America's Founding Secret
What the Scottish Enlightenment Taught Our Founding Fathers
by Robert W. Galvin

Review by Jon Roland

This charming little collection of essays provides a gentle introduction to the works of several Scots whose great influence on the development of the political culture of early America is often undeservedly neglected. It traces the emergence of the 18th century Scottish Enlightenment, mainly centered on the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and shows how the works and members of that movement traveled to the American colonies and instructed the founding generation of the new republic. Many of its ideas and words became incorporated into the Declaration of Independence and the constitutions of the states and the United States.

However, unless these essays were published as an introduction to a collection of the works it discusses, it could use a bibliography. Here is a partial one for some of the more important works of some of the more important thinkers discussed. It includes several works I hope to eventually add to our online collection.

  • Hector Boece (Boethius) (1465?-1536)
    • Chronicles of Scotland (Scotorum historiae) (Latin 1540)
  • John Major (Mair) (1469-1550)
    • A history of Greater Britain as well England as Scotland (Historia Maioris Britanniae, tam Anglie q[uam] Scotie) (1521)
  • George Buchanan (1506-1582)
    • The art and science of government among the Scots (De jure regni apud Scotos dialogus) (1579)
    • Tyranicall government anatomized, or, A discourse concerning evil-councellors being the life and death of John the Baptist (pub. 1642)
    • The history of Scotland (Rerum Scoticarum historia) (1583 Latin, Eng. tr. pub. 1690)
    • The trial of George Buchanan before the Lisbon Inquisition ...
  • Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746)
    • Inquiry into the original of our ideas of beauty and virtue (1725)
    • Inquiry concerning beauty, order, harmony, design (1725)
    • An essay on the nature and conduct of the passions and affections; with illustrations on the moral sense (1742)
    • A short introduction to moral philosophy, in three books; containing the elements of ethicks and the law of nature (1747)
    • A system of moral philosophy (1755)
    • A representation of the injustice and dangerous tendency of tolerating slavery, or admitting the least claim of private ... (1769)
  • Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696-1782)
    • Dictionary of decisions (1741)
    • Essays on the principles of morality and natural religion (1758)
    • Historical law tracts (1761)
    • Introduction to the art of thinking (1761)
    • Elements of criticism (1762)
    • A Letter from a blacksmith, to the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland (1764)
    • Principles of equity (1767)
    • Sketches on the history of man (1774)
    • Elucidations respecting the common and statute law of Scotland (1777)
    • Remarkable decisions of the Court of Session (1780)
  • Thomas Reid (1710-1796)
    • An inquiry into the human mind, on the principles of common sense (1769)
    • Lectures on natural theology (1780)
    • Essays on the active powers of man (1788)
    • Essays on the active powers of the human mind (1793)
    • Essays on the intellectual powers of man (1793)
    • On the danger of political innovation (1796)
    • Practical ethics: being lectures and papers on natural religion, self-government, natural jurisprudence, and the law of nations
  • William Cullen (1710-1790)
    • Physiology (1779)
    • A treatise of the materia medica (1789)
    • First lines of the practice of physic (1792)
    • A synopsis of methodical nosology, in which the genera of disorders are particularly defined ...(1793)
  • David Hume (1711-1776)
    • Selected Essays of David Hume (1754)
    • A treatise of human nature: being an attempt to introduce the experimental method of reasoning into moral subjects (1740)
    • Essays, moral and political (1742)
    • An enquiry concerning the principles of morals (1751)
    • Political discourses (1752)
    • A dissertation on the numbers of mankind in antient and modern times: in which the superior populousness of antiquity is maintained ... (1753)
    • A dissertation on the passions (1758)
    • Enquiry concerning human understanding (1758)
    • The natural history of religion (1758)
    • The history of England (1754-1762)
    • Dialogues concerning natural religion (pub. 1779)
  • Hugh Blair (1718-1800)
    • Essays on rhetoric (1789)
    • Sermons (1797)
    • Lectures on rhetoric and belles lettres (1803)
  • William Robertson (1721-1793)
    • The history of Scotland, during the reigns of Queen Mary, and King James VI, till his accession to the crown of England (1761)
    • The history of the reign of the emperor Charles the Fifth (1771)
    • The progress of society in Europe; a historical outline from the subversion of the Roman Empire to the beginning of the sixteenth century (1771)
    • The history of the discovery and settlement of America (1777)
  • Adam Smith (1723-1790)
    • An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations (1776)
    • A dissertation on the origin of languages
    • The theory of moral sentiments ...
    • Essay on colonies
    • Essays on philosophical subjects (1795)
  • Adam Ferguson (1723-1816)
    • Reflections previous to the establishment of a militia (1756)
    • The morality of stage-plays seriously considered (1757)
    • An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767)
    • Institutes of moral philosophy. For the use of students in the College of Edinburgh (1769)
    • Principles of Moral and political science (1792)
    • The history of the progress and termination of the Roman republic (1811)
  • Joseph Black (1728-1799)
    • Essays on philosophical subjects (1795)
    • Lectures on the elements of chemistry (1803)
  • James Watt (1736-1819)
    • A system of mechanical philosophy (1822)
    • Discovery of the composition of water
    • The origin and progress of the mechanical inventions of James Watt (1854)
  • Dugald Stewart (1753-1828)
    • Elements of the philosophy of the human mind (1792)
    • Outlines of moral philosophy, for the use of students in the University of Edinburgh (1793)
    • The theory of moral sentiments; to which is added, a dissertation on the origin of languages
    • Account of the life and writings of Adam Smith (1795)
    • Account of the life and writings of Thomas Reid (1803)
    • Philosophical essays (1810)
    • Account of the life and writings of William Robertson (1811)

Not mentioned in the Galvin essays, but deserving of inclusion, are:

Galvin does make one error, however. The name of Henry Home is misspelled "Howe" in the book.