Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

Scotland's Influence on Civilization
The Scot Abroad: or, Influence of Scotland on America and Other Lands


THE picture of what the Scotsman has been and of what he has done on his native soil would not be quite complete without some description, however brief, of his achievements abroad. It would be a curious chapter indeed which should tell us of all his doings and all his migrations—his adventurous wanderings over sea and land, his daring inquests after fortune wherever fortune might be found, his enterprising industries in all civilized nations and his thriving colonies on many an inhospitable and savage shore. It would be difficult to say where the Scotsman has not gone, and wherever he has gone, as a general rule, he has gone to stay—at least, until he was able to return full-handed. He has acted on the principle that our planet was made to be possessed and improved by civilized men, and there are not many climes, however uninviting at first, in which he has not found a lodgment and taken root, and which he has not made the better by reason of his being there.

The whole story of what Scotsmen have done abroad would, in fact, widen itself out into the colonial, political, missionary and commercial history of modern times; for there are not many trading-posts in British America, or missionary stations on continent and island, or flourishing colonies within the wide migrations of the English-speaking race, where the bold and hardy sons of Scotland have not lent a helping hand. They are to be found in all parts of India; they have pushed their exploring way through and through the Dark Continent and founded missionary stations on its eastern and southern coasts. They have built up flourishing communities and churches in Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and other provinces of Australia, and have borne a part in the civilization and colonization of New Zealand and the scattered Polynesian world. From an early period they have formed a constituent element in the settlement and development of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Canadas. In the whole history and growth of the United States no European nationality has contributed a more important part than the Scotch and their nearest kindred, the Scotch-Irish.

Of course, Scotland could never have held within its narrow bounds an athletic and enterprising race like this when once it had tasted the tree of knowledge and gotten hold of that intellectual and moral power which fitted it for a wider sphere. It was inevitable that so confined a territory should lose its educated sons and daughters, and that they should find their way to all parts of the earth where fortune was to be made by industry, or battles won by valor, or where power and distinction were to be gained by intelligence and character. A hive so full of life and active energy could not help swarming.

One of the most prominent characteristics of the Scotch emigrant in every land is that he has always carried his Christian principles with him. They were too deeply inwrought by the home-training into every fibre of his being to be easily laid aside. Hence, in every country where he has made his dwelling-place, he has sought to plant his own ideas and to build up his own institutions of religion and education. By the law of his being he has been a propagandist, a teacher, a missionary, as well as a worker. From his youth he has been a believer in the Bible, the church, the school, the college. What was good for Scotland he has held to be good for other lands. Hence, among heathen tribes, to the extent of his influence and example, he has always appeared in the character of a teacher and civilizer. And the civilization introduced by him has not been more distinctly Scottish than it has been Christian.
Nothing could better illustrate the Christian and educational influences carried by Scottish emigrants and missionaries to the ends of the earth than the history of the British colonies in the great island-continent of Australia. There a grand Christian empire, whose geographical area is nearly equal to Europe, has been rising within the southern hemisphere since the opening of the present century. Its principal growth has been by English-speaking colonists and missionaries of Christian churches in the British isles, and in that colonization Scotland has borne no inconsiderable part. "One hundred years ago," said a delegate from Australia to the Edinburgh Pan-Presbyterian Council of 1877, the Rev. Alexander J. Campbell, "when the American States were separating themselves and their destinies from Great Britain, God put into Scotland's hands the continent of Australia. 'Go there,' he seemed to say to her, 'to that vast habitable land; fill it with men, and, instructed by the experience of the past, rear there a Christian nation self-controlled and free.'" The first Presbyterian minister who .made a permanent settlement in the country, in 1823, was from the Church of Scotland, and he for many years stood alone. This was the Rev. John Dunmore Lang, D. D., an eminent scholar and divine, who by his faithful toil and repeated visits to the mother-country did much to place the new colony on a career of successful development.

Since that day Australia has been explored, settled with emigrants and divided into seven or eight great provinces with an aggregate population of more than a million of souls. After the progress of about half a century, as shown by reports made to the Presbyterian Council of 1883, the Presbyterian population alone, aside from the Episcopal, Wesleyan and other communions, had increased to two hundred thousand, with organized congregations, settled ministers, schools and colleges, active evangelists and good church edifices in each province. The older of these provinces, as Victoria and New South Wales, not only have their flourishing and self-sustaining churches, but their colleges and theological halls for the training of ministers, and their boards of foreign and domestic missions for the once pagan islands of the New Hebrides and for the aboriginal inhabitants of Australia. All these churches, presbyteries and synods, with their schools of learning, are modeled after those of the mother-country, and are in thorough sympathy with the doctrinal and ecclesiastical standards of the Scottish Churches. So great has been the influence of Scotland over the people of the country that Australia, with its Bibles, its Sabbaths, its churches and its schools, might be styled the Scotland of the southern hemisphere.

It was an interesting circumstance, as illustrating the progress of civilization around the globe, that representatives should be sent from the churches of this far-off ocean-world to the first cosmopolitan council of the scattered Presbyterian family. And it seemed eminently fitting that this gathering of all the Presbyterian descendants from the original stock should celebrate the reunion by a first session at the old St. Giles church, Edinburgh, the venerable mother of all the famiIy. How glorious did it fulfill and verify the ancient prophecy that the "Messiah should have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth," and that the "uttermost parts of the earth should be given to him for his possession." When those children from southern skies and recently unknown lands left their distant antipodal homes to meet at the old hearthstone of the Covenant, and there mingle their songs and their thanksgivings with their brethren of the North and the Western States and of old European nations, what an illustration was it of Isaiah's inspired words, " The Lord bath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God"!

The western continent, through its wide domains of British America, the United States and the West Indies, bears the impress of Scottish names and Scottish character. Not only has the Nova Scotia of the West, but all parts of our own country have likewise, had the benefit in their early settlement, as in later years, of a steady influx of thrifty, intelligent and hardy immigrants from Scotland, sometimes forming small local colonies of their own, but more frequently mingling as constituent elements in the English-speaking population of the country. The Dominion of Canada, now comprising seven provinces and stretching entirely across the continent from the maritime provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to the Pacific coast, drew a large part of its original colonists from France; and of its population to-day of three millions and three-quarters about one-half are Roman Catholics. As reported to the Edinburgh Council of 1877 by James Croil, Esq., of Montreal, the Presbyterian, Episcopal and Methodist Churches in Canada claim altogether a population of one million and three-quarters in nearly equal proportions, the Baptists one-quarter of a million, leaving another quarter of a million to Congregationalists, Lutherans and other denominations. This Presbyterian population was at the first chiefly from Scotland and the North of Ireland. The Presbyterian Church of Canada in its earlier. history obtained its chief supply of ministers from Scotland and the North of Ireland. Hence the Canadian Presbyterianism has always been of the Scottish type. Until recently, however, it has had its shades of difference and all the divisions that appeared in the mother-countries.

In process of time the Scottish Presbyterianism, both of the Establishment, the United Presbyterian and the Free Church, found a congenial home and took deep root in several of the provinces of Canada. In 1867 the political confederation of all the provinces which now constitute the Dominion of Canada was happily brought about. There sprung up at once, in unison with that important event, a strong desire for a closer alliance among the Presbyterian organizations. In 1861 two of the churches—the United Presbyterian and the Free Church—were united under one synod, and in 1870 this united body constituted the First General Assembly of the Canadian Presbyterian Church. This first union was soon followed by a still wider one. Formal negotiations for a complete ecclesiastical union were begun in 1870, and in 1875 culminated in an organization which happily united under one General Assembly all the scattered Presbyterians in all the Canadian provinces.

It will thus be seen that in the important matter of healing old divisions and coming together in the bonds of Christian unity the Presbyterians of Canada are far in advance of those of our own country and those of Scotland. No such happy blending of differences and closing up of the ranks has yet taken place with us or with the mother-churches of Scotland. When these distant daughters of the old Kirk—one amid the snows of Canada, the other almost under the tropical suns of Australia----can find a way to meet in common Christian brotherhood without any compromise of doctrinal principle or ecclesiastical order, one would hope that the day is near at hand when the three venerable Assemblies of the mother-land and the five full-grown daughters of our land, besides a few little sisters of uncertain age, might be induced to imitate the magnanimous example.

This united Church of all the Canadian provinces, with its schools of learning and its boards of foreign and domestic missions, has now entered upon its new departure with every element of success. According; to the reports made at the Edinburgh council, it then numbered 928 ministers, probationers, missionaries and catechists, 3656 ruling elders, 1450 congregations and preaching stations, 99,653 communicants, 5 colleges and divinity-halls, 60o,000 population, and an annual contribution to church and missionary work of £1,000,000. Besides its work of home-evangelization in Canada, this united Church has four important foreign missions—in Trinidad, in India, in Formosa and in the New Hebrides—most of them established by the churches before their union. The earliest of them, New Hebrides, begun in 1848 by the Rev. John Geddie, D. D., of the United Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia, has been crowned with one of the most remarkable successes of modern missions. Between that day and this some twenty-three faithful laborers have entered the field, some to fall victims in the cause. "The names of George N. Gordon, Ellen C. Gordon, his wife, and James D. Gordon, his brother, are enrolled among the missionary martyrs of Erromanga." But few missionaries have been more successful than their heroic predecessor, Dr. Geddie, whose high encomium stands to-day on a tablet in the chapel of Ancityum, where he was accustomed to preach, for ever associated with the words, "When he came here, there were no Christians; and when he went away, there were no heathens."

The pulpit of the Canadian Church has been adorned by many men of distinguished ability, some of whom have been eminent as instructors of youth in the colleges, and some in different fields of authorship as well as in the pastoral office.

Even before the union of the several churches the Canadian Presbyterians had been highly successful in laying the solid foundations of a number of colleges and theological schools for the thorough training of their ministry. Of these they have five in successful operation in different parts of the United Kingdom. Of these the oldest is Queen's University and College, at Kingston, founded in 1840 by the branch of the Church in connection with the Established Church of Scotland. It combines the faculties of both arts and theology and has the power of conferring degrees. It has seven professors—five in arts and two in theology—and has a large endowment. Besides other classes of students, it has since its establishment educated more than a hundred ministers for the Presbyterian Church. The next is Knox College, at Toronto, which is altogether a theological institution, having three divinity professors and one lecturer. This was founded in 1844 by the branch of the Church then known as the Free Church, in sympathy with that of the same name in the mother-country. Connected with it is a preparatory department with two classical teachers and one teacher of elocution. This institution is also largely endowed and has capacious and elegant buildings, with a large library and a large attendance of young men preparing for the ministry. At Quebec is Morrin College, founded in t 86o, with a large bequest by Dr. Morrin of that city, for the instruction of youth in the higher branches of learning, and especially of young men for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. It has two professors in divinity and one of mathematics, with lectures in science and philosophy. Its literary department is affiliated with McGill University, at Montreal. The Presbyterian College of Montreal, founded in 1867, has a staff of two professors in divinity and several lecturers. A special feature of this institution is the education of French students for missionary and evangelical work among the French-speaking Roman Catholic population in the province of Quebec and elsewhere. It has an endowment of $40,000 and property valued at $60,000. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, there was in 1860 a union of the Presbyterians of the province, and the two then existing theological halls were merged into one in that city in connection with Dalhousie College, in which the Presbyterians have a joint-interest. The theological hall has three professors in divinity, with a large endowment. These five institutions annually give to the Church from twenty to thirty educated ministers. In addition to these, there is also a collegiate institute at Winnipeg, in Manitoba, with three instructors.

Among the more prominent ministers, pastors and instructors of the Presbyterian Church of Canada may be mentioned Principal William Caven, D. D., and Professors William McLaren, D. D., and William Gregg, D. D., of Knox College, and William Reed, D. D., Toronto; Principal G. M. Grant, D. D., John Leitch, D. D., and Professor William Snodgrass, D. D., of Queen's University, Kingston; Principal D. H. McVicar, LL.D., and Professor J. W. Dawson, LL.D., of McGill University, and J. C. Murray, LL.D., Montreal; Principal Cook, D. D., of Morrin College, George D. Matthews, D. D., Quebec; Principal McKnight of the Presbyterian College and Professor Currie of Halifax; Principal King of the College of Manitoba; Professor Robert C. Campbell and Rev. John Jenkins, LL.D., Montreal; Rev. J. J. Proudfoot, D. D., pastor, and Professor Loudon; Professor Mouat of Queen's University; Rev. James Fleck and Rev. James S. Black, Montreal; Rev. D. Al. Gordon of Winnipeg and \V. C. Cochran of Brantford.

In our own country, from an early period, the element of Scottish influence has been widespread and potential. Many distinct European nationalities have had a share in the growth and development of our great republic, each in turn leaving its peculiar impress on the history and the national character. English Puritans, French (Huguenots, German and Dutch Reformers, Irish Catholics, Scotch and Irish Presbyterians,—all helped to swell the original stock of colonization, and all took part, more or less, in settling the country, founding its institutions and achieving its independence. To this day the influence of each of these nationalities is distinctly felt throughout the nation. "Next to the Puritans of England," says Dr. Robert Baird in his work Religion in America, "we must unquestionably rank the Scotch as having largely contributed to form the religious character of the United States." From the period of the English Revolution of 1688 down to the time of our national Declaration of Independence there was a continual current of Presbyterian emigrants into the colonies from Scotland and the North of Ireland, all bringing with them their religious customs and doctrines, and frequently their educated ministers. These Scotch and Irish Presbyterians filled up in large measure portions of Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia. As the country increased in population this Presbyterian stream flowed south and west and spread itself over Western Pennsylvania and the Carolinas, and at a later period extended into Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia, in all which regions its influence is distinctly felt to this day.

"The Presbyterian Church of the United States," says Dr. William B. Sprague in his Annals of the American Pulpit, "must undoubtedly be considered of Scottish origin." The names of prominent ministers and churches brought to view in the Annals, especially through all the earlier periods, furnish abundant illustrations of this fact. In many cases the early churches of Presbyterians in this country were called Scottish churches, as mostly, if not exclusively, composed of settlers from Scotland. New York, Philadelphia, and even Boston, had each its Scotch church. "Scarcely a prominent city in the land, from Boston to Chicago—the youngest of the cities—has been without its Scotch Presbyterian church." A large proportion, also, of the educated ministry, in all the earlier history, was of Scottish birth or of Scottish descent and education. Where this was not the case, the early ministry was mostly from the Presbyterian churches and colleges of the North of Ireland, substantially the same as the Scotch.

This Scottish and Scotch-Irish element, which showed its presence so largely in the early colonization of our country, and which in all our subsequent history has made its influence felt in both our civil and our ecclesiastical affairs, belongs to all the separate Presbyterian bodies in our land except those of Huguenot or Dutch Reformed ancestry. With these exceptions, our whole Presbyterian family of churches—the Northern, the Southern, the United Presbyterian, with the small remnants of the old Swedes and Associated Reformed, and the more recent large body of Cumberland Presbyterians--may trace its honorable pedigree back to Scotland and the North of Ireland; so that whatever of public and private good has come to our great country, whatever of moral, religious and educational training, whatever of individual prosperity or national greatness, by reason of the presence and influence of nearly one million of Presbyterian church-members, with their schools, colleges, churches, asylums for the poor and the orphan, and diversified benevolent and missionary boards and agencies,--must all be attributed to that grand Presbyterian and Christian civilization which, reared to manly vigor on Scotch and Irish soil, ere long found in America its truer and more congenial home.

In the Presbyterian General Council of 1877, at Edinburgh, it was abundantly shown how far the influence of Presbyterian principles had been extended over the earth, and how that influence had emanated largely from the mother churches of Geneva and Edinburgh. Dr. Archibald Alexander Hodge, one of the delegates from the United States, said: "It is an historical fact, acknowledged by such impartial witnesses as Sir James Macintosh, Froude and Bancroft, that these Presbyterian principles revolutionized Western Europe and her populations and inaugurated modern history. As to their influence upon civil as well as religious liberty, and upon national education, it is only necessary to cite the post-Reformation history of Geneva, Holland, the history of the Huguenots of France, the Puritans of England, the Presbyterians of Scotland and the founders of the American republic, where for the first two hundred years of its history almost every college and seminary of learning, and every academy and common school, was built and sustained by Calvinists, and where the federal Constitution, providing for local self-government with national union, is evidently an historical growth from the same root which bore the ecclesiastical constitution elaborated by the Westminster Assembly."

It is not easy to say, or even to imagine, what our great country, with its noble institutions of civil and religious liberty, would be to-day had there been here from the beginning no Scottish influence, no Scotch-Irish character. No man can now tell what our history or destiny would have been had this one factor in the problem of our national greatness been stricken out. Every one must feel that it would have been an irreparable loss. We are safe in saying; that, whatever our country is to-day, the sturdy Presbyterian, whether from Scotland or the North of Ireland, both in the earlier and in the later periods, has contributed his full share of intelligence, of patriotism, of thrift and of toil to the making of it such as it is. Certainly a large proportion of our ablest ministers, our efficient school- and college-teachers, our faithful ruling elders and members in every branch of the Presbyterian Church, has been of Scotch or Scotch-Irish birth or extraction. During the struggle for national independence from 1776 to 1783 their influence, almost to a man, was on the side of the country. Whether as pastors of the churches, presidents and professors of the colleges and academies, members of Congress or of the provincial legislatures, as counselors in the Cabinet or as commissioned officers or private soldiers in the army, they shrank not from the responsibility of maintaining the justice of the war and the common cause of the country.

In the darkest hour of the struggle for national independence the Southern division of the Continental army, under General Nathaniel Greene, was largely composed of recruits from the Scotch and Scotch-Irish settlements of Pennsylvania, Virginia and the Carolinas, with not a few hardy pioneers from the mountainous districts of Kentucky and Eastern Tennessee. The comparatively small force that won the important and decisive battle of King's Mountain, and from that day turned the fortunes of the war, was of this character, being led by officers who in a number of instances were worthy elders of the Presbyterian Church, while young men of Presbyterian families, both Scotch and Irish, to a large extent constituted the rank and the file. Dr. Thomas Smythe of Charleston, South Carolina, who drew his information from reliable authorities, says: "The battles of the Cowpens, of King's Mountain, and also the severe skirmish known as 'Huck's Defeat,' are among the most celebrated in this State as giving a turning-point to the contest of the Revolution. General Morgan, who commanded at the Cowpens, was a Presbyterian elder; General Pickens, who made all the arrangements for the battle, was also a Presbyterian elder; and nearly all under their command were Presbyterians. In the battle of King's Mountain, Colonel Campbell, Colonel James Williams, Colonel Cleaveland, Colonel Shelby and Colonel Sevier were all Presbyterian elders, and the body of their troops were collected from Presbyterian settlements. At Huck's Defeat, in York, Colonel Bratton and Major Dickson were both elders in the Presbyterian Church. Major Samuel Morrow, who was with Colonel Sumter in four engagements, and at King's Mountain, Blackstock's and other battles, was for about fifty years a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church."

One illustrious example of patriotic devotion will ever stand in the historic annals of our country to tell coming generations of the service rendered to her cause. It is that of the venerable Dr. John Witherspoon. If Scotland had done nothing more than contribute this eminent scholar, teacher, statesman, patriot and divine to the young and suffering country at the most important crisis of its destiny, Scotland had thereby done enough to entitle herself to the nation's grateful remembrance for all time to come. Among all the great men with whom he stood associated during an eventful and hazardous war, and with whom he acted, when the war was over, in laying the foundations of our free institutions, there were but few who filled a more essential and important place than did Dr. Witherspoon. He had won a high distinction in his native land, both as a preacher and as a writer, when he was called to America in 1768, at the age of forty-six, to fill the presidency of Princeton College, New Jersey. The services he rendered to the college, both as an administrator of its affairs and as a practical instructor, were of the highest order. The institution at once entered upon a new and enlarged sphere of usefulness. He also, during the whole of this presidency, sustained the office of pastor to the Princeton Presbyterian church, preaching regularly twice on the Sabbath. When the crisis of the struggle for national independence came, he threw his whole influence, as a man and as a minister of God, on the side of the country, preaching and writing in its defence. In 1776 he was elected a member of the provincial Congress of New Jersey, and then of the Continental Congress at Philadelphia. Soon after taking his seat in the latter body he put his signature to the Declaration of Independence, for which measure his mind had been previously fully made up.

The memorable occasion, with its far-reaching results, has been portrayed in glowing and impressive terms by Dr. John M. Krebs, as related in an interesting volume by Dr. W. P. Breed: "When the Declaration of Independence was under debate in the Continental Congress, doubts and forebodings were whispered through the hall. The Houses hesitated, wavered, and for a while the liberty and slavery of the nation appeared to hang in an even scale. It was then an aged patriarch arose, a venerable and stately form, his head white with the frost of years. Every eye went to him with the quickness of thought, and remained with the fixedness of the polar star. He cast on the assembly a look of inexpressible interest and unconquerable determination, while on his visage the hue of age was lost in the flush of a burning patriotism that fired his cheek. `There is,' said he, 'a tide in the affairs of men, a nick of time. We perceive it now before us. To hesitate is to consent to our own slavery. That noble instrument upon your table, which ensures immortality to its author, should be subscribed this very morning by every pen in the house. He that will not respond to its accents and strain every nerve to carry into effect its provisions is unworthy the name of freeman. For my own part, of property I have some—of reputation, more. That reputation is staked, that property pledged, on the issue of this contest. And, although these gray hairs must soon descend into the sepulchre, I would infinitely rather they should descend there by the hand of the executioner than desert at this crisis the sacred cause of my country.' Who was it that uttered this memorable speech, potent in turning the scales of the nation's destiny and worthy to be preserved in the same imperishable record in which is registered the not more eloquent speech ascribed to John Adams on the same sublime occasion? It was John Witherspoon, at that day the most distinguished Presbyterian minister west of the Atlantic Ocean, the father of the Presbyterian Church in the United States."

These brief but weighty words, pregnant with the vitality of a young nation just struggling into existence, though uttered by one who had scarcely been a decade in the country, yet expressed the prevailing sentiment of the whole Presbyterian population of the land. To a man the Presbyterians of every colony were for the Declaration. Through the momentous struggle the Presbyterian Church re-echoed the ardent, determined, patriotic and uncompromising sentiments of that venerated and noble leader Dr. Witherspoon. He served in this high capacity for six consecutive sessions—from 1776 to 1782—and acted a most important part not only on the floor in public debate, but on many of the most important committees. Many of the important state papers were from his pen, and some of the most prominent measures adopted by Congress had their origin with him. Says Dr. Sprague, "Neither his courage nor his confidence ever faltered in the darkest day, being sustained not only by a naturally heroic spirit, but by an undoubting conviction of the rectitude of his country's cause. During the whole period in which he was occupied in civil life he never laid aside his ministerial character, but always appeared in every relation as became an ambassador of God. The calls for the observance of days of fasting and prayer were commonly, if not always, written by him. He preached always on the Sabbath whenever opportunity offered, and when for a short period he visited his church and family at Princeton."

Besides his great services to the nation, this eminent man was called to act a leading part during the formation period—from 1785 to 1788—when the Presbyterian Church of the country was reorganized under a General Assembly and the present standards of doctrine and polity were revised and adopted. The committee selected from our most distinguished Presbyterian fathers and entrusted with this business were Drs. Witherspoon, John Rodgers, John Woodhull, Robert Smith, Samuel Stanhope Smith, James Latta, George Duffield, Patrick Alison, Robert Cooper and Matthew Wilson. When the first General Assembly under the new organization met, in Philadelphia, in 1789—the year of the first meeting of our National Congress under the new Constitution—Dr. Witherspoon preached the opening sermon and presided until the first moderator of the body, Dr. Rodgers, was chosen. Since then we have had an unbroken succession of Assemblies and moderators every year to the present time; the Church has spread across the continent; several new organizations, with their annual Assemblies and moderators, have been formed; the oldest division of it---that under the Northern Assembly—has swelled to 24 synods, 190 presbyteries, 5516 ministers and licentiates, 19,968 ruling elders, 6287 deacons, 5973 churches and more than 615,000 communicants. To this vast development in a single line of our Presbyterian succession no one man, probably, of all the great men of a hundred years ago, contributed more than Dr. Witherspoon. And what is true of our Northern division of the Church is equally true of the Southern Presbyterian Church, and to some extent also of all the other branches of the Presbyterian family claiming descent from the mother-churches of Scotland and the North of Ireland. The population of the United States now represented by all the branches of our Presbyterian family in the land would number several millions of people, and those amongst our most intelligent and influential classes. And who can estimate the value of the influence of these educated classes upon the life and character of the nation?

"If there is one principle," says Dr. William P. Breed, "that stands out in pre-eminent relief in the conduct of Presbyterianism in Scotland, it is that of the inherent right of the Church to govern itself without let, hindrance or interference from the State. In the long and bloody war with the state under the Stuarts, while English prelacy courted, Presbyterianism denounced and repudiated, all state dictation and control. It would allow neither king nor Parliament to give it laws, or even to convoke the General Assembly. Again and again it repudiated Assemblies which had been controlled and corrupted by state agency and influence, and pronounced all their acts null and void. It told the king to his face that he was neither monarch over nor ruler in, but only a member and subject of, the Church. In our own country it was Presbyterianism chiefly that compelled the State to leave the Church in its native independence. Presbyterianism, says Dr. Thomas Smythe, first proclaimed this doctrine on American shores. It was opposed by Episcopacy in efforts to establish this doctrine in Virginia, and its universal establishment in our country and in the Constitution was the result of the movement made by Presbyterians."

In a passage of striking eloquence and power Dr. Smythe sums up the important and lasting obligations under which our whole American Church and the country itself must ever stand to Scottish Presbyterianism: "Who can compute the amount of obligation tinder which America lies to Scotland? To her we are indebted for the first example of a reformation that is a religious revolution, originated, carried on and completed by the people against the wishes and in opposition to the power of princes and nobles. To her we owe the noblest maintenance that has ever been exhibited of these principles of religious and civil freedom upon which our republic is based. To her we are indebted for Knox, Buchanan, Melville, Henderson, Guthrie, Rutherford, Gillespie, Argyle—then with genius sufficient to fathom the depths of political science, patriotism to scan the equal rights of the governed and the governor, courage to proclaim to kings their duty and to the people their rights, fortitude to offer up themselves, their fame, their honor, their comfort and their lives upon the altar of liberty, and faith to look forward in confidence to the day when the spark of freedom they enkindled and preserved would burst forth into a universal flame:

"'For freedom's battle, once begun,
Bequeathed by bleeding sire to son,
Though baffled oft, is ever won.'

"To Scotland we owe the successful issue of that eventful and long-protracted struggle for liberty of conscience, liberty of opinion and liberty of action which resulted in the downfall of the Stuarts, the glorious Commonwealth, the ever-memorable Revolution, and the acknowledgment of our American independence. Had not Scotland united her army with the English forces, the Long Parliament would have been subdued, the champions of liberty executed as felons, as were their exhumed bones, the chains of despotic power again fastened in tenfold severity upon an enslaved kingdom, and the hopes of the world crushed. To Scotland we owe the system of parish schools, the universal education of the people, the relief of the poor without laws, the establishment of universities under the guidance of religion and fully commensurate to the wants of an enlightened people. To Scotland we owe a large proportion of those ministers and people who colonized this country, Christianized and enlightened it, diffused over it the spirit and principles of freedom and fought the battles of our Revolution. ' Many Scottish Presbyterians,' says Bancroft, 'of virtue, education and courage, blending a love of popular liberty with religious enthusiasm, came over in such numbers as to give to the rising commonwealth a character which a century and a half has not effaced.' 'To the Scotch,' says Dr. Ramsay, `and their descendants, the inhabitants of Irish Ulster, South Carolina is indebted for much of its early literature. A great proportion of its physicians, clergymen, lawyers and schoolmasters were from North Britain. Now, these, to a man, were found ranged under the banners of our young republic from the very beginning of her contest until its glorious consummation."'

The important part enacted by the Scotch and the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in the early history of our country is well illustrated in a recent volume by the Rev. J. G. Craighead, D. D., entitled Scotch and Irish Seeds in American Soil, and published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication, Philadelphia. Their numerical strength, as compared with the whole population of the colonies, was not such as to give them the ascendency, but owing to their superior education, brought with them from the mother-countries or gained from the rising institutions of the adopted land, and owing also to their inborn and inextinguishable love of liberty, both civil and religious, there was not in the country a more intelligent and potential element.

"Our Presbyterian fathers," says Dr. Craighead, "recognizing the fact that civil and religious liberty exist or perish together, were constrained to contend equally for both; and what the world enjoys to-day of both it owes very largely to the unconquerable fortitude with which they encountered the perils and endured the sufferings which cruel, persecuting and despotic rulers inflicted. With such a history, and with such a providential training, it would indeed have been strange if the descendants of these heroic defenders of the faith should not manifest a strong attachment to the Presbyterian form of doctrine and government wherever they made their homes in America. It was not only because their civil rights were imperiled, but also because their religious freedom was in danger, that our Presbyterian fathers were such steadfast, earnest patriots. As in Scotland and Ireland, so here, they recognized the fact that civil and religious liberty stood or fell together; so that, while they protested against taxation without representation, they were equally opposed to any interference with the rights of conscience. These principles and sentiments were common to the Scotch and Scotch-Irish colonists and their descendants, and sustained them through the sacrifices and perils of a seven years' conflict for independence. So well known were the opinions and sympathies of Presbyterians (in favor of the cause of national independence) that they were subjected to all the evils the enemy was capable of visiting upon their persons or their property, and, wherever found, they were regarded and treated as arch-rebels."

While Presbyterians of these two nationalities, Scotch and Irish, in all the colonies of the middle and southern parts of the country, where they had settled in large numbers, were wonderfully harmonious and united in support of the cause, the honor of taking the initiative in a formal and public declaration of independence and of separation from the British Crown must be accorded to the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians of Mechlenburg County, North Carolina. Their famous Declaration, now forming a memorable chapter in our history, was adopted by this "high-spirited people," assembled in convention at Charlotte, North Carolina, on the 20th of May, 1775, more than a year in advance of the Declaration of Independence of the Continental Congress. Nothing could be more significant and important than this action. It boldly renounced allegiance to the Crown, and unquestionably it had no inconsiderable influence in preparing the way for the decisive step taken by the Congress a year later.

Among the extraordinary and weighty deliverances of that earlier document stand the words, " We do hereby dissolve the political bonds which have connected us with the mother-country, and hereby absolve ourselves from all allegiance to the British Crown. We hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people, are, and of right ought to be, a sovereign and self-governing association under the control of no power than that of our God and the general government of the Congress, to the maintenance of which we solemnly pledge to each other our mutual co-operation and our lives, our fortunes and our most sacred honor."

The important document containing these resolutions was printed and widely spread in North Carolina, was also sent to the Congress in Philadelphia, to the governor of Georgia, and by him to England, where the original paper still exists in the British State-Paper Office. Any one can see the striking resemblance, both in spirit and in diction, between its utterances and those of the national Declaration of Independence of 1776. From this strong similarity and other circumstances some able writers maintained that Mr. Jefferson, who drafted the national Declaration, had before him this earlier declaration, and incorporated some of its admirable phraseology.

On this point Dr. Craighead says: "Owing to the remarkable coincidence of language, as well as the many phrases common both to the Mechlenburg and the national declaration, the question has arisen which had precedence in point of time. However this may be decided, or whether they both were not indebted to some common source, such as the National Covenants of Scotland and England, it is certain that the Presbyterians of Mechlenburg were in advance of Congress, and in advance of the rest of the country, in proclaiming `the inherent and inalienable rights of man,' and that the historian Bancroft was right in stating that `the first voice publicly raised in America to dissolve all connection with Great Britain came from the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians.'"

But in taking this early and decided stand in favor of civil and religious freedom it is unquestionable as a great historic fact that these Presbyterians of Mechlenburg were but fair representatives of the whole Presbyterian Church of all the colonies, who, as the opening conflict soon demonstrated, were quick to follow this heroic example of patriotic devotion to principle and to the cause of the country. How could they do otherwise, when they saw at a glance that it was but the embodiment of their own deepest convictions —that the struggle for liberty on this new soil was but a renewal of the struggle of those eternal principles of truth and justice for which their noble Presbyterian ancestors had so long contended in Scotland and the North of Ireland?


Return to Book Contents Page

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page