Hi, you are logged in as , if you are not , please click here
You are shopping as , if this is not your email, please click here

Scotland and America in the Age of Paine/ Ronald Lyndsay Crawford

Cover image with Robert Aitken engraving from the contents page of The Pennsylvania Magazine



Ronald Lyndsay Crawford, Scotland and America in the Age of Paine, 558pp, xxiv, ill., Aberdeen University Press; Aberdeen, 2022. ISBN 978-1-85752-090-3. £45

Available Open Access - free to read and free to download from Aberdeen University Press. Link below.



Detailed Description

Ronald Lyndsay Crawford, Scotland and America in the Age of Paine, 558pp, xxiv, ill., Aberdeen University Press; Aberdeen, 2022. ISBN 978-1-85752-090-3. £45

Available Open Access: https://doi.org/10.57132/book20

Thomas Paine is rightly regarded as among the most influential of English political iconoclasts. His two best-known works – Common Sense (1776) and Rights of Man (1791) – ensured his remarkable success in positioning himself, both literally and literarily, at the forefront of both the American and French revolutions. It is no exaggeration that Paine’s works lie at the heart of popular revolutionary sentiment as it came to express itself in the later eighteenth century. For that reason they were regarded at one level as manifestos of the crying need for social and political change, but at the same time by government and the law as dangerous instruments of sedition and republicanism. 

In this new title from Aberdeen University Press, Dr Ronald Crawford explores how, in both Scotland and America, Paine’s brand of radicalism took particular hold, though only for a limited period – the ‘Age of Paine’.

Part One of the book explores American themes discoverable in the works of Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson; the explosive political impact within Scotland of Rights of Man (1776); and how Scottish precedents, through the writings of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, helped shape the educational system of the early United States.

Part Two examines the careers of four Scots emigrants who made distinguished contributions to the American ideal of liberty: the ‘bookman’ Robert Aitken who employed Paine as contributing editor of his Pennsylvania Magazine; John Witherspoon, President of the College of New Jersey, one of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence in 1776; the radical poet, Alexander Wilson, whose (very different) Scottish and American careers are re-examined with the help of newly found original sources; and the lawyer from Fife, James Wilson, another signer, whose remarkable contributions to the evolution of the US Constitution are considered from the point of view of his indebtedness to numerous Scottish sources.


Part One

Scotland and America in the Age of Paine

  1. Introductory – An ‘Age of Paine’?

The Age of Paine
The Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707: its relevance to the American crisis
Virtual Scottish voices in Paine’s Common Sense (1776)
Two Scots respond to Common Sense
1. Plain Truth by ‘Candidus’ (James Chalmers)
2. The letters of ‘Cato’ (William Smith)
John Witherspoon v. Tom Paine: the reaction of an orthodox Kirk minister
Scots loyalists and American patriots: the ‘poisonous blasts of Scottish tyranny’
Paine’s Rights of Man (1791): its American roots and Scottish consequences

  1. Hume, Smith, and Ferguson – Ideas of liberty, the Scottish Enlightenment,
    and the problem of America, with a preliminary note on Hutcheson

Preamble: The cold case of Francis Hutcheson re-opened
The consuming paradox of David Hume and America
Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776) as a book about America
Adam Ferguson: a Scots moral philosopher rebuffed by Congress

  1. Paine in Scotland – The fateful impact of ‘Rights of Man’

Scotland and the French Revolution
A radical Enlightenment in Scotland
1. The modern enigma of Adam Smith’s politics
2. John Millar of Glasgow, republican
Rights of Man and the trial of Thomas Muir
Religion in politics, and the politics of religion in Scotland in the Age of Paine
Paine and Ireland: the Dublin and Belfast Addresses to Scottish reformers
The still potent ‘Paine factor’, freemasonry, and the Society of United Scotsmen

  1. The Scottish religious establishment and America in the Age of Paine
    – A divided Kirk 

Preamble: A note on Paine and religion
A divided Kirk
John Erskine’s America
‘O tempora, O mores!’
William Thom of Govan:
1. On emigration to the ‘wide and pleasant fields of America’
2. The trilogy of American war sermons
The Moderates and the American war

  1. America learns from Scotland
    – Seeking improvement: from Franklin to Jefferson 

‘Exploded systems and obsolete prejudices’
Benjamin Franklin: letting ‘light into the Nature of Things’
An improbable friendship: Franklin and John Anderson
John Anderson: ‘An enthusiastic admirer of America & her Government’

  1. Slavery in the Age of Paine – ‘Forget not the hapless African’

Personal preamble
Scotland and America in the Age of Paine
Thomas Paine and slavery
Classical and early Enlightenment voices on slavery
Slavery and the Scottish Enlightenment
Defending the indefensible: the Scottish legal establishment divided on
The religious dimension of slavery in Scotland
Grasping the nettle: the politics of slavery in America in the Age of Paine

Part Two

Ideas of liberty and the making of four Americans in the Age of Paine

  1. John Witherspoon (1723-1794) – Liberty as regeneration 

‘They must know what it is, if they mean even to show that it is false’
‘I have laid before you what scripture teaches on the sinfulness of our nature’
‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’
‘The wrath of man praising God’
‘The War is … at the Bottom very much a Religious War’

  1. Robert Aitken (1735-1802) – Conduit of liberty

The call of America: a sojourning visit (1769)
The call of America: the real thing (1771)
Aitken, Paine and Witherspoon: The Pennsylvania Magazine (1775-76)
Robert Aitken’s downward spiral
Aitken’s Bible
Aitken’s final years

  1. James Wilson (1742-1798) –