Empire and National Identity

Esther Breitenbach

in Empire and Scottish Society

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780748636204
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653485 | DOI:
Empire and National Identity

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This chapter discusses the opportunities for careers for Scots in the empire which began to grow in the mid-eighteenth century, in the colonial service, the army, and commerce, while missionary careers became a possibility from the early nineteenth century. It notes that in the eighteenth century ‘Scots swarmed eagerly into the wide-open world’. It further notes that in the West Indies, Scots turned their attention to plantations, and by the late eighteenth century had acquired about a quarter of all taxable land in Jamaica. It observes that the opportunities offered to Scots to demonstrate their military prowess has been interpreted as a major reason for the failure of Scottish nationalism to emerge as a significant force in the nineteenth century, since Scots were able ‘to re-invent their national identity in ways which accommodated themselves to the British state and Empire’.

Keywords: empire; colonial service; army; commerce; missionary careers; Scots; nationalism; national identity; British state

Chapter.  8019 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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