“Scots have largely contributed to raise the standard of education and culture in the United States” so says Dr. George Fraser Black in his book Scotland’s Mark on America. (The book is now in the Public Domain.) He believes that Scots furnished most of the principal teachers in the Colonies south of New York. The professors in Harvard and William and Mary College were mostly graduates of Scottish and English universities in the early years.
The Scots established the Log College at Nashaminy, Pennsylvania, Jefferson College, Mercer College, Wabash College and Dickinson College. “The Log College was the seed from which Princeton College sprang. The University of North Carolina was founded and nurtured by Scots in 1793 as was the University of Pennsylvania. The first private gift to establish a “free school” in North Carolina came from James Innes. He came to America from Canisbay, Caithness, in 1734. He gave his plantation, his personal estate and his library.
Here are some other names, mostly forgotten now, but all of them believed in education for the people We remember them on this Tartan Day, April 6, 2011.
- James Blair (1656-1734) born in Edinburgh, was the chef founder and first president of William and Mary College.
- Francis Alison (1705-1799), educated in Glasgow, was Vice-Provost of the College of Philadelphia, now the University of Pennsylvania.
- The man who taught Thomas Jefferson was Samuel Finley a graduate of Glasgow University. He was born in Armagh and in 1763 was the President of the College of New Jersey.
- Isabella Graham (17445-1799) born in Lanarkshire, was one of the most successful teachers in New York at the end of the eighteenth century.
- William Graham, was the first president of Washington College, now Washington and Lee University.
- Thomas Craighead was the first president of Davidson Academy, now the University of Nashville.
- Joseph Caldwell (1773-1835) was Founder and President of the University of North Carolina.
- Charles Macalister (1798-1873), born of Scottish parents in Philadelphia, was founder of Macalister College in Minneapolis.
- John Dempster (1794-1863) President of Illinois Wesleyan University was of Scottish parentage.
This is only a small list of the names in Dr. Black’s book. These are people mostly forgotten but each made a large contribution to the educational system of America and we thank them for their efforts.
Wayne Rethford, Historian
Illinois St. Andrew's Society