ROBERT A. CALVERT, Editor
Scottish Capital on the American Credit Frontier. By W. G. Kerr. (Aus-
tin: Texas State Historical Association, 1976. Pp. xviii + 246. Illus-
trations, bibliography, index. $13.)
Foreign investment in the American West has been the subject of sev-
eral good books. In his Scottish Capital on the American Credit Frontier,
W. G. Kerr has added another excellent volume to the literature on fi-
nancing western economic development. Previous studies have dealt prin-
cipally with investments in cattle ranching and mining. While Kerr gives
some attention to Scottish investments in western ranching, he is chiefly
concerned with mortgage credit extended on farm and urban property.
This study centers around three Scottish financial institutions that made
substantial investments in the United States in the late nineteenth century.
These were the Texas Land and Mortgage Company, the Scottish Ameri-
can Mortgage Company, and the Alliance Trust Company. The compan-
ies raised money from Scottish investors and banks and loaned it out
through designated agents in the United States. The mortgage companies
provided an ideal source of higher risk investment for Scots who already
had investment security in bonds and government securities. Although
most of the Scottish company loans were made in the Trans-Mississippi
West, with the largest amount in Texas, they also loaned money in the
South and Midwest. Discussion of the lesser known southern investments
is one of the most interesting and significant parts of the study.
There may have been more glamor in cattle raising than in farming,
but the canny Scots recognized that sound mortgages placed on land would
bring greater and more reliable profits then investments in ranching. The
Scottish companies generally made small loans of less than $I,ooo on the
basis of about one-third of the property's value. By the 188os the Scottish
firms had a far-flung business that extended from Washington State in
the Northwest to Georgia in the Southeast.
Besides dealing with the general history of company activities in the
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 80, July 1976 - April, 1977. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101204/. Accessed December 12, 2013.