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-Ian McKay

the Minstrel.47 William Wallace was a Scottish hero who led the eventually successful resistance to an attempted English annexation of Scotland in the 13th century. An angry Scottish pamphlet denouncing England's involvement in Darien actually began with the following quote attributed to Wallace: "For my part I shall cheerfully Sacrifice my Life to die a Free-Man in my Native Country, which I have so often defended. Nor will I cease to love it, till I cease to Live."48


This strong patriotism would continue through the first seven years of the 18th century to the Act of Union of 1707. Yet after Darien the Scots were faced with three daunting problems regarding sovereignty, national interest, and economic rivalry.49 Their sovereignty was undermined by excessive English influence upon their king, their national interest was compromised by having a foreign policy constrained from such a king, and they were on the losing end of economic rivalries in mercantilist Europe. To some leading Scots, union with England seemed the answer to all of these problems. Their interests would be aligned with England, with access to England's trading empire as the biggest payoff. Now it was union with England that seemed to be the saving grace for Scotland's economic problems of the time.50


This debate was sparked almost immediately after Darien when England passed the Act of Settlement in 1701.51 It provided for the Hanover Succession of the English throne if the Stuart line died with Anne. What was so incendiary about this act was that the English assumed that Scotland would decide to adopt the same monarch as England and thus maintain the union of the crowns. The Scottish were outraged, seeing this as final proof that England viewed Scotland as little more than an appendage of the English crown under the regal union.52 In response,

47. Harry the Minstrel,The Life and Acts of the Most Famous and Valiant Champion, Sir William Wallace, (Glasgow: Printed by Robert Sachs, 1699).
48. Ridpath, Scotland's Grievances Relating to Darien, 1.
49. David Armitage, "Making the Empire British," Past & Present 155, (1997), 58.
50. Ibid., 54.
51. Willcox and Arnstein, The Age of Aristocracy 1688-1830, 12.
52. Kidd, British Consciousness and Identity, 331