The Scottish Government and the French Threat, 1792-1802
Wold, Atle L.
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Over the period 1792 to 1802 the British state faced the unprecedented situation of fighting a war against France, while simultaneously being challenged on the home front by an upsurge of political radicalism and demands for extensive alterations in the British political system. In the early part of the period, it was the threat posed by domestic radicalism and radical agitation which posed the greatest challenge to the government, but gradually, as radicalism was defeated and the threat of invasion from France increased, the war effort became the main priority and cause of concern for the authorities. This thesis examines Scotland’s contribution to the British state‘s war against Revolutionary France and its struggles against the domestic challenges of the 1790s, with a view to establish how the government of Scotland met and handled the specific challenges it faced over the course of the decade, and the extent to which the Scots rallied to the defence of British state at this time of crisis. Chapter one sets out the main challenges facing the authorities in Scotland in this period, while chapter two addresses the government‘s overall response and policies. Emphasis has been placed on the relationship between the central government in London and local government officials in Scotland, and the degree of interaction which took place between the two. Chapter three provides more detail on the political trials which followed the government’s decision to bring some of the leading radicals before the law courts on a charge of sedition, while chapters four and five address the two crucial aspects of the Scottish contribution to the war effort - the recruitment of men for service in the armed forces, and the financing of military operations. It is argued here that, while Scotland provided more than a proportionate share of men for armed service, the Scottish financial contribution was less than proportionate. The last two chapters examine the support the government received from the Scottish public. Chapter six looks at the various ways in which the Scots demonstrated loyalty to the British state at a time of war, and chapter seven discusses the arguments presented by loyalist writers in Scotland. Sections on naval protection for Scotland, barracks-building and the Scottish whisky-industry were omitted from the final version of the thesis to reduce its length, as were some details on the manager system and Henry Dundas, on the law of sedition in Scotland, and on the causes of the militia riots in 1797.