Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Declaration of Arbroath & The American Declaration of Independence

Several people have pointed out the parallels between the Declaration of Arbroath (1320) and the American Declaration of Independence (1776). Similarities are perhaps not surprising since of the governors from the thirteen signatory states, nine including Thomas Jefferson, were of Scots descent. The documents are from very different times, written in very different ways, but both enhance the power and rights of the people. Arbroath, written at the abbey of the same name (below), airs for the first time the radical idea that a king is only king for as long as he protects the freedoms of his people.

Fans of the Diana Gabaldon novels will remember that in Chapter 112 of 'A Breath of Snow and Ashes', her hero Jamie finds that he is spurred on to join the revolutionaries by his own stirring rendering of the well known lines from Arbroath, '... for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule.'

Aye, and there's a good few that still get carried away with their anti-English rhetoric! Just the other day our First Minister, Alex Salmond, was telling his Scottish National Party conference that, 'we can make Westminster (UK Parliament) dance to a Scottish jig'. But the English are not particularly good dancers, let alone to Scottish music. Soon, I believe, it may be the English people who will be drawing up a Declaration of Independence. And this would be just as biased in favour of the larger nation as was the 1707 Act of Union!

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