Presidents’ Day: How Scotland joined the US in formally remembering President Abraham Lincoln for the first time – Angus Robertson MSP

Scotland and the United States have been bound together throughout history, from the many Scots signatories of the Declaration of Independence to the tens of millions of Americans who today are of Scottish descent.

President Abraham Lincoln led the United States during the Civil War (Picture: Alexander Gardner/US Library of Congress via Getty Images)
President Abraham Lincoln led the United States during the Civil War (Picture: Alexander Gardner/US Library of Congress via Getty Images)

For the first time, Scotland has marked Presidents’ Day by joining the USA in formally remembering President Abraham Lincoln with an official wreath-laying ceremony at an Edinburgh memorial that includes his statue.

The 16th President, who led the United States during the US Civil War, stands atop a war memorial for Scottish soldiers at the Old Calton Cemetery.

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It is the first statue of any American president in Europe and still the sole statue of a US president in Scotland. It is also believed to be the only memorial to the Civil War outside the USA.

Big thanks need to be extended to President of the White House Historical Association, Stewart McLaurin, who travelled to Edinburgh over the Christmas holidays and visited the monument, which was first inaugurated in 1893.

It is Stewart who proposed a new annual tradition of marking Presidents’ Day, Lincoln’s life and the historic relationship between Scotland and the United States.

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I was honoured to speak at the inaugural event and lay a wreath on behalf of the Scottish government together with US Consul General Jack Hillmeyer and the US-born City of Edinburgh Council’s culture and communities vice-convener, Councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan.

Next year Stewart McLaurin, who is himself of Scottish descent, will hopefully take part in what will become an annual event.

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Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary

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