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.
Glenora Single Malt Whisky

Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.
Scottish Review

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

The Scotch-Irish in America
The Scotch-Irish of the South
By Hon. Wm. Wirt Henry, LL.D., of Virginia


Mr. President, Members of the Congress, Ladies and Gentlemen:— In obeying the call to take part in this celebration, I recognize the compliment paid the state from which I come, a state so rich in historic memories, and whose history has been so interwoven with that of the people in whose honor we have met, that her greatness may be said to have been the outgrowth of their sterling qualities, rather than of any other portion of her population.

In the name of Virginia, the mother of states and of statesmen, I salute you, and bid you God-speed in gathering up and preserving the records and traditions of the noble race which has ever been foremost in the march of Christian civilization.

The history of the human race in its progress along the path of civilization is tilled with the migrations of the more vigorous races or nations, who have left their native lauds to seize and occupy the countries possessed by inferior or degenerate populations. Sometimes, these migrations have been of nations, as was that of the Israelites, but generally they have been simply colonies, which have preserved for a longer or shorter time their connection with or dependence upon the mother countries. Among the nations of antiquity, the Greeks and Romans were most distinguished for their spirit of colonization, and to this was due, in great measure, the wonderful influence they severally exerted. But of all the race movements, that which has most affected the history of the world has been the colonization and subsequent occupation of North America by the English-speaking people, and, among these, none can claim just precedence over the Scotch-Irish, whom we are met this day to honor.

The vain efforts of the civil power to exterminate early Christianity by fire and sword were followed by its embrace, under the Emperor Constantine, in the fourth century. The adulterous union which ensued was more disastrous to the pure religion of Christ than persecution. The one purified, but the other corrupted it. From it followed a debasement of both church and state, and a long reign of civil and religious tyranny. The face of the divine author of civil and religious liberty seemed veiled, and the dark ages of the world followed, in which human rights seemed hopelessly enchained by priest and king. But liberty, like truth—

"Though crushed to earth, will rise again,
The eternal years of God are hers."

Finally, after a thousand years of darkness, the light of the approaching day began to empurple the horizon. The fifteenth century witnessed the preparation for the coming reformation in the invention of movable type, the revival of letters, and the discovery of America, destined to be the great field for the development of civil and religious liberty, and the asylum of the oppressed.

The sixteenth century was resplendent with the light of reformed Christianity, but, as at the first, it derived much of its brilliancy from the sparks struck by the rough hand of persecution.

The claim of Spain to America was based upon its discovery by Columbus, and the grant of Pope Alexander VI. These so-called muniments of title were fortified by explorations and settlements. From these last Spain derived immense riches, and became the most powerful nation of Europe. But her wealth was devoted to the destruction of the reformed faith, which, kindled in Germany by Luther, was spreading rapidly over the continent. But God, who restrains the wrath of man and makes the remainder thereof to praise him, brought good out of the evil designed.

The refusal of the pope to divorce the Spanish wife of Henry VIII. of England, caused that royal Blue Beard to separate his kingdom from the domination of the Catholic see, and to encourage its tendency to embrace the principles of the Reformation. The effort of the papacy to crush out the Reformation in France and the Netherlands led to the implantation in America of the Protestant English race.

Among the English who volunteered, in 1569, for the defense of the Protestant religion on the continent, was a youth of seventeen, who left Oxford and his studies to learn the art of war under Admiral Coligny and William the Silent. While thus engaged, he conceived a mortal hatred to Spain, and perceiving that her strength lay in her American possessions, he conceived the idea of wresting the New World from her by English colonization. This youth became the celebrated soldier, statesman, courtier, poet, historian, and philosopher, Sir Walter Raleigh. When, by his courage, he had won military renown, and by his address had won the favor of his great sovereign, Elizabeth, and wealth came with honor, he devoted it to the realization of his great design. His colony at Roanoke Island, planted in 1584, perished, indeed, because he was forced to neglect it to aid in the defense of England against the great Spanish Armada, designed to crush out Protestantism in that kingdom. But the inspiration of his genius did not die. The pusillanimous James, who succeeded his heroic mistress on the throne, cast him into the Tower, after the mockery of a trial for treason, and finally beheaded him, at the behest of the Spanish king. But if Catholic Spain compassed his death, it was not till he had struck that power a mortal blow, at Cadiz, on 21st June, 1596, in the destruction of her fleet and the capture of the city, a blow which marks the beginning of her decadence as a great power. Nor was he put to death till he had seen the beginning of the fulfillment of his prediction, that he should "live to see America an English nation." In his prison walls, he heard of, if he could not see, the departure of the little fleet which carried the English colony to Jamestown, in 1607; and before his execution, in 1618, Virginia had become a vigorous colony under the London Company, which had succeeded to his charter rights.

The planting of that colony marks a most important era in the history of the world. It was the beginning of the system of English colonization, which has belted the earth, and has made the inhabitants of the little British Isles the greatest power in the world. From that feeble germ, preserved from destruction by an Indian maiden, has been developed an English nation which controls the continent of North America, and, within three hundred years, has become one among the foremost nations of the earth. Had not Pocahontas thrown herself between the heroic Smith and the uplifted club raised for his execution, the feeble colony would have lost its protecting genius, and would, doubtless, have perished. Had it perished, the Latin nations, with imperialism in church and state, would, doubtless, have possessed the continent they already so largely occupied. What would have been the result we may see by looking upon Mexico, with her degenerate people and unstable government, permanent in nothing but in oppression and misrule.

But in the councils of heaven it had been determined that the tree of liberty should be planted in America, and should so flourish in its genial soil that it should fill the land and cast its benign influences over all the earth. For this great trust, but one people was fitted — the liberty-loving, the liberty-preserving Anglo-Saxon race. They came with English Protestantism, and English constitutional law, developed under Magna Charta by free Parliaments. In the keeping of that handful of men who landed at Jamestown in 1607, was the hope of America for free institutions.

But, as has been the history of liberty in all ages, its preservation here has cost a continuous struggle. Not only on American soil, but on European fields, the possession of America was the bone of contention between Catholic and Protestant powers for a century and a half. Finally, in 1763, Protestant England was left in possession of the continent east of the Mississippi, except the Floridas bordering the Gulf of Mexico. The hand of Providence had thus prepared the way for the great republic, soon to succeed the British power in all of its territory south of the lakes. In this preparation, as we look back at it now in the light of history, nothing is more striking than the training of the peoples for their great work of establishing free institutions in America. In the school of tyranny, they learned to value liberty.

The history of the English, the Dutch, and the French settlers, who united to found the United States, is of the deepest interest, exhibiting, as it does, the dealings of God in preparing a suitable population for this great republic, But on this occasion, our thoughts are turned to but one of the peoples to whom the world is indebted for the America of to-day, with all of its grand achievements in the past and its power for incalculable good in the future.

The kingdom of Scotland, first known as "Scotia Minor," was settled by the ancient race of Celts, who came over from Ireland, then known as "Scotia Major." But, in the course of time, this rude people were almost entirely supplanted by, when not commingled with, the sturdy race from the south of the Tweed, the admixture of the Norman and Saxon, with a slight infusion of Danish blood. Says Macaulay: "The population of Scotland, with the exception of the Celtic tribes, which were thinly scattered over the Hebrides and over the northern parts of the mountainous shires, was of the same blood with the population of England, and spoke a tongue which did not differ from the purest English more than the dialects of Somersetshire and Lancashire differ from each other."

The air and food north of the Tweed, and the Celtic infusion, as years rolled around, gave the distinguishing characteristics of the Scotch people, and intensified in them the noble traits of the English — stern integrity, high sense of duty, hatred of tyranny, and devotion to God.

Presbyterianism, after a long and bloody struggle with Roman-ism, was at last established on its soil, in the sixteenth century, under the leadership of that great man "who never feared the face of clay," the brave John Knox, who laid the foundations of a free and well-ordered church so broad and deep that Scotland has ever since remained Presbyterian to the core. When asked by Queen Mary, "Think you that subjects, having power, may resist their princes?" his memorable reply was, "If princes exceed their bounds, madam, no doubt they may be resisted even by power." This Froude styles " the creed of republics in its first hard form." It contained the germ of American liberty. His mantle fell on a worthy successor, Andrew Melville, who, in his noble rebuke to King James, proclaimed that principle of religious freedom which has ever been characteristic of the Scotch church, and which developed into the complete divorce of church and state in America.

Said he: "There are two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland. There is King James, the head of this commonwealth, and there is Christ Jesus, the king of the church, whose subject James the Sixth is, and of whose kingdom he is not a king, nor a lord, nor a head, but a member. We will yield to your place, and give you all due obedience. But again I say, you are not the head of the church."

Under the influence of general education and a pure Christianity, the Scotch character developed to the greatest excellency yet attained by civilization. Nothing has ever surpassed the peasant life described by Burns in "The Cotter's Saturday Night," or the Scottish lords and ladies pictured by the pen of Sir Walter Scott.

The effort of Catholic Spain, in the sixteenth century, to wrest the Emerald Isle from Great Britain, stimulated a series of rebellions, which were finally quelled toward the close of the reign of Elizabeth. Upon her successor was laid the task of pacifying the island. In September, 1607, four months after the settlement at Jamestown, the earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel, the great leaders in the Catholic rebellions, sailed from the beautiful Lough Swilly, on the northwest coast of Ireland, followed by thousands of their old companions in arms, and sought a new home on the continent. The day of their departure dates a new era in Irish history. They left large tracts of land in north Ireland unoccupied and forfeited to the crown, and these were parceled out among a body of Scotch and English, brought over for the purpose. The far greater number of these plantations were from the lower part of Scotland, and became known as "Scotch-Irish." Thus a new population was given to the north of Ireland, which has changed its history. The province of Ulster, with fewer natural advantages than either Minister, Leinster, or Connaught, became the most prosperous, industrious, and law-abiding of all Ireland. Indeed, the difference between Scotland and Spain is not greater than between Ulster and her sister counties, even to this day.

But the Protestant population thus transplanted to the north of Ireland was destined to suffer many and bloody persecutions, culminating in the world-renowned siege of Londonderry, in the reign of James II., the unparalleled defense of which saved Protestantism in the island, and enabled William of Orange to secure his throne. Tempered by these, the iron in the Scotch character became finest steel. During the reign of William they had rest, but the accession of Anne, "the good Queen Anne," as she is often called, was the occasion of the renewal of the persecution of the Presbyterians. In 1704, the test-oath was imposed, by which every one in public employment was required to profess English prelacy. It was intended to suppress Popery, but was used by the Episcopal bishops to check Presbyterianism. To this was added burdensome restraints on their commerce, and extortionate rents from their landlords, resulting in what is known as the Antrim evictions. There had been occasional emigrations from the north of Ireland from the plantation of the Scotch, and one of the ministers sent over in 1683, Francis Makemie, had organized on the eastern shore of Maryland and in the adjoining counties of Virginia the first Presbyterian churches in America, But in the early part of the eighteenth century the great movement began which transported so large a portion of the Scotch-Irish into the American colonies, and, through their influence, shaped in a great measure the destinies of America. Says the historian Froude: "In the two years which followed the Antrim evictions, thirty thousand Protestants left Ulster for a land where there was no legal robbery, and where those who sowed the seed could reap the harvest." Alarmed by the depletion of the Protestant population, the Toleration Act was passed, and by it, and further promises of relief, the tide of emigration was checked for a brief period. In 1728, however, it began anew, and from 1729 to 1750, it was estimated that " about twelve thousand came annually from Ulster to America." So many had settled in Pennsylvania before 1729 that James Logan, the Quaker president of that colony, expressed his fear that they would become proprietors of the province.

These emigrants brought with them and retained in their new homes distinctive characteristics. These may be summed up as follows:

1. They were Presbyterians in their religion and church government.

2. They were loyal to the conceded authority of the king; but they considered him bound, as well as themselves, by the engagements of "the Solemn League and Covenant," entered into in 1643 by the Westminster Assembly and Parliament on the one side and the Scottish nation on the other, and adopted by the Presbyterians of Ireland in 1644, pledging the support of the reformation and of the liberties of the kingdoms.

3. They claimed the right to choose their own ministers, untrammeled by the civil powers.

4. They practiced strict discipline in morals, and gave full instruction to their youth in common schools and academies, and in teaching them the Bible, and that wonderful summary of its doctrine contained in the Westminster Assembly's Catechism.

5. They combined, in a remarkable degree, acuteness of intellect, firmness of purpose, and conscientious devotion to duty.

It has been well said of them by one who had watched their development in spite of opposition: "Man might as well attempt to lay his interdict upon the coming forth of vegetation, when the powers of nature are warmed and refreshed by genial influences from above, as to arrest the progress of such a people in knowledge and improvement."

This bold stream of emigrants struck the American continent mainly on the eastern border of Pennsylvania, and was, in great measure, turned southward through Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, reaching and crossing the Savannah river. It was met at various points by counter streams of the same race, which had entered the continent through the seaports of the Carolinas and Georgia. Turning westward, the combined flood overflowed the mountains and covered the rich valley of the Mississippi beyond. As the Puritans or Round-heads of the south, but freed from fanaticism, they gave tone to its people and direction to its history.

It is of these that it is my privilege to speak to-day.

Leaving Pennsylvania, southward, the first colony into which this race entered was Maryland. Their settlements were principally in the narrow slip which constitutes the western portion, but we find them in every part of the colony. It was due to them that Maryland was among the foremost of the colonies in the Indian wars and in the Revolution. Of this blood was her great Revolutionary leader, Charles Carroll, and that model soldier, John Eager Howard. He seized the critical moment with his brave Maryland line at the battle of Cowpens, and turned the fortunes of the day, and was equally deserving of success, but less fortunate, at Guilford and Eutaw. Of him General Greene wrote, introducing him to a friend: "This will be handed to you by Colonel Howard, as good an officer as the world affords. He has great ability and the best disposition to promote the service. My own obligations to him are great — the public's still more so. He deserves a statue of gold no less than the Roman and Grecian heroes."

It was to this population, and to the Puritans driven from Virginia to Maryland, that Protestantism is indebted for the rescue of the colony from the Romish faith; and in all that has made the state so conspicuous on the page of American history, we find traces of the Scotch-Irish.

Proceeding southward, we next enter the great colony of Virginia, and here we can more clearly discover the effect of this people upon her destiny.

Traces of the Scotch-Irish were found in Virginia east of the Blue Ridge in the latter part of the seventeenth century, and early in the eighteenth they were found in Albemarle, Nelson, Campbell, Prince Edward, and Charlotte counties, and along the great valley west of the Blue Ridge. But it was after the year 1738 that they entered that valley in great numbers, and, with the exception of some German settlements near its lower end, completely possessed it from the Pennsylvania to the North Carolina line. In that year the Synod of Philadelphia (upon the application of John Caldwell, a Scotch-Irish elder, afterward settled at Cub creek, in Charlotte county, Va., and the grandfather of the great statesman, John Caldwell Calhoun), sent a commissioner to the governor of Virginia with a proposal to people the valley with Presbyterians, who should hold the western frontier against the Indians and thus protect the colony, upon one condition only, "that they be allowed the liberty of their consciences and of worshiping God in a way agreeable to the principles of their education." To this Governor Gooch, himself a Scotchman, returned a gracious answer and a promise of the protection afforded by the Act of Toleration.

With this agreement the territory west of the Blue Ridge was soon filled with a Scotch-Irish population, who were glad to defend the cavaliers of the colony from the implacable savage as the price of civil and religious liberty. Living in continual danger from the treacherous foe, their faithful rifles were their constant companions, and were seen even in the school-houses and the churches which invariably marked their settlements. In the pulpit the trusty rifle was as convenient to the preacher as the Bible. With such a training, no wonder that this noble race soon demonstrated their right to control the destinies of their colony, in peace as well as in war. As the country filled up, new counties were set off, and the delegates from these and from the Piedmont counties of kindred blood, together known as back or upper counties, began to control the House of Burgesses. In the wars which preceded the Revolution, the soldiers of Virginia were mainly drawn from this section. They suffered defeat with Washington at the Meadows, and with Braddock at Fort Duquesne, and, by their firmness, saved the remnant of that rash general's army. They won the signal victory at Point Pleasant, in 1774, which struck terror into the Indian tribes across the Ohio, and was the prelude to the War of Independence, for which the officers engaged in that battle at once offered their swords.

In 1765, when England, having driven the French from North America, began her oppressive measures against her own colonies, and, regardless of their chartered rights and the English constitution, imposed a stamp tax upon them through a Parliament in which they had no representation, it was the youthful son of a Scotchman who introduced the resolutions into the Virginia House of Burgesses denying the validity of the act, which aroused the continent and "set in motion the ball of the Revolution." And it was Scotch-Irish votes that secured their passage, against the combined efforts of the old leaders of the House. In the long struggle which followed, in which, step by step, Virginia led her sister colonies along the path to independence, it was the same bold leader, with his Scotch-Irish cohorts, that directed her steps. Says Mr. Jefferson, speaking of Mr. Henry to Daniel Webster: "He was far before us all in maintaining the spirit of the Revolution. His influence was most extensive with the members from the upper counties, and his boldness and their votes overawed and controlled the more cool or the more timid aristocratic gentlemen of the lower part of the state. After all, it must be allowed that he was our leader in the measures of the Revolution in Virginia."

At the first call of Congress for soldiers to defend the town of Boston, Daniel Morgan, of Scotch-Irish blood, at once raised a company of riflemen among his people in the lower valley of Virginia, and, by a forced march of six hundred miles, reached the beleaguered town in three weeks. His company was but the advance of a steady supply of soldiers from the same hardy race, which, whether in the continental line or the militia ranks, made glorious the name of Virginia in the seven years' struggle which ensued. To the soldiers of this blood, it was given to turn the tide of war at more than one critical period in the desperate struggle of our fathers for freedom. It is proper, on this occasion, to recall some of these instances. Morgan, after distinguishing himself in the ill-fated expedition against Canada, was taken prisoner before Quebec. Upon his exchange, he returned to the valley of Virginia, and raised a corps of riflemen from among its Scotch-Irish people. Joining Washington, he was sent by him to aid Gates in meeting the British invasion from Canada under Burgoyne. The battle of Saratoga, 7th October, 1777, which followed, is included, with reason, by Creasy, in his volume entitled "The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World," each one of which changed the current of human history. Before that great victor}', neither in England nor on the continent was it believed that the American patriots would be able to maintain the struggle upon which they had entered. France, the hereditary enemy of England, was anxious to assist the revolted colonies, but only in case that they showed themselves capable of continuing the conflict, which they had not yet done. The British campaign for 1777 was well laid. It consisted of a movement from Canada under Burgoyne, to be met by a strong force from New York under Clinton, and the combined army to isolate and conquer New England. The American army, under Gates, was between Burgoyne and Clinton, and must needs engage and overcome Burgoyne before the arrival of Clinton, or be itself crushed between the two approaching armies.

On the memorable 7th October, the forces of Gates and Burgoyne met, the right wing of the British, and the flower of the army, being led by the brave Scotchman, General Simon Frazer, the idol of the army. On the American left, was the equally brave Scotch-Irishman, Colonel Morgan, with his regiment of sharpshooters, every one of whom was a marksman. In the desperate battle which followed, Morgan noticed that a British officer, mounted on an iron-gray charger, was most active in the fight, and that wherever he rode he turned the tide of battle. It was the gallant Frazer. Morgan called to Timothy Murphy, one of the best shots in his regiment, and pointing to the British officer on the iron-gray horse, he said, "Bring him down." At the crack of the faithful rifle, the British officer reeled in his saddle and fell. The forces he was leading at once became confused, and soon fell back. The crisis was passed, and the battle, upon which hung the fate of America, was won. In a few days, Burgoyne was forced to surrender his whole army. When introduced to Morgan, he grasped his hand and said: "Sir, you command the finest regiment in the world." The news of the victory produced an entire change in European policy. France at once acknowledged the independence of the American states, and entered into a treaty of alliance with them. War between her and England followed, and soon Spain and Holland joined in the conflict. With their aid, the American patriots were enabled to maintain the struggle four years longer, till finally England gave up the contest.

But during that four years, another critical period arrived, in which the stalwart Scotch-Irish soldiery, by one memorable battle, changed the face of the war.

Despairing of conquering the northern states with Washington to defend them, the British determined to attack from the sea, of which they were the masters, the southern states, and to subdue them in detail, striking first at Georgia, the weakest of them all. This work was committed to the celebrated Earl Cornwallis, and no one was more capable of executing the plan. He soon overran Georgia and South Carolina, having destroyed two American armies sent to check him — the first under General Howe, and the second under General Gates. He at once pushed northward, before another army could be organized to meet him, intending to overrun North Carolina and Virginia in rapid succession. Indeed, General Leslie was already in Virginia, ready to join him on his arrival, and, in the meantime, was to keep that state, if possible, from sending aid to her southern sisters.

In his movement northward, Cornwallis divided his army, and sent a portion of it, under Colonel Patrick Ferguson, an accomplished Scotch officer, along the route which bordered the mountains of Carolina. His force threatened the Scotch-Irish settlements west of the mountains of North Carolina and in the south-west portion of Virginia. These rapidly organized a volunteer force, under Colonels Sevier, Shelby, McDowell, and Campbell, which rendezvoused at the Watauga settlement, in what is now East Tennessee. These were afterward joined by some of their race from the Carolinas, under Colonels Williams and Cleaveland. The veteran Colonel William Campbell, from Virginia, was chosen as commander, and crossing the mountains rapidly, they threw themselves in the path of Ferguson. The battle of King's Mountain followed, on the 7th October, 1880, in which the entire British force was killed or captured. Cornwallis was forced to come to a halt, fall back, and wait for reinforcements, which were drawn from the British force in Virginia. Before he recovered from the blow, General Greene, who had been sent by Washington to organize and lead another army against the invaders, was able to accomplish the task, and afterward, by his masterly movements, to so cripple the British general that he was forced to abandon his conquests and betake himself by another route to Virginia, there to be captured by the combined American and French armies. Every subsequent event which led in logical succession to the surrender of the British army at Yorktown and the close of the Revolution, may be traced to that memorable battle at King's Mountain, won by an army composed almost entirely of Scotch-Irish volunteers, who had not waited for the call of their government, but, upon the rumored approach of danger, had sprung to arms and hastened to meet it. In the subsequent battles of Cowpens and Guilford, we find the same Scotch-Irish element following up the work so gloriously begun at King's Mountain.

But not alone in these and other battles of the Revolution did the Scotch-Irish of Virginia lay their country under never-ending obligations. To them is due the magnificent domain over which the original thirteen states have stretched in their expansion westward.

By the treaty of Paris, in 1763, the western boundary of the American colonies was fixed at the Mississippi river. England afterward extended the Canadian government over the territory west of the Ohio and south of the lakes, and established a chain of forts reaching from the lakes to the Mississippi, above the mouth of the Ohio. This territory was embraced in the charter of Virginia, and she distinctly claimed it in 1776, on assuming state sovereignty. But it was held by British troops, who at the same time continually instigated the Indians to murderous raids on the white settlements south and east of the Ohio. Early in 1778, Governor Henry commissioned Colonel George Rogers Clark to lead a secret expedition against these north-western forts, with a view of occupying, with Virginia troops, the territory she claimed. Clark collected his men from the Scotch-Irish inhabitants west of the Blue Ridge, in what was then Augusta county, and from the district of Kentucky, then beginning to be peopled by the same race. In a campaign which John Randolph has aptly compared to that of Hannibal in Italy, he possessed himself of the British posts south of the lakes, capturing Hamilton, the British governor, and securing to Virginia the entire northwest.

This campaign, unsurpassed in daring, and unequaled in results by any recorded in history, was conducted with less than two hundred Virginia militia. The noble commonwealth, which had taken the first steps looking to Union, finding that some of the states were reluctant to sign the confederation while Virginia held so large a territory, with unequaled generosity and patriotism ceded her entire conquest to the United States, and thus secured the Union. When England and Spain in succession attempted to deprive the American states of this magnificent domain during the negotiations for peace, the American commissioners, under direction of Congress, relied on the conquest of Clark and subsequent occupation of Virginia.

The rule of utl possidetis prevailed, and independence was acknowledged by Great Britain, with the Mississippi as our western border. Our extension to the Pacific has been only the logical result. Had not that Scotch-Irish band of heroes wrested from the British Lion his western prey, the Alleghanies or the Ohio would have been our western border, and the original thirteen states skirting the Atlantic would, in all probability, have been our territorial limits to-day.

No one knew better than Washington the sterling qualities of this race, and he paid it the highest compliment ever paid to any people when, in the darkest moment of the Revolution, he said, that if all others failed him, he would plant his standard on the Blue Ridge of Virginia, rally around him the people of the valley, and make his last stand for the liberties of America.

Nor has the virtue in the blood lost its power of making heroes to this day. It was from this people that the immortal Stonewall Jackson sprang, and from them he drew the troops that followed him, and excited for themselves and for their great commander the admiration of the world.

But, however glorious in war, this race in Virginia have won triumphs in the peaceful halls of legislation no less beneficial to humanity than any won on battle-fields. It was Scotch-Irish blood that moved the pen that wrote the Declaration of Independence, the first draft of the United States Constitution, and the divorce between church and state. The influence of these upon the history of the race is incalculable. The last has been justly described as the contribution of America to the science of government. Though claimed by the founder of Christianity and his early followers, religious liberty was never accorded to the Christian Church. The state claimed the right to control the religious beliefs of her citizens, and the claim was not relinquished when the Christian Church formed its unholy alliance with the state. The Reformers of the fifteenth century did not undertake to deny this power of the state over the church, but in their creeds appealed to the state to enforce the penalties pronounced by church courts. In Virginia we have seen there was a church establishment, and toleration was all that the Scotch-Irish could obtain in repayment for their protection of the western border.

In 1774, we find their Presbytery petitioning the House of Burgesses for as much freedom in religious matters as the British constitution afforded in secular matters. When two years afterward, the Virginia convention, after taking up independence for herself, and ordering it to be moved in Congress for America, engaged in forming, as a basis of government, a declaration of the rights of man, the greatest state paper ever written, the same voice that stirred the continent to resist the Stamp Act, moved to insert as one of the inalienable rights of man his right to worship his God according to the dictates of his conscience. Adopted into the Virginia Bill of Rights, it has been copied into every constitution in America. At the very next session of the Assembly, the same Presbytery, controlled by Scotch-Irish voices, sent a memorial written by a Scotch-Irish pen, held by Caleb "Wallace, enlarging upon the great principle embodied in the Bill of Rights, and showing its guarantee of perfect religious liberty. It was following in their wake that Jefferson afterward wrote his celebrated act for the establishment of religious liberty, which has effected the divorce of church and state, not only in Virginia, but throughout the Union, and whose principles seem destined to unfetter the Christian conscience throughout the world. Thus there was completed by the Scotch-Irish of Virginia, in 1776, the reformation commenced by Luther two hundred and fifty years before.

To this people Virginia is indebted also for her earliest educational institutions of high grade, except the royal college of William and Mary; and one of their number, Thomas Jefferson, was the founder of the State University.

In the year 1736, Henry McCullock, from the province of Ulster, obtained a grant of 64,000 acres in the present county of Duplin, North Carolina, and introduced upon it between three and four thousand of his Scotch-Irish countrymen from the north of Ireland. About the same time the Scotch began to occupy the lower Cape Fear, and after the defeat of the Pretender, at Culloden, in 1746, great numbers of Scotch Highlanders, who had adhered to his fortunes, emigrated to North Carolina, taking up their residence in the counties of Bladen, Cumberland, Robeson, Moore, Richmond, Harnett, Chatham, and Ansom, and giving the Scotch the ascendancy in the upper Cape Fear region. In the meantime, the current of emigration to America from Ulster had become a bold stream, entering the continent mainly at Philadelphia and flowing westward. Braddock's defeat rendering border life dangerous, many of the new-comers turned southward, moving parallel to the Blue Ridge through Virginia and North Carolina until they met the other stream of their countrymen which was moving upward from Charleston along the banks of the Santee, Wateree, Broad, Pacolet, Ennoree, and Saluda, and this emigration to North Carolina continued for forty years, till checked by the Revolution.

It is not known with certainty when the Scotch-Irish were first introduced into the country between the Dan and the Catawba, but they were found in the counties of Granville, Orange, Rowan, and Mecklenburg previous to 1750. So great was the proportion of this race in North Carolina before the Revolution that they may be said to have given direction to her history. With their advent begins the educational history of the state, and during the eighteenth century that history is inseparably connected with the Presbyterian Church. One name stands out pre-eminent in this history. It is that of the Scotch-Irish minister, David Caldwell, whose classical school, established in 1767 near Greensborough, was the Eton of the south. But besides classical schools they established academies and colleges. Queen's College, located in the town of Charlotte, in Mecklenburg county, was chartered in 1770, but its charter was repealed by George III., of whom it was said that "no compliments to his queen could render Whigs in politics and Presbyterians in religion acceptable to him." It continued, however, to flourish under the royal frown, and was incorporated in 1777 as "Liberty Hall." But the Revolution closed its doors, and Cornwallis first desecrated it by quartering his troops within it, and afterward burned the buildings. Davidson College, in the northern part of Mecklenburg county, established by the Presbyterians long after the war, may be considered the successor of this venerable institution, which was sacrificed upon the altar of patriotism.

It was to the Scotch-Irish delegates that is due the credit of inserting in the first constitution of the state the provision for a state university, which has proved such a blessing to the state and to the South.

In North Carolina, as in Virginia, this race was earliest in claiming the rights of freemen against British oppression. Indeed, four years before the battle of Lexington, Scotch-Irish blood was shed in North Carolina by a royal governor, simply because the people dared ask redress for tyrannous abuses. Governor Tryon, instigated by one of the worst of men, David Fanning, first caused the complainants to be indicted by a packed grand jury, and then marched against them with an army, and, treating them as outlaws, shot down and hung some thirty of them. It is know in history as the War of the Regulators. Says Bancroft concerning it: " The blood of rebels against oppression was first shed among the settlers on the branches of the Cape Fear river." Says Alexander, speaking of this engagement on the Alamance, 16th May, 1771: "These Regulators were not adventurers, but the sturdy, patriotic members of three Presbyterian congregations, all of them having as their pastors graduates of Princeton. Mr. Caldwell was one of them, and, on the morning of the battle, was on the ground, going from one side to the other, endeavoring to prevent the catastrophe."

As a result of this merciless attack upon a patriotic people, they left their homes, crossed the mountains to the west, and laid the foundation on the Watauga of the State of Tennessee.

While the Scotch, who had emigrated to North Carolina after the battle of Culloden, considered themselves bound by their oath of allegiance to side with the king in the American Revolution, and were generally Tories, the Scotch-Irish of that colony were among the foremost of the patriots. In no locality was their zeal more conspicuous than in the counties of Mecklenburg and Rowan. Tarleton, in his memoirs, bears testimony to the fact that those counties were the most rebellious in America, and Cornwallis designated Mecklenburg county as "the hornet's nest of the Revolution."

When the people of this county heard of the battle of Lexington, they did not wait for others to move with them, but at once assumed the powers of government.

It is due to her Scotch-Irish people, also, that North Carolina is entitled to the honor of being the first colony that authorized her delegates in Congress to vote for independence.

Dr. David Ramsey, the historian of South Carolina, after giving the various sources of the population of that colony from its first settlement, and according full prominence to the Huguenots, adds: "Besides foreign Protestants, several persons from England and Scotland resorted to Carolina after the peace of 1763. But of all other countries, none has furnished the province with so many inhabitants as Ireland. Scarce a ship sailed from any of its ports for Charleston that was not crowded with men, women, and children." . . . "About this time, above a thousand families from the northward (Pennsylvania and Virginia), with their effects, in the space of one year, resorted to South Carolina, driving their cattle, hogs, and horses overland before them. Lands were allotted them in its western woods, which soon became the most populous parts of the province."

These were Scotch-Irish, and it is to them he refers later when he says: "The Scotch and the Dutch were the most useful emigrants. They both brought with them, and generally retained in an eminent degree, the virtues of industry and economy, so peculiarly necessary in a new country. To the former, South Carolina is indebted for much of its early literature. A great proportion of its physicians, clergymen, lawyers, and schoolmasters were from North Britain."

These settlers in the western part of the colony were long without the protection of law administered through judicial tribunals, and, of necessity, were forced to band themselves together to punish crime, of which the most frequent and irritating was horse-stealing. Against them, the royal governor, Montague, sent a man named Scouil, in 1764, with an army, and with great difficulty a civil war was averted. Fortunately, the establishment of courts, in 1769, pacified the country. The division thus created was not obliterated, but reappeared in 1775, on the breaking out of the Revolution, when the Regulators, as they were called, became Whigs, and the Scouilites, as the other party had been called, became Tories. Before and during the Revolution, the Scotch-Irish in Western South Carolina, as in North Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, were the defenders of the border against the hostile Indian tribes beyond.

But this did not relieve them of the duty of fighting the British coming from the Atlantic seaboard.

In the terrible fate that overtook South Carolina during that struggle, when Cornwallis rode rough-shod over the devoted state, it was to her noblest son, Governor John Rutledge, a Scotch-Irishman, that the destinies of the state were committed. Unable to meet the haughty invader in the open field, the little bands of patriots who survived the trying ordeal, gathered in the east around the standard of Marion, and in the north and west around the standards of Sumter and Pickens. These devoted men kept alive the flame of liberty in the swamps of South Carolina, while the British tyrant was stamping it out where-ever its flicker could be discovered. When the brutal oppressor believed it was entirely extinguished, it burst forth in electric flashes, striking and withering the proud invader.

Through the veins of these incomparable leaders and their brave troops Scotch-Irish blood coursed, and gave nerve to the arms which struck for liberty.

Of the famous Andrew Pickens we have a pen-picture by his brilliant companion in arms, Light-horse Harry Lee, which is so typical of a Scotch-Irishman, that it may be well reproduced here.

"He was a sincere believer in the Christian religion, and a devout observer of the Presbyterian form of worship. His frame was sinewy and active; his habits were simple, temperate, and industrious. His characteristics were taciturnity and truth, prudence and decision, modesty and courage, disinterestedness and public spirit."

In South Carolina, as elsewhere, this people provided schools and churches for their communities, and have been foremost in advancing the interests of the state.

Georgia was the youngest of the old thirteen colonies, but, like those north of her, she was indebted to this race for some of her best population. As early as 1735 a colony from the Highlands of Scotland were conducted to the mouth of the Savannah river, and thence southward to New Inverness, on the Alatamaha river. When told on the way that the Spaniards would shoot them from their fort near by their new home, they replied, "Why, then, we will beat them out of their fort, and shall have houses ready built to live in." This valiant spirit never flagged in the subsequent war with Spain and the Revolution, and it is hard to estimate the services to Georgia rendered by the McKays and Mclntoshes who came from this settlement.

Before the Revolution, however, emigration from the Carolinas set in toward North Georgia, bringing many Scotch-Irish families. Governor Gilmer, in 1855, describes the community they formed, with all the privations and simple enjoyments of their life, and his description is applicable to all their new settlements. Among other things, he says: "The pretty girls were dressed in striped and checked cotton cloth, spun and woven with their own hands, and their sweethearts in sumach and walnut dyed stuff, made by their mothers. Courting was done when riding to meeting on Sunday, and walking to the spring when there. Newly married couples went to see the old folks on Saturday, and carried home on Sunday evening what they could spare. There was no ennui among the women for want of something to do. If there had been leisure to read, there were but few books for the indulgence. Hollow trees supplied cradles for babies. The fine voices which are now heard in the pulpit and at the bar from the first native Georgians began their practice by crying when infants for want of good nursing."

These settlers were of the kindred of Andrew Jackson and Thomas H. Benton.

Besides these, the Scotch-Irish who had followed the Alleghanies had not ceased their southward movements until, crossing the Savannah river, they had entered the northern portion of Georgia.

Later, and after the Revolution, some of the Virginians who had served in Georgia, notably General George Mathews, induced a colony from Albemarle and the valley of Virginia to move to the north of Georgia, and they settled along the Broad river. Among these were, of course, a strong infusion of Scotch-Irish blood.

The subsequent prosperity of Georgia is attributed in large measure to these people and their descendants by Governor Gilmer. From them, he tells us, the blood was scattered throughout the southern and southwestern states.

A race which so completely filled the western side of the old colonies was naturally that which would soonest occupy the country still further westward, extending to the Mississippi.

This came to pass. As the Scotch-Irish increased, they pressed upon the Indians, driving them westward until, early in the nineteenth century, but few of the native tribes were left east of the great river. Only a short notice of these new states in the southern valley of the Mississippi need be given.

Kentucky was settled by the Scotch-Irish of Virginia and North Carolina. Thomas Walker, of Virginia, first explored it in 1747 ; John Finley, of North Carolina, followed in 1767 ; and afterward, in 1769, he, with Daniel Boone, John Stewart, and three others, all from the same colony, penetrated to the Kentucky river. By the year 1773, the whites began to take up lands, and afterward there was a steady stream of emigrants, almost entirely from the valley and southwest Virginia, and, of course, of Scotch-Irish blood. A roll of the Presbytery in 1802 shows a list of forty-three names, nearly every one of which is Scotch-Irish, and the families that first constituted the county of Kentucky can nearly every one be found in a history of the Virginia valley. Often the transplanting gave additional vigor to the scions, and the Clarks, the Browns, the Breckenridges, the Campbells, the Bullitts, the Wallaces, the Robertsons, the Prestons, the Todds, the Rices, the McKees, and others, rose to greater eminence in Kentucky than had ever been attained in Virginia.

The Indian name, Can-tuck-kee, meaning "the dark and bloody ground," was given to it by the savages, because it was the hunting-ground on which the northern and southern tribes met in constant conflict. The whites found it well deserved the name, as the Indians ceased to fight each other in their common hostility to the settlers, against whom they waged continuous war. The prediction of the Cherokee chief to Boone at the treaty at Watauga, ceding the territory to Henderson and his associates, was fully verified. "Brother," said he, "we have given you a fine land, but I believe you will have much trouble in settling it." Any other race would probably have abandoned the effort, or rather never undertaken it. No border annals teem with more thrilling incidents or heroic exploits than those of the Kentucky hunters, whose very name at length struck terror into the heart of the stoutest savage. The people developed in the midst of constant danger into a bold, independent, and magnanimous community.

So thoroughly was Kentucky settled by this race that it may be called a Scotch-Irish state.

The state of Tennessee was the daughter of North Carolina, and was first settled by the Scotch-Irish driven over the mountains by the cruel war of the Regulators, as we have seen. Upon no field has this remarkable race shown to greater advantage than upon the soil of Tennessee, but as they have been assigned to the special care of one more competent than myself for the task, I will not trench upon his domain.

Mississippi and Alabama, which were cleared of the dominion of the warlike Creeks early in the century by Andrew Jackson and his band of Tennesseans and Georgians, were filled up by settlers from the adjacent states, and these were necessarily largely Scotch-Irish in their descent. And so after the Louisiana purchase in 1803, Louisiana, Missouri, and Arkansas were successively brought into the Union, with a population drawn in great measure from the nearest Scotch-Irish communities. Florida also, when acquired from the Spaniards, received her quota of this people. But among all these new states a strong infusion is found of Virginia blood, drawn in large measure from Scotch-Irish veins.

The last and the largest of the southern states which entered the Union was Texas, and we are indebted to a Scotch-Irishman from the Virginia valley for this principality.

Samuel Houston, a native of Rockbridge county, Virginia, saved Texas from Mexican dominion by his celebrated victory over Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto, 21st April, 1836. He became the first president of the independent State of Texas on 22d October following, and, during his term, took the first step toward its annexation to the United States, which was accomplished in 1845. In the meantime, a large and constantly increasing population from the southern states was pouring into its borders, which, of course, was largely Scotch-Irish in its origin.

In the wars which succeeded the Revolution, the United States have been greatly indebted to the Scotch-Irish of the South for their renown in arms.

It was with troops of this blood that the Scotch-Irish General Andrew Jackson, in 1814, broke the power of the Creek Indians in Alabama, drove the British from Florida, and defeated Wellington's soldiers, under his brother-in-law, Sir Edward Packenham, at New Orleans. In the war with Mexico, no fighting was surpassed by that of southern volunteers, under the leadership of the Scotch-Irishman, Zachary Taylor.

In the war between the states, time would fail me to even mention the Scotch-Irish heroes who followed the Confederate flag.

I have thus hastily glanced at the diffusion of the Scotch-Irish over the southern states, and, in doing so, it has become apparent that a history of this race would be a history of the southern states. Certainly, as to the South, they are bone of its bone and flesh of its flesh.

The task would be almost endless to simply call the names of this people in the South who have distinguished themselves in the annals of their country. Yet some rise before me, whose names demand utterance in any mention of their people — names which the world will not willingly let die.

Among the statesmen they have given to the world are Jefferson, Madison, Calhoun, Benton.

Among the orators, Henry, Rutledge, Preston, McDuffie, Yancy.

Among the poets, the peerless Poe.

Among the jurists, Marshall, Campbell, Robertson.

Among the divines, Waddell, the Alexanders, Breckinridge, Robinson, Plummer, Hoge, Hawks, Fuller, McKendree.

Among the physicians, McDowell, Sims, McGuire.

Among the inventors, McCormick.

Among the soldiers, Lee, the Jacksons, the Johnstons, Stuart.

Among the sailors, Paul Jones, Buchanan.

Presidents from the South, seven — Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Taylor, Polk, Johnson.

Great as this race has been in victorious war and prosperity, it has been greater in defeat and adversity. Struck down at Appomattox, the South lay helpless at the feet of the conqueror, pale from loss of her best blood, impoverished by the hand of the despoiler, and held in the embrace of an inferior race. Her prostrate form seemed to be in the grasp of death. It was then I heard the clear voice of one of her greatest orators repeating over her the impassioned words of Romeo over the body of Juliet—

"Death that hath sucked the honey of thy breath,
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty.
Thou art not conquered; beauty's ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
And death's pale flag is not advanced there."

It was as the voice of prophecy recalling her to consciousness. The indomitable Scotch-Irish blood still coursed in her veins. She arose, not like Juliet, to suicidal despair, but to renewed hope and a new life, with fresh strength drawn from the embrace of mother earth. With head erect and her eyes fixed on God, she commenced a new career. A quarter of a century has not passed, and we see her to-day, her pallor replaced by the crimson tide of life, and her every motion instinct with the genius of progress. Generous nature whispers her secrets, decks her with richest treasures, and points her the way to prosperity. With unswerving faith in the God of her fathers, and unfaltering steps, she presses onward and upward, her right hand lifting to the kiss of heaven her spotless banner, displaying the emblazoned legend, Sic itur ad astra.


Return to Book Index Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast