Read SCOTS IN BANKING, FINANCE, INSURANCE AND RAILROADS of Scotland's Mark on America, free online book, by George Fraser Black, on

In the financial and commercial field in this country the Scots have held a foremost place and stand unrivalled for integrity, energy, fidelity, and enterprise. Many jibes are made at the expense of the Canny Scot, but American business men have realized his value. In business and commercial life the success of the average Scot is remarkable and many of the guiding spirits among America’s successful business men are Scots or men of Scottish descent.

James Blair (b 1807), brother of John Inslee Blair, was largely identified with the development of banks and railroads in Pennsylvania. George Smith (1808-99), born in Aberdeenshire, founded the Wisconsin Marine and Fire Insurance Company (1839) and was later a prominent banker in Georgia. Alexander Mitchell (1817-87), financier, railroad builder, and one of the Commissioners of Public Debt of Milwaukee, was born near Ellon, Aberdeenshire. Brown Brothers, bankers in New York, was founded by Alexander Brown (1764-1834) who was born in Ballymena of Ulster Scot parentage. George Bain (1836-91), merchant, banker, and director in many railroads, banks, and insurance companies, was born in Stirling, Scotland Robert Craig Chambers (b 1831), miner, financier, and State Senator of Utah, was of Scottish descent. John Aikman Stewart (b 1822), President of the United States Trust Company and Assistant Treasurer of the United States, was born in New York city, son of a native of Stornoway, Hebrides. Alonzo Barton Hepburn (b 1847), descendant of Patrick Hepburn who came from Scotland in 1736, President of the Chase National Bank, a distinguished New York banker, has written much on financial subjects. Thomas William Lamont (b 1870), whose forefather came from Argyllshire, is a member of the firm of J.P. Morgan & Co., and prominent in international finance. Walter Edwin Frew, President of the Corn Exchange Bank, New York, and President of the New York Clearing House is of Scottish parentage. He was a pioneer of the branch banking system in New York. James Berwick Forgan, born in St. Andrews, in 1852, President of the First National Bank of Chicago, is a pillar of finance. Andrew Glassell (1827-1901), descendant of a Dumfriesshire emigrant of 1756, was a prominent lawyer and banker in Los Angeles. James Alexander Linen (b 1840), President of the First National Bank of Scranton, was of Scottish parentage. George Rutledge Gibson (b 1853), of Scottish descent, has written largely on questions of foreign finance. John Hall McClement (b 1862), railroad and financial expert, is of Scottish parentage. Duncan MacInnes, born at Inveresk, near Edinburgh, has been Chief Accountant of the City of New York for many years, and is one of the best equipped men in municipal finance in America. Robert Graham Dun (1826-1900), mercantile credit expert, was grandson of Rev. James Dun, minister in Glasgow, who emigrated to Virginia, c 1815.

Robert Burns Beath (1839-1914), President of the United Firemens’ Insurance Company of Philadelphia, and author of the “History of the Grand Army of the Republic” (1888), was of Scots parentage. William c Alexander (1806-74), President of the Equitable Life Insurance Company, was second son of Dr. Archibald Alexander of Princeton. His son James Waddell Alexander (1839-1915), was also President of the same Company. John Augustine McCall (1849-1906), President of the New York Life Insurance Company, was of Ulster Scot descent.

Men of Scottish birth or Scottish descent have had a prominent place in the development of the railroads of the United States from their inception to the present day. It was a Scot, Peter Fleming, Surveyor of the upper part of New York city, who laid out the grades for the first railroad in the state. John Inslee (or Insley) Blair (1802-99), founder of the Lackawanna Coal and Iron Company (1846), financier and founder of the Delaware and Lackawanna Railroad, was a descendant of Samuel Blair who came from Scotland in 1720. Blairstown, New Jersey, is named in his honor. He gave half a million dollars to various Presbyterian institutions. Samuel Sloan (1817-1907), President of the Delaware and Lackawanna Railroad (1867-99), was born in Lisburn of Ulster Scot ancestry. John T. Grant (1813-87), railroad builder in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, was of Scottish origin; and so also was Thomas Alexander Scott (1824-81), Vice-President and President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Assistant Secretary of War (1861-62), and President of the Texas Pacific Railroad James McCrea (b 1836), descended from James McCrea, an Ulster Scot who came to America in 1776, was one of the ablest Presidents of the Pennsylvania Railroad John Edgar Thompson, third President, Frank Thompson, sixth Vice-President of the Pennsylvania system, were also of Scottish descent. Alexander Johnson Cassatt, seventh President, was Scottish on his mother’s side. Another prominent Scot connected with the Pennsylvania Railroad was Robert Pitcairn, born at Johnstone, near Paisley, in 1836. Angus Archibald McLeod (b 1847), re-organizer of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad was also a Scot; and George Devereux Mackay (b 1854), banker and railroad builders, was descended from John Mackay who came from Caithness in 1760. John Allan Muir (1852-1904), railroad promoter of California, was of Scottish parentage.