This Month in History

Every month the American Scottish Foundation spotlights a person or event that illustrates the shared and enduring history, culture, and kinship between the America and Scotland.

JULY SPOTLIGHT ON JANE RANDOLPH JEFFERSON

Jane Randolph Jefferson

This  July The American-Scottish Foundation® spotlights  Jane Randolph Jefferson, who was born in the United Kingdom, to English and Scottish parents in 1720. Villanova University‘s Catherine Kerrison, in her book, Jefferson’s Daughters, which this year’s Daughters of the American Revolution National Headquarters Continental Congress spotlighted, wrote that Jane was proud of her Scottish heritage. Jane was a member of the Randolph Clan–the Randolphs had long been squires in England and Scotland.

As the Jefferson family’s “genealogist,” she was not only considered to be among the first families of the Virginia Colony, she thought the telling of family history important enough for her son Thomas Jefferson to once state that his maternal side could “trace their pedigree far back to England and Scotland…”.

University of Edinburgh

Not surprisingly, Jane’s first cousin twice removed, Thomas Mann Randolph Jr., studied at the The University of Edinburgh in 1785 before marrying Thomas Jefferson’s daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph in 1790.

It undeniable that Jane’s background coupled with Scottish Enlightenment thinkers that he encountered in his studies at the College of William & Mary allowed him exposure to the ideas expressed in the The Declaration of Arbroath 700th Anniversary Celebration—itself celebrating its 700th anniversary this year, which in turn is among the inspirations of his words in the The Declaration of Independence celebrating its 244th anniversary today

college at William & Mary

—John King Bellassi, President of the Council of Scottish Clans & Associations (COSCA) and Vice President of the National Capital Tartan Day Committee writes about this here https://www.clanchiefs.org.uk/two-declarations-common-purp…/

The University of Virginia holds a nice collection of Randolph-Jefferson correspondence at https://ead.lib.virginia.edu/vivaxtf/view…

Nice synopsis of Jefferson’s ancestry at https://www.monticello.org/…/research-a…/jeffersons-ancestry

Authors Alexander Leslie Klieforth and Robert John Munro state in their book, Scottish Invention of America, Democracy and Human Rights 1st Edition, on page 243, that Thomas Jefferson was first introduced to the Declaration of Arbroath by his College of William and Mary professor of rhetoric William Small. See https://www.amazon.com/Scottish-Invention-Amer…/…/0761827919

JUNE SPOTLIGHT ON JAMES GORDON BENNETT

James Gordon Bennett

On June 1, 1872, James Gordon Bennett, the founder, publisher and editor of the New York Herald, dies. Bennett built one of the biggest publishing empires in United States history, his paper becoming the highest circulated in America in 1866.

Bennett was born in Banffshire, Scotland, and at an early age traveled throughout Scotland.

In 1819, he joined a friend who was sailing to North America, landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, where Bennett briefly worked as a schoolmaster. to then sail south to Portland, Maine to teach there and in Boston, Massachusetts by 1820.

New York Herald Building, NYC 1895

He worked in New England as a proofreader and bookseller before moving to the Charleston Courier in Charleston,South Carolina. He moved to New York City in 1823, where he worked first as a freelance paper writer and, then, assistant editor of the New York Courier and Enquirer, one of the oldest newspapers in the City.

New York Herald June 20, 1861

By May 1835, Bennett began the New York Herald, and with it he transformed American journalism. Historian Robert C. Bannister considered Bennett a talented yet controversial editor who expanded traditional coverage by adding sports reports, a society page, advice columns, and election news while pioneering and coupling tabloid journalism with use of the new technologies of telegraph, pony express, and offshore ships to bring fast news coverage to reach the exploding market–and voters–of working men and women.

Victoria Mary Sharp, ASF Editorial and Marketing