1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
-Ian McKay
THE DARIEN VENTURE
"These doors of the seas and the keys of the universe would of course
be capable of enabling their possessors to give laws to both oceans, and to become the arbitrators of the commercial world."
-William Patterson, 170123

The Darien Venture was an attempt by Scotland to form a colony at the Isthmus of Panama. William Patterson, the founder of the Bank of England, was a successful Scotsman who dreamed of making Scotland economically wealthy and self-sufficient through this trading post.24 His expectation was that it would act as the center of east-west trade, as ships would enter on the Pacific side, and their goods would be unloaded and taken to the Atlantic side, where they would be loaded on new ships to take to Europe.25 It would drastically cut down on the time it took to ship goods from the east to the west and thus revolutionize world trade, making a huge profit for the people who ran it. He, and many other Scotsman, dreamed this would bring Scotland from poverty to the "arbiters of the commercial world" in one step.26


From the start this scheme was entirely run by the Scottish. Almost all the investment came from Scotland and the company that ran it, "The Company of Scotland for Trading to Africa and the Indies," was set up by the Scottish Parliament in 1695. There was great momentum behind the idea in Scotland, as people from all economic ranks and from all corners of the nation were said to be extremely excited and fascinated by the idea.27 In fact, Darien became so entrenched within the spirit of the Scottish nation that one observer reported that, "the whole nation is so universally in favor of this Indian and African Trade that it has become

23. William Patterson,"A Proposal to Plant a Colony in Darien," letter to His Majesty, first published in 1701. The Writings of William Patterson Founder of the Bank of England. ed. Saxe Bannister, Vol. 1, (New York: Augustus M. Kelley Publishers, 1968), 159.
24. Hanley, History of Scotland, 75.
25. Ibid.
26. Patterson, "A Proposal to Plant a Colony in Darien," 1701.
27. William Ferguson,The Identity of the Scottish Nation, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998), 176.