The article bridges the traditional differentiation between “overseas” and “contiguous” (landmass) empires by focusing on the typical “continental” imperial policies of the English and then British government toward the Highland region of Scotland. The author argues that many “overseas” British imperial practices were developed in the late seventeenth century through the first half of the eighteenth century in Scotland, under the direct influence of the continental political culture of Cameralism. Thus, an important instrument used toward solving the “Highland problem” (understood as the pacification and modernization of the region) was “political arithmetic”: elementary population statistics, a precursor to political economy. The author characterizes the entanglement of academic practices with pragmatics of imperial governance and colonization as conscious social engineering. This early instance of social engineering helps in understanding many aspects of British imperial policies and latter-day attempts at social engineering as part of overseas colonialism.