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Monday, July 28, 2014

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Scotland's first minister to speak, April 6

Jack McConnell, first minister of Scotland, will speak at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 6, in 101 McCormick Hall as part of a celebration of Tartan Day.

McConnell, whose position is equivalent to prime minister, will discuss "Scotland's Values, Ideas and Ambitions, From John Witherspoon to Today" and will highlight the connections between Witherspoon, Princeton, Scotland and the United States. While the address is open to the public, those interested are asked to register to attend by calling (609) 258-5980.

Tartan Day is formally appointed as the day of celebration of past and present links between Scotland and the United States. Tartan Day itself, April 6, was chosen because it is the date in 1320 that the Declaration of Arbroath (a declaration of Scottish sovereignty) was signed. The Declaration of Arbroath is recognized by historians as one of the models upon which the U.S. Declaration of Independence is based. In addition to Princeton, McConnell also will be participating in events during that week that will showcase modern Scotland in New York, North Carolina and Washington, D.C.

He is coming to the University, in part, because of the strong historic ties to Witherspoon, Princeton's sixth president from 1768 to 1794. Witherspoon was born in Scotland and served as a pastor there until taking the Princeton job. A leading member of the Continental Congress, he was the only clergyman and only college president to sign the Declaration of Independence. In honor of Witherspoon's contributions in this country and in Scotland, twin statues by acclaimed Scottish sculptor Alexander Stoddard were installed in 2001 -- one near East Pyne Hall at Princeton and one at the University of Paisley in Scotland.

The event is sponsored by the University and the Historical Society of Princeton.

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