The History of Scotland vs. the “History” of the United States.

Every civilization has its history. Some span back across centuries, others millennia. This such as the instance for the US and Scotland. Both have their own history with differences and similarities and each has an effect on the current status of the country as well as a guideline for prediction of the future. However, there is a difference between the history of Scotland and the “history” of the US.


The difference between History and “History”

In the US we have “history”. Which I will argue is much different than the history of nearly every other country in existence. When looking at the history associated with the United States as a country we only date back to about the 1400s-1600s (depending on your own interpretation), that is only about 600 years of history. Scotland, on the other hand, has been inhabited by peoples for thousands of years, long before the people who settled the first colonies in America even began to record their history. Where the US has buildings made in the 1700s, the people of Scotland have sites that date back to 3500 BC and earlier. This is not to say you cannot find ancient ruins in North America, simply none that belong to the country of the US rather you will find the remains of people groups that we displaced upon our arrival on the continent. This is the difference between a relatively new country and a country with thousands of years of history behind its people.

The Tartan and Culturally Significant Creations

A significant part of Scottish History is the Tartan. If you aren’t aware of a Tartan, the Tartan is the pattern you find on traditional Scottish dress such as kilts (but it is not exclusive to kilts). Each Tartan has a distinct design that is associated with traditionally a family, and in more modern times companies, events, groups, sports teams, or other special occasions. Tartan’s can be found all over the world but the Tartan was originated and grown from Scotland. Even the official Tartan for the Royal family of England is produced and tailored into dress in Scotland by the company Kinloch Anderson. Today the Tartan can still be seen as a staple of Scottish dress and fashion, being fashioned in scarfs, bags, and other accessories (as well as main articles of clothes). In the US our fashion is based on globalization, we take and are influenced by other countries and cultures around the world without a single staple to call our own.


Old Buildings!

No doubt there are a lot of old buildings in Scotland. During our time in Edinburgh there was nary an avenue you could jaunt down without seeing construction dating back through the years, some as far back as the 12th century. In the states, the oldest building you may find in your local town will go back to the 1920’s if you’re lucky. This difference can be attributed to two prominent facets of America. First our young age as a country, in the three-hundred some years that we have officially been the US of A we have been mainly growing, meaning that back in the 1700’s we were so spread thin we weren’t able to erect as many long-standing buildings as other civilizations may have been able to. The second important note is that the American way is to throw out the old and replace it with the new. In our MSU hometown of East Lansing, many of the early 20th century buildings along the Grand River strip were recently torn down to make way for a shiny new high rise building boasting a sleek modern look. What was wrong with the original buildings? Well, nothing aside from the fact they were holding up prime real estate that some investor wanted to get their hands on. This is a large reason that there are so few historical sites and buildings in the US, we are constantly ready to bull-doze and replace when something gets a little old where in Scotland and much of Europe they embrace the history of the standing structure and work around it to fit their changing needs.


Tradition is a large component of the culture of any country or people. It can often dictate and affect the stance of current politics and trends for the future. Tradition varies from one civilization to the next, some based on religion, some based on their history. As we have reached current time and continue to progress you will see what is considered “traditional” to become an object of history and one of the best examples of this is in the US. Being such a new and young country has allowed us to easier put aside tradition for progress (for better or worse). In other countries (i.e. Scotland, the UK, and much of Europe) their longstanding history has made what is Tradition easier to shake. A prime example is a recent vote in Ireland to overturn the stance on abortion to a more progressive way, the old stance was held onto much because of the tradition and history of the country. In some cases, the stray away from tradition yields positive outcomes, but in others, it has not, there are large parts of US history where a new progressive idea has been pushed about and has ended in a negative fashion.


There are not many new countries in the world that have such a short history as that of the US. This short history gives both advantages and disadvantages but does not make the country lesser nor does it make a country with a long history greater. Simply it is the way in which the country acts on its history that defines its greatness. In the US we are always ready to throw away anything. An old building? Bull-doze that thing. This model of constantly replacing anything we can has some benefits but also has the downfall of erasing our own very short history, and without history, we will always be a new country.


The History of Scotland vs. the “History” of the United States. – By: Jacob McDowell

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