Edinburgh & the USA

Two signatories of the Declaration of Independence, John Witherspoon and Benjamin Rush, were Edinburgh graduates.

Declaration of Independance

John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon, a graduate from the University of Edinburgh in Theology in 1739, became the sixth president of Princeton University in 1768. Witherspoon reformed Princeton’s academic syllabus and structure along the lines of Scottish universities. Witherspoon left an impressive legacy at Princeton.

From the students he taught at Princeton came thirty-seven Judges, three of whom made Supreme Court, ten of his former students became cabinet officers, twelve were members of the Continental Congress, twenty-eight sat in the Senate, forty-nine were United States congressmen, one became Vice-president, and finally one, President (James Madison).

“You are now in a place where the best courses upon earth are within your reach and being delivered in your native language. … Such an opportunity you will never again have. I would therefore strongly press on you to fix no other limit to your stay in Edinborough than your having got thro this whole course..”

Thomas Jefferson

Aug. 27, 1786

Alumni and student population

Our alumni today include physicians, academics, lawyers, Congressmen, the co-founder of TiVo, a Vice-President of Chevron, an Emmy award-winning actor, a Group Vice President of Unilever and many more.

Recent University honorary degree recipients include Bill Gates, Alan Greenspan and Neil Armstrong.

The University welcomes over 1,700 North American students each year, one of the largest concentrations in the United Kingdom.

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