The Scottish Enlightenment – the new world

The second last part of my notes from The Scottish Enlightenment

Scots had been among the first to colonise Canada through Nova Scotia. Orcadians particularly were successful in the fur trade, they were able to suffer the cold of Canada. Alexander MacKenzie became the first person to cross North America in 1789 by following what became the MacKenzie river 3,000 miles to the pacific. Canada was united and brought to independence by Glaswegian John MacDonald, by negotiating independence with the British government he realised that given a choice Canada would rather remain loyal than completely separate. Sandford Fleming from Kircaldy was the Canadian governments chief engineer and finished the first railway across the country. In the 19th century time was measured from sun rise to sun set which ment it differed wherever you were, this did not matter in the days of horse travel but it ment chaos for railway timetabled. He divided the earth into segments each with their own time zone but not differing between, this was standardised in 1882 in a conference held in Washington and the on 17 November 1883 clocks around the world were set to the same standard for the first time.

Scots also had a large part in Australia. It was largely forgetted by the British until William Pitt decided to use it as a penal colony sending 160,000 convicts there. They were treated as slaves by the free colonists until sheep farmer John MacArthur was imprisoned by the governor and in revenge had the governor kidnapped and sent back to England. MacAurthur ran a militia rule for two years until the arrival of governor Lachlan Macquarie who brought order by treating the convicts with respect. He got them to clean up build roads and buildings in Sydney which was made of a dirt road and tents for buildings.

Many Scots emigrated to the US. In 1848 immigrant James Wilson Marshall discovered a piece of gold in California creating the gold rush and the first get rich quick hopes of the Americans. Scottish born shipbuilders created boats that could sail round the Americas to California in less than 90 days, a record until the age of trains. Samuel Morse, a Scottish ancestor, developed a system for sending signals along wires and his famous Morse code and in 10 years had covered the US in telegraph wires. These were later used for Alexander Graham Bell’s harmonic telegraph or telephone which was patented just two hours before his rival filed a patent application. Bell fought further rival patents but soon managed to become a monopoly and a millionaire. However the most successful Scottish-American businessman was Andrew Carneggie who invested in George Pullmans railway carrages to earn $400,000. He next invested in steel which he saw was about to become incredibly important in construction and through innovative production techniques his company was soon producing an amount equal to half entire British the output and discovered the principle of economies of scale. After a strike where 9 men were killed in riots he sold the company gaining $300 million, a fantastic sum in the days before income tax. He spent his money on public buildings including 2,800 libraries and 7,689 church organs.

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