ONE of the more annoying aspects of Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign was that very few people in the media, The National being an honourable exception, took The Donald to task about the fact he was all for curbs on poor immigrants when his own mother was one herself.

On his campaign website, Trump said he would “establish new immigration controls to boost wages and to ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first”.

He also stated he would “select immigrants based on their likelihood of success in the US and their ability to be financially self-sufficient” and added “the influx of foreign workers holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high … we need to control the admission of new low-earning workers”.

As The National proved beyond any doubt, Trump’s mother arrived in the USA in 1930 on the day after her 18th birthday. Mary Anne Macleod was a lawful immigrant from a very poor background on Lewis, and was heading to her sister’s home in Queens, New York, to begin lifeas a “domestic servant”, as it stated on her arrival documents held at Ellis Island. Trump has real problems with that verified account. On his Trump International Golf Links website he states that his mother “landed in Manhattan at the age of 20”, making out that she was moving in higher circles, and not even getting her age correct.

Nor did Trump play up his status as a half-Scottish son of a woman who lived the American Dream, for to do so would have surely invited questions as to why he was preparing to limit the availability of that dream.

By making such errors in his own mother’s history, deliberately or otherwise, the president-elect was dissing a fine Scotswoman and the immigrant history of hundreds of thousands of Scots who made the USA their home and who, as we shall show, had a disproportionate effect on the world’s greatest nation.

In effect, we have a Scottish history lesson in three parts for Donald Trump, and though we doubt whether The National is required reading in Trump Towers, perhaps he may reflect on the contribution that immigrant Scots have made to the USA. Next week we will look at the Scottish influence on the very foundation of the USA, but in this first part we will show how Scottish innovation and entrepreneurship, and immigrants’ need to “get on” helped to make America a great industrial power.

For it is almost a truism to say that while the Irish moved to America and went into politics, public houses and the police, the Scots immigrated into industry, invention, business and banking.

It was a conversation with that proud Dundonian and fiercely Scottish patriot Bobby Carroll that inspired this column. Bobby pointed out on television that the American detective show we were watching featured a Buick car and Harley-Davidson motorcycle, two of the most famous names in American manufacturing history. Both had their antecedents just a few miles apart from each other in Angus.

Alexander “Sandy” Davidson emigrated from an estate near Brechin to America with his wife and six children in the 1858 and eventually settled in Wisconsin where his son William married Margaret McFarlane of Scottish descent.

Three of their sons, Arthur, Walter and William A Davidson joined with William S Harley to form the Harley-Davidson motorcycle company in Milwaukee. Today, it is still producing the famous machines in the USA where the firm employs nearly 6,000 people.

The cottage in which Sandy and family lived on the Melgund estate has recently been saved from dereliction by a group of Harley-Davidson enthusiasts and has become virtually a shrine for bikers.

Just down what is now the A933 road, four years before the Davidsons emigrated, David Dunbar Buick was born in Arbroath, the son of a joiner also named Alexander and known as Sandy. His family emigrated to Detroit before the Davidsons, when Buick was two.

The Buicks were determined to make a real go of life in the USA and, fresh from school, William started his working life in a factory which made plumbing items such as baths. The company almost collapsed until William took it over and boosted its fortunes with his first major invention, which was a method for coating cast iron baths in vitreous enamel. It is no great exaggeration to say that baths around the world are mainly white because Buick made them so.

He developed a passion for the internal combustion engine, and sold his plumbing business to raise the money to establish the Buick Manufacturing Company. Again, he came up with an innovation, the overhead valve, which is still widely used today.

Sadly, Buick did not have the Davidson’s flair for business and also disagreed with the philosophy of William C Durant who took over Buick – he believed in mass production while the Scot wanted every car to be a piece of craftwork. Durant won, and later founded General Motors, while Buick died almost forgotten, though his name is still used for the quality range of vehicles produced by General Motors.

Those are just two of the many industrialists and entrepreneurs of Scottish birth or descent who made their name in the USA, the greatest of whom was Andrew Carnegie, who will be profiled in the third of this mini-series, a Back in the Day special.

You could fill this entire newspaper many times over with tales about Carnegie, but before we get to him in a fortnight’s time, here are a few other Scots who more than made their mark on the USA … On 24 January, 1848, James Marshall of Scottish descent looked in a creek at Coloma, and started the California Gold Rush, in which one young Scot, Andrew Smith Hallidie, introduced the use of wire cable and later designed cable cars for San Francisco. His patent for the latter invention was adopted around the world and made him a very wealthy man, with Hallidie Plaza in the Golden Gate city named after him.

People had to journey a long way to California for the Gold Rush, and the great Scottish-Canadian shipbuilder Donald Mackay got them there on sailing ships such as the Flying Cloud which his company manufactured in East Boston – it set the sail ship world record twice for the New York to San Francisco run.

Latterly, it was the railroads which got folks to the Golden State and it was Peter Donahoe of Glasgow who built the first steam locomotive in California. He and his brothers built steam engines and created foundries that provided the metal for the industrialisation of several states. Though some doubt it, the industrialist Peter Cooper had Scottish ancestry, and he built the first steam locomotive in the USA.

People also needed to talk to each other across the vast distances of the USA, and along came Edinburgh-born Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, who revolutionised communications around the world. His Bell Telephone Company spawned AT&T, still the largest telecommunications company in the world measured by revenue.

Long before Bell, Henry Burden from Dunblane immigrated to the USA in 1819 at the age of 28 after studying engineering at Edinburgh University. His genius was to invent machines that could do the work of human hands much quicker, and his first major inventions were machines for manufacturing horseshoes and ship spikes which revolutionised iron working. He built the giant Burden Iron plant that produced the spikes he designed that held down the railroads of America, and was one of the first men to declare that iron could be used to clad ships – and proved it with the defences of the USS Monitor, the first ironclad ship of the Union Navy.

It wasn’t just invention and manufacture that Scots came to dominate. The Dundonian banker Robert Fleming rarely left his office in London but had a massive influence on the development of the USA’s railways, paying for about 40 per cent of the network at one time through the Scottish American Investment Company which is listed on the Stock Exchange to this day.

In American business, there are few bigger names than Cargill and Forbes. William Wallace Cargill was the son of a Scottish sea captain who founded a firm that traded in grain in Iowa. He later added lumber to his trading, and started a dynasty that still owns Cargill, the largest privately-held corporation in the USA, and a global giant in many fields from commodities to futures trading and livestock.

The aircraft-making firm of McDonnell Douglas was another global giant, until it merged with Boeing in 1997. Both founders, James Smith McDonnell and Donald Wills Douglas, were of Scottish descent, and proud of it. Northern Ireland and Scotland both have a claim to the remarkable Alexander Turney Stewart who was born in Lisburn to Scottish parents.

Stewart’s genius was to see that retailing was changing in the 19th century and he invested heavily in what was then a revolutionary concept – the department store, building what was known as the “cradle” of such stores on Broadway in New York. He then virtually invented the American mail order business, and for good measure built his own mills to manufacture clothing for his shops as well as devising and funding the Long Island railroad.

Bell, Cargill, Douglas – these are the great names of Scottish innovation, business leadership and entrepreneurship in the USA but, of course, the greatest contribution was made by the ordinary Scots who left their native land in their millions and became shipbuilders, engineers, bankers and business people in countless communities across the USA.

And we still haven’t really mentioned Andrew Carnegie, arguably the greatest Scottish immigrant to the USA, though no doubt Donald Trump might disagree.