More than 18% of the population of the United States today is believed to be of Scottish or Scots-Irish descent. These are descendants of the tens of thousands of Scots and Scots-Irish who immigrated to the US. Some arrived as early as colonial times but the vast majority arrived here in the late 1700's following the Highland Clearances, and again in a new wave of immigration in the late 1800's. Many volumes have been written about the contributions of the Scots to the founding of the USA. Scottish influences are found in virtually ever walk of American life, from our Declaration of Independence, said to be inspired by the Scots' Declaration of Arbroath, to music, our military, even our form of government.
One need only look to the birth of our nation to find Scots playing pivotal roles and writing the earliest pages of our history books, men like John Paul Jones, Father of the American Navy. Indeed the positive influence of Scots can be throughout America, from the big cities, to the small backwaters. Mickey Mouse, that most iconic of American cartoon characters was voiced for 40 years by a Scot, Jimmy MacDonald of Dundonian. John McGregor was a Scotsman, and a piper, who died defending the Alamo. Glaswegian Alan Pinkerton founded his world famous detective agency in Chicago. Elvis Presley's roots can be traced to Aberdeenshire. The original ‘Uncle Sam’ is said to be Sam Wilson, a food business operator in New York, whose parents came from Greenock in Scotland. Neil Armstrong and "Buzz Aldrin", first men to walk on the Moon, were of Scottish ancestry. Three fourths of the men who have served as President have been of either Scots or Ulster-Scots descent, and the list goes on.
But as is the case with any large group of people, there were a few "bad apples" in the bunch. In his new book, "Between Daylight and Hell," Scottish author Iain Lundy has chosen to spotlight sixteen Scots (and a further seven "dishonorable mentions") who, far from being heroes, proved instead to be rogues, reprobates, conmen, charlatans, cowards, and killers.
Men like James Duff who, in the name of loyalty to the Confederacy, murdered (or ordered their deaths) a group of German immigrants fleeing the Texas Hill country. There was David Jack, a serial land grabber who fleeced people of their homes and property in the wake of the Mexican-American War. Major General Adam Stephen distinguished himself in the Revolutionary War by attacking his own men while drunk in battle. And there was Operatic superstar Mary Garden who turned more than a cold shoulder to her American benefactors once she saw her name up in lights.
"Between Daylight and Hell" is a look into the dark side of a handful of Scots who came to America seeking a better life, and along the way decided to lie, cheat, steal, and yes sometimes kill their way into the history books.
"Between Daylight and Hell" by Iain Lundy is 240 pages, softback, and includes 50 illustrations including portraits. Retail price in the USA is $23.95 but will vary depending on the supplier. It is also available direct from the publisher in the UK for £18.99.