JOSEPH P Kennedy, President Roosevelt's ambassador to Britain, praised the Scots in America when in April 1939 he received an honorary degree from Edinburgh University, and the freedom of the city in an Usher Hall ceremony (above). There he said: "We have about 350,000 of your countrymen with us at the moment. Some millions of our people, moreover, are descended from Scottish stock. Scots have contributed a great deal to the development of my country."

Kennedy - whose son, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, would serve as US president from 1961 until 1963 - addressed the international situation. "Open warfare rages in at least one country, covert warfare burns fitfully beneath the surface of international relationships throughout the world. Trade is slowly being strangled, diplomacy is on the defensive, and ill-will which it will take generations to eradicate is being recklessly engendered. Without minimising the tragedy of it all, let us take consolation from the fact that, thus far at least, we have been able to avoid taking the fatal step leading to general war." We still had peace, we still had freedom, we still had faith, he added.

The JFK Presidential Library and Museum notes however that Kennedy senior's "personal aversion to war put him firmly in the appeasement camp, a position that was losing favor in Britain. When war broke out in 1939, [his] firm and outspoken commitment to US neutrality put him increasingly at odds with the British government, and eventually his own. Kennedy ultimately resigned in November 1940."