42 Members of Congress Who Were Born in Scotland

Twenty states have been represented in Congress by a Scottish-born U.S. Representative or U.S. Senator, including one Speaker of the House

davidhenderson10.jpgScottish voters went to the polls Thursday to vote on a referendum that will decide whether or not they will be independent from the United Kingdom after a 307-year union.

While all eyes are on Scotland, Smart Politics dug into the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress and unearthed 42 former members who were born in that bonny, faraway land.

The list includes a Speaker of the House, two future cabinet members, and an Alabama congressman who was assassinated after the Civil War.

The most famous name on the list of Scottish-born members of Congress is former Speaker of the House David Henderson.

Henderson, an Iowa Republican, served 10 terms in the lower legislative chamber from 1883 to 1903 – the last two of which as Speaker, succeeding Thomas Brackett Reed of Maine.

Henderson was born in Old Deer, Scotland in 1840 and immigrated to the United States at the age of six.

With 20 years of service, Henderson has the second-longest tenure in the U.S. House of any Scottish-born member behind only Democrat Robert Crosser of Ohio.

Crosser, born in Holytown, Lanarkshire in 1874, served 19 interrupted terms from 1913 to 1919 and 1923 to 1955 as an at-large and then 21st Congressional District U.S. Representative.

Crosser also holds the distinction of being the last Scottish-born individual to serve in either chamber, exiting 59+ years ago in January 1955.

Crosser is one of only two members born in Scotland to serve on Capitol Hill after 1921, the other being five-term Republican U.S. Representative George Gillie of Indiana who represented the Hoosier State’s 4th CD from 1939 to 1949.

Gillie was born in Berwickshire, Scotland in 1880.

Other notable Scottish-born members include two who went on to become cabinet secretaries.

Jeffersonian Republican George Campbell of Tennessee served three terms in the U.S. House (1803-1809) and two interrupted terms in the U.S. Senate (1811-1814, 1815-1818).

Sandwiched in between his two stints in the Senate, Campbell – born in Tongue, Sutherlandshire in 1769 – was James Madison’s Secretary of the Treasury.

Campbell was the fifth Treasury secretary in U.S. history and served in that position for just shy of eight months in 1814.

Pennsylvania Democrat William Wilson served three terms in the U.S. House from 1907 to 1913 before becoming Woodrow Wilson’s Labor secretary – a position he held for two full terms until March 1921.

Wilson, born in Blantyre in 1862, was the first individual to serve as head of the newly created department.

In addition to the aforementioned Campbell, there have been only two other Scottish-born U.S. Senators in American history: Pro-Administration Samuel Johnston of North Carolina (1789-1793) was born in Dundee in 1733 and Democrat James Beck of Kentucky (1877-1890) was born in Dumfriesshire in 1822.

Beck also served four terms in the U.S. House from 1867 to 1875.

One other notable U.S. Representative who was born in Scotland met a tragic end.

Alabama Republican Thomas Haughey (1868-1869) was a freshman from the 6th CD after the state was readmitted to the Union.

Haughey, born in Glasgow in 1826, was shot in the stomach while giving a speech at a courthouse by a stand-in for his political opponent in Courtland, Alabama and died five days later from his wounds.

Overall, New York has voted into office the largest number of Scottish-born members of Congress with 10, although none had particularly long tenures on the Hill.

Republican John Farquhar (born in Ayr in 1832) served three terms in the House from 1885 to 1891 while five others served two terms and four served just one.

Pennsylvania has had the next largest number of Scottish-born members of Congress with four followed by Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, and Ohio with three, and New Jersey and Wisconsin with two.

Twelve states can claim one Scottish-born U.S. Representative or Senator: Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Eight of these 42 congressmen were born in Glasgow with three each born in Dundee and Paisley and two in Edinburgh and Ayrshire.

The birth places of three members from Scotland are unknown.

Members of U.S. Congress Born in Scotland

State
Member
Party
Service
Birth Place
NC
Samuel Johnston
Pro-Administration
1789-1793 (S)
Dundee
VA
Robert Rutherford
Anti-Administration; Jeffersonian Republican
1793-1797
Scotland
TN
George Campbell
Jeffersonian Republican
1803-1809; 1811-1814 (S); 1815-1818 (S)
Tongue, Sutherlandshire
NC
Archibald McBryde
Federalist
1809-1813
Wigtownshire
PA
William Crawford
Jeffersonian Republican
1809-1817
Paisley
NC
James Stewart
Federalist
1818-1819
Scotland
PA
Walter Lowrie
Jeffersonian Republican; Crawford Republican
1819-1825
Edinburgh
NY
Hector Craig
Jackson Republican, Jacksonian
1823-1825; 1829-1830
Paisley
NY
John Brown
Jacksonian
1833-1837
Dundee
NY
John Greig
Whig
1841-1841
Moffat, Dumfriesshire
IN
Robert Owen
Democrat
1843-1847
Glasgow
PA
Ner Middlesworth
Whig
1853-1855
Glasgow
WI
Walter McIndoe
Republican
1863-1867
Dumbartonshire
KY
James Beck
Democrat
1867-1875; 1877-1890 (S)
Dumfriesshire
AL
Thomas Haughey
Republican
1868-1869
Glasgow
WI
Alexander Mitchell
Democrat
1871-1875
Ellon, Aberdeenshire
NY
Clinton MacDougall
Republican
1873-1877
Glasgow
IA
James Wilson
Republican
1873-1877; 1883-1885
Ayrshire
KS
William Phillips
Republican
1873-1879
Paisley
NJ
Thomas Peddie
Republican
1877-1879
Edinburgh
AZ
John Campbell
Democrat
1879-1881
Glasgow
OH
James Richie
Republican
1881-1883
Dunfermline
GA
Hugh Buchanan
Democrat
1881-1885
Argyleshire
NY
John Hardy
Democrat
1881-1885
Scotland
MO
James McLean
Republican
1882-1883
Ayrshire
IA
David Henderson
Republican
1883-1903
Old Deer
NY
John Farquhar
Republican
1885-1891
Ayr
IN
James White
Republican
1887-1889
Stirlingshire
MN
John MacDonald
Republican
1887-1889
Glasgow
IA
Daniel Kerr
Republican
1887-1891
Dalry, Ayrshire
NY
William Laidlaw
Republican
1887-1891
Jedburgh, Roxburghshire
CA
James McLachlan
Republican
1895-1897; 1901-1911
Argyllshire
MI
George Spalding
Republican
1895-1899
Perthshire
OH
David Meekison
Democrat
1897-1901
Dundee
NE
John Kennedy
Republican
1905-1907
Ayrshire
PA
William Wilson
Democrat
1907-1913
Blantyre
NJ
Robert Bremner
Democrat
1913-1914
Keiss, Caithness
OH
Robert Crosser
Democrat
1913-1919; 1923-1955
Holytown, Lanarkshire
NY
William Charles
Republican
1915-1917
Glasgow
NY
John MacCrate
Republican
1919-1920
Dumbarton
NY
John Johnston
Democrat
1919-1921
Glasgow
IN
George Gillie
Republican
1939-1949
Berwickshire

* Note: All dates of service for U.S. House unless followed by an “(S)” for U.S. Senate. Table compiled by Smart Politics with information provided in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

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1 Comment on "42 Members of Congress Who Were Born in Scotland"

  1. I wonder if one could make an equally impressive statistic of Irish candidates. While there was mass emigration due to e.g. the potato famine in the mid-1840s, the Irish often stayed underdogs, one reason being probably that they were Catholic (q.v. John F. Kennedy being the first and to my knowledge only Catholic US president so far).

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