See Also: Scotland | Important People

Introduction | Famous Scots

The cover note for, "How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It", 2001, by Arthur Herman, says:

"Mention of Scotland and the Scots usually conjures up images of kilts, bagpipes, Scotch whiskey, and golf. But as historian and author Arthur Herman demonstrates, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Scotland earned the respect of the rest of the world for its crucial contributions to science, philosophy, literature, education, medicine, commerce, and politics -- contributions that have formed and nurtured the modern West ever since.
  Here is the untold story of how John Knox and the Church of Scotland laid the foundation for our modern idea of democracy; how the Scottish Enlightenment helped to inspire both the American Revolution and the U.S. Constitution; and how thousands of Scottish immigrants left their homes to create the American frontier, the Australian outback, and the British Empire in India, South Africa and Hong Kong.
  It reveals how Scottish genius for creating the basic ideas and institutions of modern life stamped the lives of a series of remarkable historical figures, from James Watt and Adam Smith to Andrew Carnegie and Arthur Conan Doyle, and how Scottish heroes continure to inspire our contemporary culture, from William "Braveheart" Wallace to James Bond.

King George called the America Revolution "the Presbyterian Revolution" because so many Presbyterian ministers were influential in starting and supplying American independence.

In Herman's Preface he says, "Obviously, the Scots did not do everything by themselves; other nations - Germans, French, English, Italians, Russians, many others - supplied bricks and mortar for building the modern world. But it is the Scots who drew up the blueprints and taught us how to judge the final product."

In John Kenneth Galbraith's article "The Scotch Among Us", Readers Digest, Feb. 1986, he lists some Scottish traits: hard working (necessary for early American agriculture), thrift (no alternative in the absence of money), concern for education (Presbyterian colleges and universities - Knox in IL, Macalester in MN, Princeton in NJ, and Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh). He calls Andrew Carnegie's endowments to 2,509 libraries the greatest inducement to literacy since the printing press.
But at the end he says "Scotch tolerance, we would love to believe, is our best contribution to the American Scene."

Some of those below are Ulster Scots (or Scotch-Irish). The majority of the protestants in Northern Ireland (most of the original province of Ulster) immigrated from Scotland in the 17th century. See N. Ireland.
For example William McKinley, 25th president of the United States, is consider an Ulster Scot, because his G-G-G-Grandfather who immigrated to the colonies in the early 1700's came from Ireland, but he was the only ancestor born in Ireland, all those before him were born in Scotland.

People born in Scotland, although many immigrated to the U.S. and did their most important work there.
John Knox (1505-1572) Churchman and father of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland. Bitterly opposed by the catholic Mary Queen of Scots.
Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) Last Roman Catholic monarch of Scotland.
David Hume (1711-1776) Philosopher, agnostic and leading figure of the Scottish Enlightenment.
Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788) The "Young Pretender", grandson of James VII of Scotland (James II of England). Bonnie Prince Charlie lead the Jacobite Uprising of 1745/46 until they were defeated at the Battle of Culloden.
John Witherspoon (1723-1794) Scottish minister urged the signing of the Declaration of Independence Sixth president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton U.).
Adam Smith (1723-1790) Wrote the first "modern" book on economics, advocating free trade to increase wealth.
James Watt (1736-1819) Perfected the steam engine
Alexander Mackenzie (1764-1820) first recorded transcontinental crossing of North America north of Mexico
John Paul Jones (1747-1792) Established the U.S. Navy
John McAdam (1756-1836) Developed the process of "Macadamisation" for road building.
Robert Burns (1759-1796) Scotland's most celebrated poet.
David Livingstone (1813-1873) Explorer and medical missionary. First European to discover Victoria Falls in Africa
James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) Crerated a profound change in the conception of reality in physics.
John Muir (1834-1914) One of the founders of United States Conservation.
Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) The railway, iron and steel tycoon who gave all his wealth away.
John Boyd Dunlop (1840-1921) Invented the pneumatic bicycle tire. Established the Dunlop Rubber Company.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Author of such classics as "Treasure Island" and "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde".
Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) Invented the telephone.
Sir Thomas Lipton (1850-1931) Lipton revolutionised the retail grocery trade.
Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) Scottish physician and writer, most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes.
Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) Discovered penicillin
John Baird (1888-1946) Scottish engineer developed television
Bobby Thompson (1923-2010) NY Giants baseball player - His three-run home run for the Giants in a playoff game against the Brooklyn Dodgers won the 1951 National League pennant, known as the "Shot Heard 'Round the World".
Ulster Scots (or Scotch-Irish):
William Thomson 1st Baron Kelvin (1824-1907) The Belfast born Kelvin was Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow University for 53 years, one of the founders of modern physics and the pre-eminent scientist of the nineteenth century. Kelvin had a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of physics: heat, light, sound, electricity.
Isabella Tod (1836-1896) Born in Edinburgh, Isabella Tod lived in Belfast for most of her life and became Ulster's pre-eminent advocate of votes for women and women's education.
People born in America with Scottish Ancestry:
Patrick Henry (1736-1799) prominent figure in the American Revolution, Henry is known and remembered for his "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!" speech. Governor of Virginia.
Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) Perhaps America's best-known portrait artist
Robert Fulton (1765-1815) Steam Boat
Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) Seventh President of the United States
Samuel Morse (1791-1872) Revolutionized communications with the telegraph and Morse Code
Andrew Johnson (1808-1875) 17th President of the United States
Cyrus McCormick (1809-1884) Perfected the Reaper. He and his brothers established the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company eventually becoming International Harvister.
The Mellons (1813-1908)
Banking, aluminum, Gulf Oil
Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990) Publisher of Forbes Magazine
His father was born in Scotland
Herman Melville (1819-1891) American writer best known for Moby-Dick
Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) Civil war general and 18th president of the United States
William McKinley (1843-1901) 25th president of the United States. Great Great Grandson of David McKinley who settled in York Co. PA around 1745. His ancestors came from Perthshire (Clan Farquharson). See The Scotch Ancestors of William McKinley
Thomas Edison (1847-1931) Invented the Light Bulb. His Mother, Nancy Elliot, was the daughter of a Scotch Baptist minister in Ontario Canada.
Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) 28th President of the United States. Governor of New Jersey. Won the 1919 Nobel Peace prize for his roll in creating the League of Nations. Quoted as saying, "Every line of strength in American history is a fine line coloured with Scottish blood"
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt (1858-1919) 26th President of the United States.
Roosevelt's G G Grandfather on his mother's side was John Stewart and early Scottish immigrant to America
Robert Millikan (1868-1991) Nobel physicist at U. of Chicago
Irving Langmuir (1881-1957) Nobel chemist and physicist at General Electric
Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982) American Poet Laureate
Rachel Carson (1907-1964) Marine Biologist, Environmentalist. Author of "Silent Spring"
Edwin McMillan (1907-1991) Nobel physicist at UC Berkeley and MIT
John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) writer, economist, Ambassador to India. Born in Ontario Canada to parents of Scottish descent.
Richard Nixon (1913-1994) 37th president of the United States
Bette Nesmith Graham (1924-1980) Created "Liquid Paper" - a correction fluid.
Other Presidents of Scottish descent: James Monroe, Rutherford Hayes, Woodrow Wilson.
Notable Americans of Scotch Irish descent - Wikipedia lists: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, James Polk, James Buchanan, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Truman, Eisenhauer, Carter, Regan, Clinton and the Bushs.
The List of Scotch-Irish Americans adds President Obama, so half of our 43 presidents had some Scotch or Scotch-Irish blood.
In addition there are: John McCain, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Johnny Carson, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, Loretta Lynn, Bonnie Raitt, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Elvis, David Niven, Charlton Heston, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Lemmon, James Coburn, Robert Mitchum, Ava Gardner, Shirley MacLaine, Elizabeth Taylor, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Bill Gates, Kit Carson, Davy Crockett, Martha Graham, Thomas J. Watson, Arthur K. Watson and many other notable Americans.
Others born outside the US include: John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, Rupert Murdoch, Joan Sutherland,

"How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It", 2001, by Arthur Herman
The Scots, John Kenneth Galbraith
The Scottish 100: Portraits of History's Most Influential Scots, (2000), by Duncan A. Bruce
"The Scotch Among Us", John Kenneth Galbraith, Readers Digest, Feb. 1986

Mural in Glasgow Airport

Scottish Culture
Scotland: Famous People at
Famous Scots at
The Scottish 100: the most influential Scots in history. From Duncan Bruce's book (above).
Scottish and Scotch-Irish Americans - History, The scotch-irish, Immigration, Settlement patterns.
Famous Ulster Scots
Ulster - Northern Ireland
Scottish American - Wikipedia
List of Scotch-Irish Americans - Wikipedia
Scotch-Irish Americans - Wikipedia Scottish Culture
Scotland History

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last updated 20 Aug 2010