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PANAMA: THE SCOTTISH ‘DARIEN SCHEME’: A DRAFT OF THE GOLDEN & ADJACENT ISLANDS, WITH PART OF YE ISTHMUS OF DARIEN AS IT WAS TAKEN BY CAPT. JENEFER. WHERE YE SCOTS WEST-INDIA COMPANY WERE SETTELED [WITH:] A NEW MAP OF YE ISTHMUS OF DARIEN IN AMERICA, THE B.
- Prior to 1707, Scotland was a separate nation from England, even though the two kingdoms were ruled by the same monarch. While England had a burgeoning global empire, Scotland had no colonies and was eager to enter the realm of global imperialism and trade. From 1698 to 1700 she endeavored to set up her own colony of ‘New Caledonia’ on a remote section of the Caribbean cast of Panama known as the Isthmus of Darien. The present map sheet features two attractive and fascinating maps depicting and contextualizing the so-called ‘Darien Scheme’. The upper map, A Draft of the Golden & Adjacent Islands, focuses closely in on the main Scots base of ‘New Edinburg’ and the adjacent area. The lower map depicts the greater region, extending from Nicaragua, in the northwest, over the Colombia, in the southeast. It shows that, in theory, New Caledonia occupied a strategic location that could potentially become a great entrepôt of trade between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Historical Context During the mid-1690s, Scotland was in an ebullient mood. It’s economy was buzzing and it finances seemed to be on a stable and progressive footing upon the establishment of the Bank of Scotland in 1695. Yet, the Scots were envious of the vast wealth flowing into London from England’s overseas colonial ventures, most notably the West Indies sugar trade and the profits yielded by the English East India Company (EIC). As many Scots had served and thrived in English colonial service, Scotland felt confident that it had both the financial and human resources to find its own place in the sun. In 1695, the Scottish parliament ratified the ‘Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies’ to manage Scotland’s overseas ventures. The Company had credibility as it was led by William Patterson, the founder of the Bank of Scotland, who was universally regarded as a ‘safe pair of hands’. The Company’s prospects sparked almost obsessive euphoria amongst the country’s elite, as merchants and nobleman flocked to buy shares. Within a short time, the Company had soaked up at least 25% of Scotland’s liquid capital! The Scottish Company’s main strike was the ‘Darien Scheme,’ a design to establish New Caledonia at the Isthmus of Darien. This was a daring plan, as it involved setting up a Protestant colony amidst a region that had long been claimed and dominated by Spain. Indeed, while Spain had long developed Central Panama and much of the Caribbean coast of New Granada (Colombia), the Darien had been a blank spot that she had generally avoided. As the Scots would soon find out, this was for good reason. In 1698, the Scottish company established New Edinburgh at this site noted on the map, and over the next year 3,000 colonists arrived. Almost immediately the dream became as a nightmare. The Darien was a hellish place full of mosquitos, malaria, yellow fever, torrential rain, and unwelcoming natives. In 1699, the Spaniards attacked and sacked the colony. The Scots abandoned the endeavour in 1700, with only 10% of the colonists surviving to make it home. The spectacular failure of New Caledonia was not only a national humiliation, but a financial catastrophe that plunged Scotland into a deep recession. Many prominent investors were brought to bankruptcy and Scotland’s heavily-leveraged government was unable to pay its debts. England opportunistically offered to pay off Scotland’s debt and to stabilize its economy in return for Scotland agreeing to give up it independence. Scotland accepted the deal and the Act of Union was signed in 1707, forming the United Kingdom. From that day onwards, Scots would play a disproportionately large role in overseas colonial ventures, however, it would be under the Union Jack, as opposed to the Solitaire. The present map is the second edition of the map, having been published by John Senex within his New General Atlas (London, 1721). The first edition was issued in 1699 by William Hacke and Robert Morden and is identical to the present
      [Bookseller: Antiquariat Dasa Pahor]
Last Found On: 2015-12-20           Check availability:      IberLibro    

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