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Journal Article

The Highest Possible Generality: The Militia and Moral Philosophy in Enlightenment Scotland

01 Jan 2003-Journal on firearms and public policy (Second Amendment Foundation)-Vol. 15, Iss: 1
TL;DR: The debate in the mid-18th century over whether Scotland should be allowed to participate in the English militia revealed a profound ideological split among political thinkers of the time as mentioned in this paper, with militia advocates emphasizing the importance of social connections based on reciprocity and on shared values of virtue.
Abstract: Eighteenth century armies did little to encourage morality or intellect among the ranks. The ordinary soldier was expected to do nothing more than respond robotically with well-practiced motions to a few rudimentary signals. Armies withstood the effects of individual soldiers being idiots or reprobates, so long as the soldiers met the basic requirement of standing in line while being shot at. Good character among the officers might influence the men, but bravery or acuity among the men could not remedy the deficiency in officers. Such norms, while they met the practical requirements of nations, tended to contradict two themes of Enlightenment thought: movement of order within the system was strictly unidirectional, and standing armies respected no essential characteristics inherent in all levels of constituency. Because moral philosophers of the time sought to create government institutions that were representative of the character and interests of society, some intellectuals questioned the propriety of the military arrangements of the day. These philosophers did not attack the internal structure of armies, but rather recommended maintaining a citizen militia in order to diminish the army's prominence in society. They believed that militia promoted a healthy interchange of qualities between citizens and government. This sentiment in favor of militia reached its greatest expression among a group of Scottish literati in the second half of the Eighteenth century. The debate in the mid-18th century over whether Scotland should be allowed to participate in the English militia revealed a profound ideological split among political thinkers of the time. On the one hand, militia critics such as Adam Smith saw man as essentially an economic creature motivated by selfishness. Militia advocates, in contrast, emphasized the importance of social connections based on reciprocity and on shared values of virtue.
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TL;DR: The importance of tobacco in the economies of colonial Virginia and Maryland is a truism as discussed by the authors, however, its importance in the development of Scottish overseas trade is less well known than that of other sectors of the Scottish economy.
Abstract: T THE ministers, lawyers, 'teachers, artisans, the books, letters, ideas that made the ocean crossing from Scotland to North America in the eighteenth century went as freight in vessels bound upon other business. More often than not, these vessels were outward bound from the Clyde for the Chesapeake to bring home tobacco for all the North and West of Europe. It will thus not be out of place, in this issue devoted to the cultural relations between Scotland and America in the eighteenth century, to examine, if only briefly, those material relationships which facilitated, if they did not entirely account for, the other, less material, exchanges. The importance of tobacco in the economies of colonial Virginia and Maryland is a truism. Its importance in the development of Scottish overseas trade is less well known. In I772, tobacco accounted for 8o per cent of all Scottish imports from North America (at official values) ! 1 Ten years earlier (i762), the proportion had been 85 per cent-or 74 per cent of imports from North America and the West Indies combined. In fact, in that year (i762), tobacco constituted 40 per cent of all Scottish imports from abroad (excluding England), or 47 per cent if Ireland is not treated as "overseas." On the other side of the ledger, the situation was comparable. Tobacco accounted for 8i per cent of Scottish re-exports of foreign produce in I762, and for 52 per cent of all Scottish exports.2 Other sectors of the Scottish economy could not have been unaffected, for in 1769 Virginia and Maryland received 83 per cent of all Scottish exports to North America and the West Indies.3 Eighteenth-century customs valuations are notoriously unreliable; allowing, though, for a considerable margin of error, one cannot but be impressed with the preponderant role played by a single commodity in the foreign commerce of this not uncommercial nation. For

40 citations