From Rosa Parks and the KKK to Trump and Obama (How descendents of Scots have shaped America)

Since being elected as the 51st President of The United States of America, we have been hearing a lot about Donald's Trump links to Scotland through his mother, but you may also be surprised to hear about just how many influential people in the history of the states since it's foundation that have tartan in their blood.

Young activist: Rosa Parks

Even in the multi-national melting pot that is the USA it's hard to think of any other nation who's descendants have had such a big impact on the political landscape of the global superpower.

And no matter your political leanings you will find people to be proud of and people you are ashamed of giving we have offered up such differing personalities as civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks: whose great grandfather James Percival was born in Scotland 1832 and met Rosa's grandmother when he was imported to Alabama as an indentured servant and she was a slave on the same estate, to the KKK: whose 6 founding members included four Scots and two Ulstermen.

HATRED: The Klan has roots in Aberdeen

Rosa Parks was a key figure in the American Civil Rights movement after her act of defiance in refusing to give up her seat in the coloured section of a bus when the white section was full made her an icon. It sparked the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and played a huge part in the movement for equal rights and changing segregation laws.

But her great-grandfather was a Scotsman born in Glasgow to poor Irish parents. James Percival was living on the streets from a young age and turned to a life of crime that seen him jailed for theft and sold of to an American plantation to work as an indentured servant for 7 years.

ICON: Roza Parks

And it was when he was working on the Wright estate in Montgomery Alabama where he met African-American Mary Jane Nobels who was a slave on the estate and then worked as the families midwife. The couple would go on to marry and have 9 children and living freely in Alabama.

Parks often talked about how proud she was of her Scots-Irish roots and also of her Native American roots from the other side that along with her African side is what made her such a fierce warrior.

But if Parks is an inspiration then the founders of the KKK are from the other end of the scale altogether.

It was 1865 and the  American Civil War had just ended when 6 young confederate soldiers returning home the deep south, fearful of the new human rights being allowed to blacks, decided to form an organisation that would offer defiance to the new rules.

Members of the Fraternal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan participate in the 11th Annual Nathan Bedford Forrest Birthday march July 11, 2009 in Pulaski, Tennessee.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Two of the men had come from Buchan in Aberdeenshire and told the other men with fondness about an ancient tradition of secret societies in Buchan that were shrouded in mystery, pagan ritual and devil worship and were all the members would wear outlandish outfits and cover their faces with long hoods.

Some reports suggest the potential for impressing potential partners played as big a part as racism in getting the idea of the ground.

The Scottish boys told the rest of the guys how much local girls loved the ceremonies and mystery of it all and convinced them they would be heroes and irresistible to females.

And just like that one of the most hated and bigoted groups in the history of the world, responsible for thousands of lynchings, murders and torture of black folks in the states, were first formed.

Even in their earliest forms they quickly decided it wasn't just going to be blacks on their hit-list as they gradually also decided to target Jews, Catholics, Native Americans and Asians to mixed degrees.

And the link between Aberdeen and the KKK doesn't end there as their very first national leader was General John Gordon. Gordon was the son of an Aberdonian immigrant who had risen through the ranks of volunteer soldier in Alabama to a major general and one of the most celebrated commanders in the confederate army.

Not long after the Civil War, when the KKK were growing rapidly throughout the south as opposition against black rights just got louder and more violent, John Gordon was appointed Grand Dragon in Georgia of the Klan’s "Invisible Empire".

Even in modern American politics it is clear to see the massive impact such a small portion of the population has had on the history and future of the nation.

45th President Trump

Current President Donald Trump's mother Mary Anne MaCleod immigrated to America from the village of Tong in the Isle of Lewis. Ironically the fiercely patriotic Brit who adored the Royal Family was an illegal immigrant when she arrived and would struggle to last under her son's regime.

Like mother like son: Mary Trump with a familiar hairstyle

Trump has never forgotten his Scottish bloodline making regular trips across the Atlantic to visit his mother homeland. He has opened a golf course and hotel resort in Scotland and even showed an interest in buying Rangers football club in 2012.

But what will probably be more surprising is that his predecessor Barack Obama also has ancestors hailing from this side of the pond. His grandparents Stanley and Madelyn Dunham could both trace their ancestry back to Scots-Irish settlers.

Young Barack Obama with his grandparents Stanley and Madelyn Dunham

Obama and Trump are only the latest in a VERY long list of American leaders of Scottish descent.

  • James Monroe (The 5th President of The United States and great grandson of Andrew Monroe from Ross-Shire)
  • James Knox Polk (The 11th President and Great Grandson of Robert Pollok from Edinburgh)
  • James Buchanan (the 15th President and grandson of Katherine Blair from Stirlingshire)
  • Rutherford Hayes (The 19th President and Ancestor of John Hayes who travelled from Scotland to Conneticut in 1680)
  • Chester A Arthur (The 21st President and great grandson of Jane Campbell from Glasgow)
  • Benjamin Harrison (The 23rd President and Great-Great grandson of David Irvine from Aberdeenshire)
  • William McKinley (The 24th President and great-great-great grandson of James McKinley from Fife)
  • Theodore Rossevelt (The 26th President and Great Grandson of Jean Stobo from Ross-shire)
  • Woodrow Wilson (28th President and grandson of Rev. Dr Thomas Woodrow and Marion Williamson from Paisley. Throughout his career he reflected on the influence of his ancestral values on his constant quest for knowledge and his Scottish conscience)
  • Warren G Harding: (29th President: His paternal great-great grandmother, Lydia Crawford, was born in Midlothian)
  • Harry S Truman: (33rd President: His paternal great-great-great-great-grandfather, Thomas Monteith, was a merchant from Glasgow)
  • Gerald Ford: (38th President and great-grandson of Alexander Gardner from Kilmalcolm.)
  • Jimmy Carter: (39th President whose great x 6 grandfather, Adam Clinkskaill, was Scottish.)
  • Ronald Reagan: (40th President: His great-grandfather, John Wilson, emigrated to North America from Paisley in 1832)
  • George H W Bush: (41st President and great grandson of Katherine Walker (nee McLelland) from Scotland)
  • George W Bush: ( 43rd President and great great grandson of Katherine Walker (nee Mclelland) from Scotland)

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