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James McCosh (1811-94)

James McCosh was a major figure in the religious and intellectual history of Scotland, mid-nineteenth century Ulster and the late-nineteenth century United States. In Ulster he was Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in Queen’s College, Belfast, an outstanding educationalist and opinion former. As President of Princeton, he led the college with great skill, transforming it and preparing it for university status. He represented the last great flowering of the Scottish Enlightenment. If Francis Hutcheson was the intellectual embodiment of the ‘constant factor’ between Ulster and Scotland, McCosh was emblematic of the wider Ulster-Scots epic linking Scotland, Ulster and America.

Further reading: David N. Livingstone, ‘James McCosh and the Scottish Intellectual Tradition’ in Alvin Jackson & David N. Livingstone, Queen’s Thinkers: Essays on the intellectual heritage of a university (Belfast, 2008).

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