Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy Act of Union Day


On 1 May 1707 the Act of Union between Scotland and England became fully operational. I thought since dis-union has been in the news much of late, it would be appropriate to link to several sources that discuss the origins of the Union. I am not an expert by any means, but it appears despite all the shenanigans that took place Scotland's constitutional position was untenable by the early eighteenth-century. The main argument was not whether or not there would be a Union with England, but whether in would be a federal union or an incorporating union. The former was preferred by many, but they got the latter.

To read up on the Union you can try the brief Acts of Union: The Creation of the United Kingdom by Allan I. Macinnes at BBC History.  If you have more time or are exceptionally keen there are three recent books on the subject: Scottish Public Opinion and the Anglo-Scottish Union, 1699-1707 by Karin Bowie, The Scots and the Union by Christopher Whatley and The Scottish Presbyterians and the Act of Union 1707 by Jeffrey Stephen. Tom Devine edited a volume on the past, present and future of the Union, Scotland and the Union 1707-2007, which includes contributions by Karin Bowie, Chris Whatley, Richard Findlay, Alex Murdoch, and Allan Macinnes. The books by Bowie, Whatley and Devine are now available in modestly priced paperbacks. Well, modest for an academic book. Look for the Stephen book at the library.

If you don't want to read anything, you can listen to a series of lectures on various aspects of the Union given at the University of Edinburgh in 2007. Debating the Union of 1707, on the historical aspects, features Karin Bowie, Chris Whatley, Richard Findlay, Alex Murdoch, and Christopher Smout. They are available to download through iTunes here.

nb. I must confess to only being partially keen: I have only read Dr. Bowie's book and listened to Debating the Union of 1707. 

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