The Scottish / American
Three Arrow Symbol
Robert J. Silverstein
Research Concept Notes:
The Three Arrows on the George Washington inaugural buttons can represent several things in reference to Scottish history. My first theory is simple, it can stands for the King (being the Majestic Eagle) Scotland, England, and Ireland. The second theory is that the three arrows represents The Royal Company of Archers from Scotland. Throughout history these noted archers were the Lifeguards (Bodyguards) to the King of Scotland until he was deposed from the throne. When Robert Scot is doing the Three Arrow design on the GWI 1, 12, 13,24, and 25 button he is giving America’s New Republic a Proud Scottish Military foundation from his own history. Even though the Bonnie died in 1788, Robert Scot could have viewed the Three Arrow Symbol as a tribute to this old Scottish ceremonial guard. This also could have been a “Propaganda Technique” by Robert Scot. Maybe the Three Arrows was a way of strengthening George Washington’s political position for continued Jacobite support? By using this old guard heraldry symbol he might have been directing his intent at the older generation of Scottish families who lost their dream of the Bonnie Prince ruling in America. By the use of these Three Arrows with President’s Eagle (Fig 1.) he is depicting it as a symbol representing Scottish Protection and Allegiance. Through cross-examination of evidence (Fig. A.2) we see Robert Scot’s 1778 Currency note engraving that was printed by Halls and Sellers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This is some supporting evidence to my concept theory. This note dates to more then 10 years before there was even a thought of a Federal Government nevertheless a United States. In this depiction, Robert Scot pays two tributes. One to the Royal Company of Archers, and the second to his teacher Sir Robert Strange. If we examine the note carefully we can see Sir Robert Strange’s Scrolling Art work he did for the Prince Bonnie’s army notes. Robert Scot used his teacher’s techniques here for anti-counterfeiting purposes. Secondly, Sir Robert Strange was the Lifeguard for the Prince Bonnie before exiled to France. Who were the lifeguards made-up from? The Royal Company of Archers. So, with those two theories I see Scottish relationship ties all around me.
The American Patriot that bought a GW button saw the Three Arrows from the official Federal view. The Olive Branch and Three Arrows represents our Federal government. The symbols denote the power of peace & war which is exclusively vested in both houses of Congress and the President.
Figure: A.1 GWI 12 with Eagle & Three Arrows.
Figure: A.2 Robert Scot’s Philadelphia Currency note Depicting the Scottish three Arrows.
Photograph provided by G. Geanotti
All my research for Three Arrow Symbol was done on simple a Google Search, and then I fused all the readings I felt relevant to my study on GW buttons. Wikipedia offers a great history of the Royal Company of Archers. I suggest you start there if you would like to learn more.