61). John Cabell Breckenridge (1821-75), of direct Scottish descent, was Vice-President from 1857-61, candidate for President in 1860, Major-General in the Confederate Army (1862-64), and Confederate Secretary of War (1864-65). Henry Wilson (1812-75), of Ulster Scot descent, had a distinguished career as United States Senator before his election to the Vice-Presidency (1873-75). His original name was Jeremiah Jones Colbraith (i.e., Galbraith). He was also a distinguished author, his most important work being the "History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America" (1872-75). Thomas Andrews Hendricks (1819-85), who held the Vice-Presidency only for a few months (March to November, 1885), was of Scottish descent on his mother's side. Adlai Ewing Stevenson (1835-1914) was Member of Congress from Illinois (1875-77), and First Assistant Postmaster-General (1885-89), previous to becoming Vice-President (1893-97).

Scots Cabinet Officers.

WAR. William Harris Crawford (1772-1834), descended from David Crawford, who came from Scotland to Virginia, c. 1654. Secretary of War (1615-16), Secretary of the Treasury (1816-25), and save for an unfortunate attack of paralysis, would have been President in 1824. He was also United States Senator from Georgia (1807-13) and Minister to France (1813-15). John Bell (1797-1869), Secretary (1841), Senator (1847-59), and candidate of the Constitutional Union Party for President in 1860, was probably of Scottish descent. George Washington Crawford, Secretary of War, was also Governor of Georgia. Simon Cameron (1799-1889), of Scottish parentage or descent, Senator (1845-49), Secretary of War in cabinet of Lincoln (1861-62), United States Minister to Russia (1862-63), and again Senator (1866-77). James Donald Cameron (1833-1918), son of the preceding, was Secretary under Grant for a year and United States Senator from 1877 to 1897. Daniel Scott Lamont (1851-1905), journalist and Secretary under Cleveland, was of Ulster Scot origin.

TREASURY. George Washington Campbell (1768-1848), Secretary (1814), was also Minister to Russia (1810-20). Alexander James Dallas (1759-1817), Secretary (1814-16), was the son of a Scottish physician, Dr. Robert C. Dallas. During 1815-16 he also discharged the functions of Secretary of War. Had a distinguished career as a statesman. Louis McLane (1776-1857), son of Allen McLane, a Revolutionary soldier and Speaker of the Legislature of Delaware, had a distinguished career as Senator from Delaware (1827-29), Minister to Great Britain (1829-31), Secretary of the Treasury (1831-33), and Secretary of State (1833-34). His son, Robert Milligan McLane (1815-98), had a distinguished career as a diplomat. James Guthrie (1792-1869), Secretary in the cabinet of President Pierce (1853-57). Thomas Ewing (1789-1871), was United States Senator from Ohio (1831-37), Secretary of the Treasury (1841), Secretary of the Interior (1849-50). He traced his descent from Findlay Ewing, a native of Loch Lomond, who distinguished himself in the Revolution of 1688 under William of Orange. Hugh McCulloch (1808-95), descended from Hugh McCulloch, Bailie of Dornoch, Sutherlandshire, was Comptroller of the Currency (1863-65), Secretary of the Treasury (1865-69, 1884-85). He funded the National Debt during his first term as Secretary. Charles Foster (1825-1904), Governor of Ohio (1880-84), was Secretary of the Treasury from 1891 to 1893. Franklin MacVeagh (b. 1837), of Scottish ancestry, also held the office under President Taft.

INTERIOR. Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart (b. 1807), Secretary in President Fillmore's cabinet, was son of Archibald Stuart, a Scot who fought in Revolutionary War. Thomas Ewing is already referred to (under Treasury). Samuel Jordan Kirkwood, Secretary of the Interior under Garfield, was also three times Governor of Iowa.

NAVY. Benjamin Stoddert (1751-1813), Secretary (1798-1801), was grandson of a Scot. William Alexander Graham (1804-75), Secretary (1850), was also Governor of North Carolina. He projected the expedition to Japan under Commodore Perry. James Cochrane Dobbin (1814-57). Paul Morton (1857-1911), Secretary (1904-05), was said to be descended from Richard Morton, a blacksmith and ironmaster of Scottish birth, who came to America about the middle of the eighteenth century.

STATE. James Gillespie Blaine (1830-93), Secretary (1881, 1889-92) and unsuccessful candidate for President in 1884. John Hay (1838-1905), one of the ablest Secretaries of State (1898-1905) this country ever had, was also of Scottish descent. He also held several diplomatic posts in Europe (1865-70), culminating in Ambassador to Great Britain (1897-98).

AGRICULTURE. James Wilson (1835-1920), Secretary (1897-1913) under McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft, was born in Ayrshire, Scotland. He was Regent of Iowa State University, and in 1891 was elected to the chair of Practical Agriculture in the College of Agriculture and Director of the State Experiment Stations. He was wonderfully successful in the expansion and administration of the "most useful public department in the world."

LABOR. William Bauchop Wilson, born in Blantyre, near Glasgow, Scotland, in 1862, Secretary-Treasurer of the United Mine Workers of America (1900-09); Member of Congress (1907-13), and Chairman of the Committee on Labor in the sixty-second Congress, Secretary of Labor (1913).

POSTMASTER-GENERAL. The first postal service in the Colonies was organized by Andrew Hamilton, a native of Edinburgh, who obtained a patent for a postal scheme from the British Crown in 1694. A memorial stone on the southwest corner of the New York Post Office at Thirty-third Street commemorates the fact. John Maclean (1785-1861), Postmaster-General from 1823 to 1829, was later Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court of Ohio, and unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 1856 and again in 1860. He took part in the famous Dred Scott case, in which he dissented from Taney, maintaining that slavery had its origin merely in power and was against right. James Campbell (1812-93), of Ulster Scot parentage, Postmaster-General in the cabinet of President Pierce, made a record by reducing the rate of postage and introducing the registry system. Montgomery Blair (1813-83) was Postmaster-General in the cabinet of President Lincoln. Adlai Ewing Stevenson, Assistant Postmaster-General, later became Vice-President.

Scots In The Senate.

John Ewing Colhoun (1749-1802), Member of State Legislature of South Carolina and Senator from the same state (1801), was of the same family as John C. Calhoun. George Logan (1753-1821), a man of high scientific attainments, grandson of James Logan, Quaker Governor of Pennsylvania, went to France in 1798 with the design of averting war with that country, Senator from Pennsylvania (1801-07). John Rutherfurd (1760-1840) was grandson of Sir John Rutherfurd of Edgerston, Scotland. James Brown (1766-1835), Senator and Minister-Plenipotentiary to France, was of Scottish descent. Jacob Burnet (1770-1853), Jurist and Senator, was the grandson of a Scot. His father, William Burnet (1730-91), was a skilful physician and Member of Congress. John Leeds Kerr (1780-1844), lawyer and Senator, was the son of James Kerr of Monreith. Alexander Campbell (1779-1857), Senator, was of Argyllshire descent. Walter Lowrie (1784-1868), Senator (1819-35) and thereafter Secretary of the Senate for twelve years, was born in Edinburgh. His four sons all became prominent in law and theology. Simon Cameron (1799-1889), grandson of a Cameron who fought at Culloden. His ancestor emigrated to America soon after the '45 and fought tinder Wolfe against the French at Quebec. Simon Cameron was also for a time Secretary of War in Lincoln's Cabinet and Minister to Russia. He named his residence at Harrisburg "Lochiel." His brother James was Colonel of the New York Volunteers, the 79th Highlanders, in the Civil War. James Donald Cameron (b. 1833), son of Simon Cameron, was President of the Northern Central Railroad of Pennsylvania (1863-74), Secretary of War Under General Grant, and Senator from Pennsylvania. Charles E. Stuart (1810-87), Lawyer and Senator, was a descendant of Daniel Stuart who came to America before 1680. Stephen Arnold Douglas (1813-61), Senator and unsuccessful candidate of the Democratic party for the Presidency in 1860, was of Scottish origin. Joseph Ewing MacDonald (1819-91), who held a foremost place among constitutional lawyers and was Democratic candidate for Governor of Indiana in 1864, was of Scottish ancestry. Francis Montgomery Blair (1821-75), a descendant of Commissary Blair of Virginia, was Senator from Missouri (1871-73), and Democratic candidate for Vice-President in 1868. James Burnie Beck (1822-90), born in Dumfriesshire, was Member of Congress (1867-75) and Senator from 1876 to 1890. He served on many important committees. Joseph McIlvaine (1765-1826), United States Senator from 1823 to 1826, was grandson of a Scot. His father fought on the Colonial side in the Revolution. Randall Lee Gibson (1822-92), of Scottish ancestry, Major-General in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, was United States Senator from Louisiana from 1883 till his death. His grandfather, Randall Gibson, was one of the founders of Jefferson College, Mississippi. John Brown Gordon (1832-1904), Lieutenant-General in the Confederate Army, thirty-fifth Governor of Georgia and United States Senator, was grandson of a Scot. Marcus Alonzo Hanna (1837-1904) was also partly Scottish descent. Calvin Stewart Brice (1845-1898), Chairman of the Democratic Campaign Committee (1888) and Senator from Ohio (1891-97), claimed descent from Bruce of Kinnaird. Daniel Hugh McMillan (b. 1846), was much identified with the welfare of Buffalo. His grandfather was "John the Upright," arbiter of the Hollanders of the Mohawk Valley during the latter part of the eighteenth century. Alexander McDonald (d. 1903), Senator from Arkansas (1868-71), was the son of John McDonald who came to the United States in 1827, and was one of the first to discover and develop bituminous coal mines on the west branch of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. John Lendrum Mitchell (1842-1904), grandson of John Mitchell, farmer of Aberdeenshire, was State Senator of Wisconsin, Member of Congress from Wisconsin (1891-93), and Senator from the same state (1893-99), was also noted as a capitalist. Samuel James Renwick MacMillan (d. 1897), Chairman of the Committee of Commerce, was of Covenanting descent.

Scots In The House Of Representatives.

Only a very few names of Members of Congress of Scottish birth of descent can be dealt with here. Some additional names will be found in other sections of this work. William Houston (b. about 1755), son of Sir Patrick Houston, was a Member of the Continental Congress. John Morin Scott (1730-84), grandson of the second son of Sir John Scott of Ancrum was Brigadier-General of New York State troops at the Battle of Long Island and Member of Congress from 1779 to 1783. William Burnet (1730-91), of Scottish parentage, physician and Member of Congress. Among his sons the following are worthy of notice: Dr. William Burnet of New Jersey, Major Ichabod Burnet of Georgia, Jacob Burnet, pioneer of Ohio, and David G. Burnet, Provisional President of the Republic of Texas. William Crawford (1760-1823), Member of Congress from 1809 to 1817, was born in Paisley. William Fitzhugh Gordon (1787-1858), Member from Virginia (1829-35), of Scottish descent, is said to have been the originator of the Sub-Treasury system. The town of Gordonsville, Virginia, was named after him or after his family. Leonidas Felix Livingston (b. 1832), grandson of Adam Livingston from Scotland, who served in the Revolutionary War, was a Member of the Georgia Legislature and Member of Congress. John Louis Macdonald (b. 1838), newspaper editor, State Senator, etc., was born in Glasgow. James Buchanan (b. 1839) of Scottish descent, was Member from New Jersey to 49th, 50th, 51st and 52nd Congress. David Bremner Henderson (1840-1906), born at Old Deer, Aberdeenshire, served in the Civil War and lost a leg at Corinth, was Member from Iowa (1880-99), and Speaker of the House of Representatives (1899-1906). William Grant Laidlaw, born near Jedburgh, Scotland, in 1840, served in the Civil War and was Member of Congress from 1887 to 1891. John Edgar Reyburn (b. 1845), Member State Senate of Pennsylvania, Member of Congress 1890-1907; and James Fleming Stewart (1851-1904), were both of Scottish descent.

Scots In The Judiciary.

As with the medical and theological professions the legal has shared the dominating influence of Scotland, and indeed it is perhaps not too much to say that much of the distinctive character of American jurisprudence is due to the influence of men of Scottish blood at the bench and bar. The second Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court (John Rutledge) and two of the four original Associate Justices, Blair and Wilson, were of Scottish origin. The mother of John Marshall, the great Chief Justice, was of Scottish origin (Keith). Of fifty judges of the United States Supreme Court from 1789 to 1882, at least fifteen were of Scottish birth or descent. We have space here to deal with only a selection of the most prominent names.

Andrew Kirkpatrick (1756-1831), Chief Justice of New Jersey for twenty-one years, whose "decisions especially those on realty matters, show a depth of research, a power of discrimination, and a justness of reasoning which entitle him to rank among the first American jurists," was of Scottish parentage, descended from the Kirkpatricks of Dumfriesshire. His son, also named Andrew, was President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Essex County (1885-96) and United States District Judge (1896-1904). George Robertson (1790-1874), Chief Justice of Kentucky (1829-43), "whose name stands first in the list of great men who have occupied and adorned the Appellate bench of Kentucky," and who declined the offer of the governorship of Arkansas, was of Scottish ancestry. Robert Cooper Grier (1794-1870), Associate Justice of the Superior Court of Connecticut (1846-70) was of same origin. Eugenius Aristides Nisbet (1803-71), descended from Murdoch Nisbet, a Lollard of Kyle, after a brilliant career in the state legislature became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia. Thomas Todd (1765-1826), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (1807-26). The first Chief Justice of Delaware, William Killen (1722-1805), was born in the north of Ireland of Scottish parentage. John J. Milligan (1795-1875), grandson of a Scottish emigrant from Ayrshire, was Associate Justice of Delaware, and refused, on account of ill health, the portfolio of Secretary of the Interior in the cabinet of President Fillimore. Ellis Lewis (1798-1871), Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (1855-57) was of Scottish descent. Alexander Addison (1759-1807), born in Scotland, became President Judge of the fifth judicial district of Pennsylvania under the constitution of 1770. Robert Hunter Morris, Lieutenant-Governor of Pennsylvania, was Chief Justice of New Jersey for twenty-one years. John McLean (1785-1861), Associate Justice, is noticed under Scots in the Presidential Cabinet; and William Paterson, Associate Justice (1793-1806), is mentioned under Colonial Governors. Samuel Nelson (1792-1873), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, was of Ulster Scot descent. "His decisions have stood the test of time and the searching analysis of the most able lawyers." Thomas Douglas (1790-1853), first Chief Justice of Florida, was of Scots ancestry. William Wallace Campbell (1806-81), great-grandson of an Ulster Scot, was distinguished as a jurist and as a historian of New York State. He was author of Annals of Tryon County (1831), Border Warfare of New York (1849), Life and Writings of De Witt Clinton (1849), etc. During a visit to Scotland in 1848 he was elected an honorary member of the Clan Campbell at a great gathering at Inveraray. Thomas Drummond (1809-90), grandson of a Scot from Falkirk, was Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. John Archibald Campbell (1811-89), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (1853-61), was Assistant Secretary of War in the Confederate Cabinet, and in 1865 took part in the "Hampton Roads Conference." John Wallace Houston (1841-95), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Delaware, was of Scots descent. His ancestors first settled in New York city, and Houston Street is named after one of them. Other Associate Justices of Delaware of Scottish descent are Charles Mason Cullen (1829-1903), and George Gray (b. 1840), Attorney-General (1879-85), United States Senator, Member of the Russo-Japanese Peace Commission of 1898, and Member of the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission of 1902. James Gilfillan (1829-94), born at Bannockburn, Stirlingshire, "a profound scholar, and as a jurist was distinguished for his ability, firmness, and absolute impartiality." William Joseph Robertson (1817-98), born in Virginia of Scottish parents, was Judge of the Supreme Court of Virginia and Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals (1859). Thomas Sloan Bell (1800-61), of Scottish parentage, became President Judge of the Judicial District of the counties of Wayne, Pike, Carbon, and Monroe, in Pennsylvania, in 1855, and held many other important positions. Samuel Dana Bell, son of Samuel Bell, Governor of New Hampshire, was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Hampshire (1859-64). Matthew Hall McAllister (1800-65), for several years Mayor of Savannah, Georgia, afterwards United States Circuit Judge of California, LL.D. of Columbia University, was of Scottish ancestry. Thomas Ewing (1829-96), son of Thomas Ewing, Secretary of the Treasury, at the age of twenty-nine was elected first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio. During the Civil War he took a conspicuous part and rose to the rank of General. William Harper (1790-1847), born in Antigua, Leeward Islands, of Scottish parents, was Chancellor of the University of South Carolina (1828-30, 1835-47) and Judge of the Court of Appeals of South Carolina (1830-35). John Bannister Gibson (1780-1853), Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, was of Ulster Scot descent. Harry Innes (1752-1816), of Scottish parentage, was one of the Commissioners appointed to draft a constitution for Kentucky, being chosen by Washington because of his integrity. He was also appointed first Chief Justice of Kentucky but declined the office. John Buchanan (1772-1844), of Scottish ancestry, was Chief Justice of Maryland, and Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals for thirty-seven years. His brother, Thomas, was associated with him on the bench. David Torrance (1840-1906), Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Connecticut, was born in Edinburgh.

Scots As Ambassadors.

Some of those who have represented this country at foreign courts previously held office in the Cabinet or were Members of the Senate are noted under these headings:

John Graham (1774-1820), Minister-Plenipotentiary to Brazil (1819), was brother of George Graham, Acting Secretary of War in the cabinets of Madison and Monroe. Charles Johnston McCurdy (b. 1797), of Ulster Scot descent, was Minister to Austria (1851-52) and Justice of the Supreme Court. Miller Grieve (1801-78), born in Edinburgh, Representative in the Georgia Legislature, Chairman of Board of Trustees of Oglethorpe University, was Chargé d'Affaires at Copenhagen. William Hunter (1774-1849), of Scottish parentage, a scholar and linguist, United States Senator from Rhode Island (1812-20), was Minister-Plenipotentiary to Brazil in 1834. William Bradford Reed (1806-76) was Envoy-Extraordinary and Minister-Plenipotentiary to China. Lewis Davis Campbell (1811-82), Chairman Ways and Means Committee in the thirty-fourth Congress, was United States Minister to Mexico. Robert Milligan McLane (1815-98), son of Allen McLane, was United States Minister to China (1853-55), Mexico (1859-60), and France (1885-88). John M. Forbes (d. 1831), descendant of the Scottish family of Forbes, was Secretary of Legation to Buenos Ayres (1823) and Chargé d'Affaires (1825-31). James Hepburn Campbell (1820-95) Member of Congress and Minister to Sweden and Norway (1864-67). John Adam Kasson (1822-1910), descendant of Adam Kasson (1721) from Argyllshire, had a distinguished career, the list of honors held by him is long. Whitelaw Reid (1837-1912), one of the half dozen most distinguished representatives of this country abroad was of Scottish descent on both sides. Wayne MacVeagh (b. 1833), of Scottish origin, was United States Minister to Turkey (1870-71), Ambassador to Italy (1893-97), and was also Attorney-General under President Garfield. Thomas Barker Ferguson (b. 1841), diplomat and inventor, was great-grandson of James Ferguson who emigrated from Scotland at end of seventeenth century. He was Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries (1878-87), Envoy-Extraordinary and Minister-Plenipotentiary to Sweden and Norway (1893-97), etc. His grandfather was a Member of the South Carolina Provincial Legislature and Member of the Council of Safety. Whiteside Godfrey Hunter, born in Londonderry in 1841, of Scottish ancestry, was a Member of Congress and Envoy-Extraordinary and Minister-Plenipotentiary to Guatemala and Honduras. Richard Renshaw Neill (b. 1845), was Secretary of United States Legation at Lima, Peru, and has been Chargé d'Affaires there eight different times. Hugh Anderson Dinsmore (b. 1850), of Ulster Scot origin, was Minister Resident and Consul General in Corea (1887-90) and later Member of Congress (1892-1906). John Wallace Riddle (b. 1864), held several diplomatic posts culminating in becoming Ambassador to Russia (1906-09). Thomas Cleland Dawson (b. 1865), son of a native of Clackmannan, was Secretary of the American Legation to Brazil (1897-1904), Minister Resident and Consul General to Santo Domingo (1904), and author of "South American Republics," a standard work (2 v. 1903-4). George Brinton McClellan Harvey the present Ambassador to Great Britain is descended from Stuart Harvey who came from Scotland in 1820.

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