April is Scottish Heritage Month

History of Scottish Heritage Month

Scottish Heritage Month has its roots in the celebration of Tartan Day, which originated in North America during the late 20th century. Tartan Day commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, which asserted Scotland’s independence from England. The celebration of Scottish heritage in America dates back to the earliest waves of Scottish immigration to the New World, which began in the colonial era. However, the formal establishment of Scottish Heritage Month as a recognized celebration is a more recent development. In 1998, the United States Senate officially recognized April 6 as National Tartan Day through a Senate Resolution. This resolution acknowledged the contributions of Scottish-Americans to American society and culture, as well as the historic ties between Scotland and the United States.

Scots began immigrating to America in significant numbers during the 17th and 18th centuries, with many settling in regions such as the Appalachian Mountains, the Carolinas and the Northeast. These early immigrants brought with them their culture, traditions and customs, which became integral parts of American society. Scottish philosophy played a significant role in inspiring the ideas and principles that culminated in the American Revolution. During the 18th century, Scotland was a hotbed of intellectual activity, known for its Enlightenment thinkers who challenged traditional authority and promoted ideals of liberty, democracy and individual rights. Scottish philosophers contributed to the development of a sense of national identity and solidarity among American colonists. They emphasized the importance of shared values, common interests and collective action in the pursuit of liberty and self-government. Scottish intellectuals helped to articulate a vision of America as a distinct and independent nation, separate from the British Empire, with its own traditions, customs and aspirations.

Scottish immigrants have also contributed to the advancement of various academic disciplines in America. Scottish scholars and intellectuals, particularly those associated with the Scottish Enlightenment, brought with them a tradition of intellectual inquiry and critical thinking that influenced American academic life. Figures such as David Hume, Adam Smith and Thomas Reid made significant contributions to fields such as philosophy, economics and moral theory, shaping the intellectual landscape of American higher education. These figures played a key role in promoting the value of liberal arts education in America. Drawing on the Scottish tradition of the Enlightenment, which emphasized the importance of critical thinking, moral philosophy and the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, Scottish educators advocated for a broad-based education that cultivated intellectual curiosity and engaged students in the pursuit of truth. Overall, the impact of Scottish immigrants on America is profound and multifaceted. They shaped the nation’s history, economy, politics and educational culture in significant ways. Their legacy continues to be celebrated and remembered, reflecting the enduring influence of Scottish heritage on the American experience.

Scottish Heritage Influence in Chicago: The University of Chicago

The University of Chicago, one of the leading research universities in the world, has been influenced by Scottish culture and individuals since its founding in 1890. The University of Chicago was founded with a generous donation from John D. Rockefeller, a prominent American industrialist of Scottish descent. Rockefeller envisioned the university as a center for rigorous intellectual inquiry and academic excellence. His commitment to education and philanthropy reflected the values of the Scottish Enlightenment, which emphasized the importance of knowledge, reason and social progress.

The founders of the University of Chicago drew inspiration from the educational models of Scottish universities, particularly the University of Edinburgh. They admired the Scottish emphasis on liberal arts education, critical thinking and interdisciplinary scholarship. The University of Chicago adopted a similar approach to education, offering a broad-based curriculum that encouraged students to explore diverse fields of study and engage in intellectual inquiry. Rockefeller believed in the importance of intellectual freedom and academic autonomy. He advocated for the University of Chicago to maintain independence from religious and political influences, allowing scholars and students to pursue truth and knowledge without interference. This commitment to intellectual freedom has been a hallmark of the university’s culture and values.

The University of Chicago boasts faculty members who specialize in Scottish political thought and philosophy. These scholars contribute to the university’s academic programs by teaching courses, conducting research and publishing scholarly work on topics related to Scottish political theory. The university hosts many public lectures, conferences and events that feature discussions of Scottish political thought and its implications for contemporary politics and society. These events bring together scholars, students and members of the public to explore the ideas and debates surrounding Scottish political philosophy, fostering dialogue and intellectual engagement. The university’s commitment to academic excellence, intellectual freedom and interdisciplinary research reflects the values of Scottish Heritage and the enduring legacy of Scottish immigrants and their descendants.

Scottish Pride in Chicago
Lady Gregory’s
Lady Gregory’s, situated at 5260 N. Clark St. near W. Berwyn in Andersonville, stands out as a beloved pub with a distinguished flair. Rather than conforming to typical Irish pub stereotypes, it exudes the ambiance of a literary supper club. Boasting an extensive menu, it offers over 300 whiskeys alongside a diverse selection of draft and bottled beers.
Balmoral Restaurant
Venture beyond Chicago proper to discover Balmoral Restaurant, nestled in the far western suburbs at 40W099 Illinois Route 64 in Campton Hills. Despite its relatively recent opening, this establishment consistently earns high praise in local “Best of…” readers’ surveys. While their menu may be succinct, every dish is a winner, from the flavorful Highlander’s Cock-a-Leekie Soup to succulent Scottish salmon, culminating in delectable desserts such as the Raspberry Cream Cranachan.

Scotland Shop’s Illinois Tartan page
For those eager to showcase their Scottish-Chicago pride, look no further than the Scotland Shop’s Illinois Tartan page. This eye-catching tartan, inspired by the hues of the Chicago flag, was specially crafted for the Illinois St. Andrew Society and later adopted as the official tartan of the State of Illinois. Keep an eye out for the Scottish Shop’s occasional pop-up events in Chicago, including appearances at the Scottish Festival and Highland Games.