Sons of Arbroath who shaped the USA

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AN ARBROATH institution is hoping to raise three statues to local men who made their mark on the American Dream.

The Arbroath Guildry Incorporated announced their intention in May to erect a statue to David Dunbar Buick, but have since decided to go the whole hog and add two more statues.

The additional statues will be of William Small from Carmyllie and Thomas Moonlight from Arbroath.

It is hoped this recognition of Arbroath’s role in American history will help to put the town firmly on the radar of American tourists.

Dean of Guildry, Ian Lamb, is keen to see the project come to fruition. He said: “I can’t think of anywhere which could justifiably raise three statues of people from the community who were so involved in shaping America.

“In time the aim is to help to put Arbroath firmly on the US tourist trail in Scotland.

“At the moment tourists go to St Andrews, Edinburgh, Loch Lomond and Loch Ness and they think they’ve done Scotland. It would be very nice if now they could include Arbroath as well.

“I look on Arbroath as my adopted home as I’ve been here for 40 years. I have always worked in the Angus area. I am proud to call Arbroath home and I think it has a lot to be proud of.”

David Dunbar Buick was born in Arbroath in 1854 and emigrated with his parents to the US two years later.

After developing an interest in the internal combustion engine he eventually founded the Buick Motor Company in Flint, Michigan, which in turn became a cornerstone of car giant General Motors.

Buick died in 1929, leaving as his legacy the longest surviving car mark in America, and one of the most widely produced in the global market.

In a strange twist of fate, after the decision was made to erect a statue in his honour it was discovered that a similar group in Buick’s adopted home of Flint were doing exactly the same.

Mr Lamb said: “My reaction on finding there was a group in Flint was one of astonishment. A statue at the same time was just unbelievable really.

“David Buick died in 1929 and here we are 83 years later with two statues separately being proposed on either side of the Atlantic.

“Flint asked if we would like to share the statue and obviously that would have a cost saving element for us, but there were a couple of problems.”

The Guildry has already picked a spot for the bronze statue at the corner of Keptie Pond.

The entire project is expected to cost somewhere in the region of £200,000 to 300,000. Mr Lamb added: “We would like to use the same sculptor to do all three statues. We would also like the sculptor to be Scottish and for the statues to be cast in a Scottish foundry.”

Carmyllie-born William Small is credited with having an influence on the formulation of the American Declaration of Independence.

As a professor at William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia, Small mentored a young man named Thomas Jefferson.

Mr Lamb explained: “Small introduced him to a number of big thinkers of the time, like Benjamin Franklin and to cut a long story short, 14 years after graduating in 1762, he was asked to draft the American declaration.

“He used his learning from William Small and that’s the reason there are so many similarities between the Declaration of Arbroath and the American Declaration of Independence.”

Thomas Moonlight also had a major impact on the country. After emigrating and joining the American army he rose through the Union ranks during the Civil War, eventually becoming a Brevet Brigadier General and commanding Fort Laramie during the settlement of the West.

He later became adjutant general to the Governor of Kansas and was tasked by him to clean up Dodge City, which saw him rub shoulders with Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson.

Elected Governor of Wyoming his main contribution to America came in the form of legislation allowing ranchers to erect fencing, which ultimately shaped the pattern of settlement in the West and sowed the seeds from which many towns grew.

Interestingly, Moonlight also pardoned one Henry Longbough, who went on to become the feared bandit the Sundance Kid.