Saturday, 28 July 2012
The 19th century had started with a further expansion of the Union which brought Ireland into it. The failure of the planned risings in Scotland and Ireland had the effect of causing a cessation of Radical political activity - but only temporarily. The reaction of the British Government was still fresh in the memories of republicans. What political activity there was during the nineteenth century was mainly related to the Industrial Revolution. There was to be an event in 1820, details of which came to light in 1970, and even today in 2012 these details are still widely unknown.
'No full-length study of the uprising had ever been attempted; in fact, hardly anyone in Scotland had even heard of the event. It had been deleted almost entirely from Scottish historical consciousness.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, from the Preface to the 1989 Edition, p. 1,
'Our knowledge of the event and the personalities involved has continued to expand. Prior to this volume's first appearance, the events of April 1820 had almost been deleted from Scottish history. Even after publication, the event was regarded with some discomfiture by certain sections of academia. Perhaps there was a feeling of guilt that such an important event had previously been ignored by historians. In an apparent attempt to justify this, a few scholars have tried to downplay the insurrection and its significance.
Two aspects of therising seem to particularly increase scholastic discomfiture.
Firstly, the fact that it was an aim of the Scottish Radicals to set up a separate parliament in Edinburgh has been met with sceptical posturing. Yet this aim was clearly spelt out by Glasgow Police Chief, James Mitchell, in his letters to the Home Secretary, Lord Sidmouth, of March 18 and 29 1820.
Secondly, a few scholars,...have baulked at accepting any widespread involvement of Government agents provocateur in instigating the rising. Again, this is simply a denial of clear primary source evidence.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, from the Preface to the 2001 Edition, pp. xi-xii.
1803 - 1902:
Early 19th Century
In 1812 there was an industrial strike by weavers throughout Scotland. This industrial action came after weavers had proposed wage rates which were ruled by a court to be "moderate and reasonable", employers, however, decided not to accept that decision. This was the trigger for the emergence of the Scottish Radical movement.
'On October 29, 1816, it was estimated that 40,000 people attended this first massive Scottish Radical demonstration - which became known as the Thrushgrove Meeting.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 103.
'The Glasgow gathering in October 1816 at Thrushgrove on the outskirts of the city attracted an estimated 40,000 people, the greatest political assembly that had ever taken place in Scotland.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Nation 1700-2000' by T.M. Devine, p. 224.
'The swing to Scottish Radicalism was spectacular and Richmond and his fellow agents were busy trying to stir up some form of unconstitutional protest among the Radicals in order to give the Government a legal excuse for the suppression of the movement.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 105.
'After lying almost dormant for a year following the farcical High Treason trials in 1817, the Scottish Radical movement was growing stronger than ever before. Paisley, the centre of the weaving trade in Scotland, was also the main centre of Radicalism.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 115.
'The red cap of Liberty made a startling reappearance at a Paisley meeting for reform, and five thousand regulars were marched into the south-west. Young Radicals had begun their military training in 1819, but the movement was weak and ill-armed, and its leaders did not think a rising would be possible before 1821. The establishment could not wait this long and on March 21, 1820...it arrested all twenty-eight members of the hopeful Provisional Government...Since they had been careful to keep most of their names and much of their activities secret, the body of the movement was unaware that its head had been removed.'
SOURCE: 'The Lion in the North' by James Prebble, p. 319.
The Radical Rising
'THE SCOTTISH INSURRECTION OF 1820 was predominantly a gregarian Radical uprising born out of the social evils of the time...But as well as the Radical reform aspect, there was also a strong Scottish national aspect, for it was the intention of the 1820 Radicals, as well as that of The Friends of the People, in the early 1790's, and their successors, the United Scotsmen Societies, to dissolve the Union of Parliaments between England and Scotland of 1707 and "to set up a Scottish Assembly or Parliament in Edinburgh".'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 36.
On 1 April, 1820 a proclamation, in the name of the 'Committee of Organisation for Forming a PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT' was posted on the walls of buildings in Glasgow as well as in the towns and villages of several other counties.
'Reading the proclamation, Hunter made a mental note for the editorial jeader which he was to write in his newspaper the next day. He noticed that in one paragraph the proclamation referred to Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights, which were not part of Scottish history. To Hunter this seemed to suggest that the author was an Englishman, because a Scot would naturally refer to the Declaration of Arbroath in the place of the English Magna Carta. As later events were to show, this was a highly significant fact.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 25.
'ON MONDAY MORNING, April 2, 1820 , the effect of the call for a "Liberty or Death" uprising could be seen across the whole of South-West Scotland. In obedience to the command of the "Provisional Government" almost all the labouring population had abandoned their work and where any remained, agents from the various Radical Committees compelled them to stop. Even in Glasgow "this was done openly". From Stirling to Girvan, seventy miles from east to west, and from Dumbarton to Lanark, forty miles from north to south, all the weavers, mechanical manufacturing and labouring population became idle and the Radical Committees began to make preparations.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 146.
'The trials for High Treason were actually held under English Law and not Scottish Law, contravening the Treaty of Union of 1707.
These records are now held by the Scottish Record Office, referenced as "JC 21".'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, from the Preface to the 1989 Edition, p. 7.
'The trials for treason which followed were held in defiance of bitter protest, and in violation of the Treaty of Union, for they were conducted by English law and prosecuted by an English barrister. Of twenty-four men and boys sentenced to death, all but three were eventually transported for life. These three were weavers: James Wilson,,,Andrew Hardie...and John Baird...'
SOURCE: 'The Lion in the North' by James Prebble, p. 320.
Middle to late 19th Century
After the trials the aims of the Radical movement faded until later in the 19th century. There was a brief attemptin the 1850's when the National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights was formed in 1853.
'But the National Association also demonstrated how feeble political nationalism was in the 1850s. It lasted for only three years and was wound up in 1856:...'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Nation 1700-2000' by T.M. Devine, p. 287.
'On the other hand, 1886 saw the foundation of the Scottish Home Rule Association. The agitation of the 1880s did not produce Home Rule, but it did produce a Secretary for Scotland in 1885...'
SOURCE: 'Scotland: The Shaping of a Nation' by Gordon Donaldson, p. 126.
'In 1885 the office of Secretary of Scotland was revived, the Scottish Office established in London and a Scottish Standing Committee was set up in 1894 to consider all Scottish legislation. In addition, a Scottish Home Rule Association was founded to campaign for a parliament in Edinburgh. Between 1886 and 1900, seven Scottish Home Rule motions were presented to parliament. Those submitted in 1894 and 1895 gained majorities but failed because of a lack of parliamentary time.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Nation 1700-2000' by T.M. Devine, pp. 307 - 308.
Friday, 20 July 2012
'By the early eighteenth century, Scotland was a kingdom in crisis. Her economy had been severely weakened by a series of major harvest failures beginning in 1695. The 'Lean Years' of the 1690s were compounded by the catastrophic failure of the Darien Scheme and the attempt to establish a Scottish imperial outlet, the colony of Caledonia, on the Isthmus of Darien. Deliberately sabotaged by the combined efforts of the English East India Company, the international financial markets at Amsterdam and King William, it is estimated that almost 25% of Scotland's total liquid capital was lost in the Darien venture.'
SOURCE: 'The Last Scottish Parliament', BBC, paragraph 1.
1703 - 1802:
'1703-5 ANTECEDENTS OF THE TREATY OF UNION
...England, in 1701, had settled the succession on the Hanoverian line, but no such provision had been made in Scotland. This meant that on Anne's death, either the personal union might be dissolved or the relations between the two countries could be revised. The Scottish parliament which met in 1703 could not be controlled by the court, and it passed acts, which contained threats that Scotland would pursue an independent foreign policy and might appoint a different successor from the successor to the English throne. England retaliated in 1705 with the Alien Act, which declared that, until Scotland accepted the Hanoverian succession, all Scots would be treated as aliens in England and the import of cattle, sheep, coal and linen from Scotland into England would not be allowed; this measure stimulated the Scots into appointing commissioners to treat for union.'
SOURCE: 'Scottish Historical Documents' by Professor Gordon Donaldson, pp. 265-266.
Treaty of Union (1707)
'The English had decided to insist on 'incorporating union' at all costs. The Scots had a preference for some sort of federation, but they had no clear scheme for this, and the obvious foreign example of federation, the Netherlands, did not provide an encouraging model...There was not available in 1706 a formal study of political institutions, or a wealth of written constitutions to consider as examples.'
SOURCE: 'A History of Scotland' by Rosalind Mitchison, p. 308
'Professor Lodge, an English historian and pro-Unionist, admits...that:
"They [the English Government] had commercial inducements to offer and the ruin of Scottish agriculture to threaten, and by a judicious combination of bribes and menaces, they succeeded in bringing about the negotiations of 1706."
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 42, ISBN 0 85976 519 9.
'1706-7 THE ARTICLES OF UNION
Commissioners representing Scotland and England sat from 16 April 1706 to 22 July, when the Articles of Union were signed. The Articles were debated in the Scottish parliament from 3 October 1706 to 16 January 1707, when they were ratified with only minor changes. The English parliament then likewise adopted them and they received the royal assent on 6 March.'
SOURCE: 'Scottish Historical Documents' by Professor Gordon Donaldson, pp. 268-269.
All of the commissioners representing Scotland were appointed by Queen Anne and, apart from one of them, were in favour of an incorporating union with England. During the period in which the Articles of the proposed Union were being debated by the Scottish parliament there were riots throughout Scotland.
There is a widespread belief that the failure of the Darien venture was directly responsible for the Scots decision to treat for Union with England. That is a myth. It is quite clear that the cause of the Treaty of Union in 1707, between Scotland and England, was, in actual fact, the Alien Act of 1705.
The Company of Scotland, which was formed in 1695, was initially set up for the purpose of trading with Africa and the Indies. After this was blocked it became the focus of a Scottish attempt to found a colony on the Darien isthmus. The following is an extract from Article XV of the Treaty of Union in 1707 -
'...This 'Equivalent' is to be devoted to...(b) payment of the capital (with interest) advanced for the Company of Scotland (which is to be dissolved)...'
SOURCE: 'Scottish Historical Documents' by Professor Gordon Donaldson, p. 271.
'Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, an ardent pro-unionist and Union negotiator, observed that the treaty was 'contrary to the inclinations of at least three-fourths of the Kingdom'.'
SOURCE: 'The Last Scottish Parliament', BBC, paragraph 18,
'Parliament was adjourned on 25th March and the Estates were ordered to reconvene on 22nd April. No such meeting appears to have taken place and on 28th April the Scottish Parliament was dissolved by proclamation.'
SOURCE: 'The Last Scottish Parliament', BBC, paragraph 15.
'The Estates met for the last time on March 25, 1707.'
SOURCE: 'The Lion in the North' by John Prebble, p. 285.
'Furthermore, there were grounds for believing that England might impose a military solution in order to safeguard her northern borders if the union project failed. Godolphin made veiled threats to this effect and, as has been seen, troops had been stationed in the north of England and reinforcements also sent to northern Ireland.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Nation 1700-2000' by T.M. Devine, p. 16, ISBN 0-713-99351-0.
'England was not going to permit a disruption of the existing union, and the scanty and ill-trained Scottish regiments could not have resisted Marlborough's veterans.'
SOURCE: 'Scotland: The Shaping of a Nation' by Gordon Donaldson, p. 57.
'Yet the Scots made a grave miscalculation. They thought of the treaty as a written constitution, and, even with all the concessions they had obtained, they would not have accepted that an omni-competent parliament had power to abrogate provisions which they fondly imagined to be 'fundamental and essential'...But the theories of English constitutional lawyers prevailed, and the union has proved to have no more sanctity than any other statute...The list of violations of the treaty is already a long one and always growing longer...The fact is that, contrary to the beliefs and hopes of those who framed it, the treaty of union has proved to be a scrap of paper, to be torn up at the whim of any British government.'
SOURCE: 'Scotland: The Shaping of a Nation' by Gordon Donaldson, pp. 58-59.
After the Union
'But Union froze many Scottish institutions in the attitude, or stage of development, of 1707, and made it hard for them to adapt in the next hundred and twenty years...Scotland was to suffer from undergovernment, and in particular from a lack of legislation for a long time.
...in the work of Parliament, it was rare for a Scottish model to be preferred to an English one, even when, as for the instance of the Scottish system of banking, it was a better one.'
SOURCE: 'A History of Scotland' by Rosalind Mitchison, pp. 312-313.
'In response to the abortive Jacobite rising of 1708, the new United Kingdom parliament in 1709 extended the draconian English law of treason to Scotland against the concerted opposition of the Scottish members in the Commons.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Nation 1700-2000' by T.M. Devine, p. 18.
The first attempt, other than the failed rising in 1708, to dissolve the Treaty of Union was in 1713 -
'To the Scots this was the climax of a whole stream of provocative actions which threatened to break the union. Scottish peers and members of the Commons came together in a series of meetings and agreed that the only solution was repeal of the treaty. What was remarkable was the unanimity of all the parties on such a fundamental issue...The motion was put by the Earl of Findlater in the House of Lords in June 1713 and was only narrowly defeated by four proxy votes.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Nation 1700-2000' by T.M. Devine, p. 20,
'In June, 1713, the Scots peers introduced a bill to repeal the Union. It was narrowly defeated, but it is doubtful if anyone would have known what to do had it passed. The horse was gone, and there was no stable door.'
SOURCE: 'The Lion in the North' by John Prebble, p. 285.
With regard to Scottish Independence the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745 must be treated with a degree of circumspection. While assurances were given by James Francis Edward Stuart (the Old Pretender) regarding dissolving the Treaty of Union in 1707 it is more likely that the main aim in the 1715 rising was the restoration of a Stuart to the thrones of Scotland and England and in 1745 to the British throne.
'...and the far more dangerous Shawfield riots in 1725 in Glasgow over the enhanced malt tax...Only Glasgow rioted...but the towns all over Scotland were ready to join in and every sign points to this being a movement of national resistance.'
SOURCE: 'A History of Scotland' by Rosalind Mitchison, p. 326.
Towards the end of the 18th century, following the French revolution and the American War of Independence, there was an increase in political societies founded on the philosophies of these events.
'In Scotland, the move to this way of thinking was a more gradual one. Nevertheless...succeeded in forming a movement based on the lines of the first United Irishmen societies, called the Friends of the People. This was, at first, a reform movement but its leaders were republican almost to a man. They were quite open in advocating the repeal of the Union with England, which made them "nationalists" as well.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A' Ghobhainn, p. 56,
'By the spring of 1797 the United Scotsmen had spread rapidly, completely taking over from the Friends of the People.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 75.
'The year 1798 proved a fateful one. It was in January of that year that the Government learnt the truth of what was about to happen in Ireland and Scotland. Their informers told them that the United Irishmen and the United Scotsmen were going to set up separate republics in Ireland and Scotland.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 80.
Treaty of Union (1801)
In June 1800 the Treaty of Union, which expanded the existing Union of England and Scotland (Wales having been incorporated into the realm of England in 1284 following military conquest) to include Ireland, was agreed. That Treaty came into effect on 1 January 1801 as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
'At first the Irish Parliament rejected the Union when it was put to a vote in 1799...The Union of the British and Irish Parliaments in 1800 cost the Government of Britain more than a million pounds in bribes...Thus the majority of the 300 members of the Irish Parliament were "persuaded" to vote for Union either by blackmail, financial gain, or the enticement of higher position.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 83.
There is a misconception that the United Kingdom was created through the Treaty of Union in 1801. That is incorrect. The term United Kingdom was used for the first time, as part of the formal name, in that treaty, however, the United Kingdom was initially created through the Treaty of Union in 1707. The term is used a number of times in the Articles of the 1707 treaty.
Thursday, 12 July 2012
'Independence for Scotland; that is the restoration of Scottish national sovereignty by restoration of full powers to the Scottish Parliament, so that its authority is limited only by the sovereign power of the Scottish People to bind it with a written constitution and by such agreements as it may freely enter into with other nations or states or international organisations for the purpose of furthering international cooperation, world peace and the protection of the environment.'
SOURCE: Constitution of the Scottish National Party.
The case for Scottish independence is better understood when it is put in the context of actual historical facts and not the negative, distorting and selective arguments of its opponents. I have attempted to provide such a better understanding by spreading the most pertinent historical facts (mainly using extracts and specifying sources) over five periods of time -
Part 1: 1603 - 1702
Part 2: 1703 - 1802
Part 3: 1803 - 1902
Part 4: 1903 - 2002
Part 5: 2003 - 2012