Friends of the Scottish Tartan Museum will celebrate Tartan Day on Saturday, April 5, with a Scottish Lunch that the Friends put on annually for the downtown business persons of Franklin.
“It is a favor for putting up with all our Scottish foolery in front of their shops during Taste of Scotland in June,” said Eleanor Swift, president of Friends of the Scottish Tartan Museum.
This year, the copy of the Treaty of Arbroath was lifted from its hidden spot along the display and a large illustrated poster was made describing what preceded its composition and the important effects it had in England and in America. It started out with William Wallace handing over the leadership to Robert the Bruce who inspired the Scots to win at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
King Robert tried his best to keep the English from having designs on Scotland. At long length, the Abbot at Abroath Abbey between Montrose and St. Andrews called all the local leaders together – 38 barons and a few earls, if the story is correct.
They drew up three documents to be sent to the Pope, begging him to support their desire for freedom from British interference. Only one of these manuscripts survived. Several copies were made of it, but only the barons’ letter with the wax seals affixed has survived. It is called the “Declaration of Arbroath” dated April 6, 1320, and the copy is in the Museum in Edinburgh. The Scottish Tarten Museum has a photograph of the document.
Another interesting development of this document, along with the strength from winning the Battle of Bannockburn, is that Scotland did enjoy independence for 300 years. The Pope however, never did sign the document(s) into law. In spite of that, the “Declaration of Arbroath” did modify the absolute power of the British monarchy into a constitutional monarchy later on. And for Americans, the imprint of its statutes of freedom so filled the hearts of the Continental Congress in the 1770s, that it formed much of the precepts of the “Declaration of Independence.” Seeking freedom from political or economic oppression, 13 signers either came from Scotland or their parents came from Scotland.
In appreciation for the strong beliefs in freedom from our Scottish heritage, The “Declaration of Arbroath,” the United States Congress declared that April 6 would be “Tartan Day.”