The Union was an immediate success for England but it has provided little long term value to Scotland

It can, without any doubt, be claimed that for England the Union has been a resounding success. Scotland was subdued, the Hanoverian succession was assured, and control over the entre mainland British Isle was attained. Having obtained the success it was seeking, England then generally ignored Scotland and moved on to other matters. For England nothing really changed, on 24th April 1707 the English parliament at Westminster was prorogued and on 23rd October it re-convened with a new name, the parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. The Acts of Union were not deemed important enough for new elections to be held and a small number of new members from Scotland joined the lower and upper houses. The business of government in England was not altered or disrupted, it was business as usual.

For Scotland, and some Scots, there was also success. The “parcel of rogues” secured their ill-gotten gains and departed to London. For Presbyterians the Protestant faith in Scotland was safe and the position of the Church of Scotland as the established church was secured. Free trade across Great Britain and with the English colonies was attained and the foundations for Scottish financial stability were established, although it would take another thirty years before there was any great improvement in the Scottish economy. There were further successes for Scotland over the next three hundred years. The Scottish Enlightenment is unlikely to have taken place during the latter half of the eighteenth century without the Union being established. During this period the thinking and writing that was generated in Edinburgh shone like a beacon across the enlightened world. Horace Walpole commented in 1758 that “Scotland is the most accomplished nation in Europe” (Hermon, 2001) and the French philosopher Voltaire reputedly remarked “we look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation”. From this period, the works of Francis Hutcheson, David Hume and Adam Smith helped shape the modern world as we know it today.

Free trade enabled Scottish merchants to build networks across the British Empire and to develop trade with the colonies. Glasgow was at the heart of the commercial growth of Scotland from 1745 onwards. The Tobacco Lords not only dominated the Scottish trade in tobacco, they almost monopolised the tobacco trade of Great Britain. In 1758 Scottish tobacco imports from America were larger than London and all English ports combined (Herman, 2001). With sugar and cotton also being imported, Scottish commerce blossomed. However, the advent of the American Revolution saw the decline of the tobacco trade, but this was now the dawn of the industrial revolution in which Scotland was to play a major role. The industrial revolution changed the face of central Scotland and the west coast in particular. Cotton mills, mining, shipbuilding, and heavy engineering all thrived in Scotland during this period, growing from easy access to the markets of the British Empire. It was during this period that Glasgow claimed the title “second city of the Empire” and the economy of Scotland was thriving. Signs of decline in the industrial bedrock of the Scottish economy started to emerge from the beginning of the twentieth century, but the industrial effort of two world wars delayed the final onset of this decline until the nineteen fifties. However, the resilience of the Scots once again came to the fore and a thriving financial services industry started to emerge in Edinburgh and Glasgow during the nineteen sixties. This financial services industry grew and prospered until being severely damaged by the financial crash in 2008.