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The Scotch-Irish in America
The Second Congress


By A. C. Floyd.

The origin and history of the first Scotch-Irish Congress, held at Columbia, Tennessee, in May, 1889, were briefly sketched in our initial volume published last year. It has been decided that each annual volume shall contain a similar account of the Congress held during the year of its publication; and it is in pursuance of this design that the following sketch of the second Congress has been written.

The first Congress was called and came together as a mass-meeting of Scotch-Irish people, and not as an organized body. Before its adjournment, however, the Scotch-Irish Society of America was formed, in order to carry out in a systematic manner the objects for which the Congress was assembled.

These objects were outlined in our first volume, but it may be interesting to repeat them here in more detail.

They may be conveniently grouped under four heads, all intimately connected, but more or less distinct—historical, educational, fraternal, and patriotic. Our first object is to collect materials for a complete history of the Scotch-Irish race—a work which, strange enough, has never before been undertaken. It is said that the Scotch-Irish have been too busy making history in deeds to take time for writing it in words. If this be true, it furnishes all the greater reason why they should now stop long enough to take stock of accumulated achievements. A perusal of this volume will alone be sufficient to convince the reader, if he has never taken thought of it before, how rich must be the inventory. To study the great historic forces which have molded the character of the Scotch-Irish people, and have shaped their career, to trace them from Scotland to Ireland, and from Ireland to all parts of the world, will be a subject of deepest interest to students of history. To an American, however, especially if he be of Scotch-Irish extraction, the record of the race in our own land will be found most attractive, for no other people have contributed so much to our greatness and prosperity. As a race their influence has not been properly recognized, but as individuals they have been known as leaders in every sphere of public and private life. The materials for the general history are to be gathered from the records of these typical men of the race. Their deeds have in some instances been recorded in biographies and histories, but the great multitude of them have been preserved only in the memory, and will soon be lost to the world, unless engraved on more enduring tablets. The reminiscences and traditions retained only as recollections with the old family papers, and relics preserved in thousands of households throughout our land, furnish rich stores from which to draw numerous sketches worthy of being written and read.

It is the purpose of our Society to stimulate the writing of such sketches, and afterward to gather them into our archives, together with all relics and other data that can be obtained. In addition to this historical matter bearing on the individuals, families, and communities of the race, eminent scholars will be invited to write on particular phases of Scotch-Irish character and achievement. Branch organizations, co-operating with us, will also assist in gathering the desired materials.

Our Society will publish a series of annual volumes, called "The Scotch-Irish in America." Each volume will contain the proceedings and addresses of the preceding yearly Congress, with such other matter as shall be selected from the archives.

From our annual volumes, and from the materials gathered in our archives, a complete history of the race will in due course of time be written.

The educational feature of our Society is the natural outgrowth of our historical work. No argument is necessary to convince the intelligent of the value derived from studying the lives and characters of great and good men. Nothing so fires the ambition of youth or so strengthens the determination of manhood.

Books of this character often affect us unconsciously, and we seldom realize the strength of their influence. Their value as stimulants to nobler deeds is less known and less utilized than any other moral agency of equal power. They should be placed in the hands of every child, not in the usual aimless way, but with intelligent method and as a systematic part of his education.

But while the elevating tendency of such general historical and biographical reading is very great, it is not equal to the benefit derived from a close acquaintance with the heroic deeds of our own race and kindred. In studying the history of the Scotch-Irish people, we are familiarizing ourselves with the stern integrity, the persistent purpose, the indomitable courage, the well calculated enterprise, the untiring industry, the defiance of tyranny, the strong religious convictions, and the patriotic devotion which are characteristic qualities of the race; and which, unconsciously, it may be, mold and shape our lives.

The effect becomes proportionately stronger as we pass from the history of the race to that of the family, and culminates with that of our nearest kindred. The praiseworthy admiration of Americans for self-made men has led them to dispise pride of ancestry too indiscriminately.

Determination to sustain the family reputation, and to emulate the virtues of honored ancestors, is the strongest possible incentive to laudable endeavor.

Our society will not only accomplish good by stimulating general historical inquiry, but will give the work the relish of personal interest by promoting among its members research into the records of their own families and kindred. The effect will be intensified by the very labor necessary in the preparation of the desired sketches. The records themselves will be handed down to posterity, who will cherish them with pride and profit by their lessons.

Our third object is to promote fraternal feeling among our members.

The National Congress of our Society will meet annually in different sections of the country, and bring together the best representatives of the race from all over America. These gatherings will afford fine opportunities for visiting places of interest, for forming desirable acquaintances, and for delightful social intercourse. Branch organizations will contribute to the same result.

As a further means to the same end, each annual volume will contain a list of members, and the most important biographical facts in regard to each of them. In this way extensive correspondence will be developed, leading to the renewal of old acquaintanceship, the revival of family relations, and the discovery of valuable historical facts. The establishment of such cordial relations will not only result in much social pleasure and benefit, but will operate powerfully to eradicate sectional prejudice.

The deep-seated convictions and firmness of the Scotch-Irish is easily exaggerated into strong prejudice. They were the sternest foes in the late war, and have been slow to forget its enmities. The very qualities, however, which aroused and have kept alive this bitterness will make them the strongest friends when they come to know and understand each other better.

There are many reasons why their close alliance will contribute more than any other racial organization to the cohesive strength of American institutions. The five racial elements that have been most prominently identified with American achievements, from the foundation of our government, are the Puritan, the Dutch, the Cavalier, the Huguenot, and the Scotch-Irish. The Puritan and Dutch have been principally confined to the North, the Cavalier and Huguenot to the South, but the Scotch-Irish have been about equally distributed in both sections. As a race they have been more tolerant than the Puritan, less exclusive than the Cavalier, and more numerous than the Dutch or the Huguenot.

It is apparent, therefore, that of them all the Scotch-Irish have been the most generally distributed, influential and representative Americans.

It is further apparent, that a fraternal union among them can be more easily established, and will be more widespread and powerful in its effects, than any other race organization.

The cultivation of patriotism in its highest sense, will be the natural result of carrying out the other objects of our society, No other race has been so intensely American as the Scotch-Irish. A study of the history of our forefathers will show that they had imbibed deep-seated ideas of popular government before they left the mother countries of Scotland and Ireland. Fleeing hither to escape civil and religious oppression, it was natural that they should become the first to assert these doctrines. First to assert independence, foremost soldiers of the Revolution, readiest volunteers in every conflict to uphold free institutions, a better acquaintance with their history can not fail to intensify in their descendants a love for the country to whose greatness and glory they have contributed so much. The hundreds of good people who have joined our ranks in the short time which has elapsed since its organization, is the best and most gratifying proof that our objects and plans are meeting with commendation.

The race enthusiasm and the success of the Congress at Columbia was so great that our Society received invitations from a number of cities, inviting us to hold our Second Annual Session in their midst. The Executive Committee met in New York City in July, 1889, and discussed the claims of these respective cities. After careful consideration, they decided to accept the invitation of Pittsburg, extended in the name of the Scotch-Irish of Western Pennsylvania, by a committee of representative citizens, composed of Rev. I. N. Hayes, D.I)., Chairman, Colonel John W, Echols, Secretary, Colonel W. A. Herron, Rev. Nevin Woodside, J. McF. Carpenter, Esq., Rev. James Allison, D.D., and Prof. T. II. Robinson.

Pittsburg was chosen as the place of meeting because it was felt that in Western Pennsylvania, above all other parts of the country, the Scotch-Irish blood was the purest and Scotch-Irish associations strongest. This is forcibly shown in the following extract from the Pittsburg Dispatch:

It is particularly appropriate that a great gathering of that portion of the people known as the Scotch-Irish, such as the one proposed for this week, should come together in this city. Pittsburg is the very center of the Scotch-Irish population in America. At one time seven-eighths of the business men of the city were Scotch-Irish, and even now, it is said, three-fourths of the entire population are of that blood. What this stalwart, hard-visaged, but strong-minded element, has done to advance civilization in Pittsburg and Western Pennsylvania is hard to estimate. They felled the forests, cleared the lands, and filled them with broad farms, large towns, great factories, and many railroads.

From May the 29th to June the 1st, inclusive, was fixed as the date of the meeting. Preliminary arrangements were begun last autumn, and active preparations were commenced in the early part of the present year. Representatives of the Executive Committee of our Society met the Local Committee in joint conference, and together they formulated plans for the meeting, and co-operated in carrying them out. The burden of the work fell on the Local Committee, and was carried through with great energy and ability. The general management of affairs was committed to the local Secretary, Colonel John W. Echols, a prominent lawyer of Pittsburg. To him the success of the Congress was in largest measure due. It was a work of no small magnitude, and occupied the greater part of his time for several months, but he threw into the undertaking a zeal and ability which guaranteed success. All the preparations were made on an extensive scale. No time or expense was spared in making every detail complete. The invitation to the race at large, with Governor Beaver's indorsement, was published by all the leading newspapers of America.

Special invitations of the most elegant form were sent to members of our Society and to thousands of other representative Scotch-Irish people. The local population were invited without reference to race.

In the meantime the Local Executive Committee, with Rev. Dr. I. N. Hayes as Chairman, were arranging other details.

The Transportation Committee, headed by Colonel Echols, secured reduced fare on nearly all the railroads, and exceptionally low rates on all the many systems entering Pittsburg.

The Entertainment Committee had a large share in the work, which was supervised and in large measure performed by the Chairman, Colonel W. A. Herron.

Particularly active and efficient on the Finance Committee were Mayor H. I. Gourley, J. McF. Carpenter, Esq., Messrs. H. P. Ford, President of the Select Council; G. L. Holliday, President of the Common Council, Samuel Hamilton, Chairman of the Citizens' Committee, and Rev. Geo. M. Chalfant.

Through these gentlemen and the active committees that assisted them the citizens of Pittsburg generously subscribed nearly $7,000 to defray the expenses of the occasion, the list being headed by $500 subscriptions from Mr. Alexander King, the great manufacturer, and Mr. Andrew Carnegie, whose name is a household word in our land.

The date fixed unfortunately conflicted with other notable gatherings in neighboring states, but a splendid body of representative Scotch-Irish people came together. Every part of the continent was represented—from California to Maine, and from Toronto, Canada, to Florida.

In attendance was the President of the United States and members of his cabinet, governors of great states, judges of the highest tribunals, divines, editors, and congressmen, celebrated lawyers and physicians, noted bankers, merchants, and manufacturers, substantial farmers, mechanics—every trade and profession represented by its best elements.

The Congress proper began on Thursday morning, May the 29th, and continued until Saturday evening, May the 31st, holding two sessions per day—morning and evening.

On Sunday evening an old time religious service was held under the auspices of the Local Committee.

Business meetings were convened for a short time in the afternoons.

The general exercises were held in Mechanical Hall of the Exposition Buildings, situated exactly at the confluence of the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers on the site of old Fort Duquesne, of which nothing now remains except the old block house. Mechanical Hall is an immense iron and glass structure 300 feet long by 125 feet wide. Fitted up with rising seats, capable of accommodating nearly 6,000 people, well lighted, well ventilated, and beautifully decorated, a finer auditorium could not have been desired. A long platform running along one end of the hall accommodated the officers of the Society, speakers, distinguished guests, and the band which occupied raised seats in the rear. High up on the wall back of the band was displayed a mammoth shield, upon which was painted the Society's coat of arms in its various colors.

Music was furnished by the Great Western Band of Pittsburg, consisting of thirty-four men, all of them first rate performers. Their rendition of Scotch and Irish airs was particularly enjoyed. The programme consisted of addresses, formal and impromptu, interspersed with delightful music, and exercises of a lighter nature.

The addresses all appear in this volume, and will be read with deep interest, but only those who were present can realize the eloquence of their delivery or the enthusiasm which they aroused. The weather was delightful, the interest intense, and the number in attendance increased from the beginning.

The audience reached its culmination on the last evening, when at least 12,000 people crowded the approaches to the hall eagerly seeking entrance.

The vast auditorium was crowded to its utmost capacity, although not more than half the great throng were able to gain admittance.

Dr. John Hall preached the sermon on this occasion, and it taxed even his superb powers of voice and physique to make himself understood in the remote parts of the assemblage. Only psalms were sung, and they were lined out. The whole audience joined in the singing, and a mighty volume of praise went up from nearly six thousand voices.

The vast and devout audience, the powerful soul stirring sermon, and the magnificent singing, all combined to make it a grandly inspiring service, one of the sublimest in religious history.

The President of the United States paid the Congress a visit, and was received with the honors due him as a man and as the chief magistrate of the nation. Upon his arrival he was met by the Mayor of Pittsburg and staff, the citizens' Committee, headed by Mr. Samuel Hamilton, Chairman, and by Colonel. Echols, on behalf of the Congress. These gentlemen, with a military escort, conducted the President first to the Monongahela House and afterward to Mechanical Hall, where he was heartily greeted by the Congress. He was accompanied by Secretary of Treasury Windom, Postmaster-General Wanamaker, and Secretary of Agriculture Rusk, who were also cordially welcomed. The official head-quarters were established at the Monongahela House. This historic old hostelry had been injured by fire a few months before, but the energetic management pushed repairs day and night, and opened it all new and complete on the first day of the meeting. It was placed entirely at the disposal of the Congress, and every thing that skillful hospitality could suggest was done to entertain visitors.

At other places of public entertainment also special pains were taken to make our stay pleasant.

The Committees having the arrangements in charge were untiring in attention, and the citizens of the city, especially those of Scotch-Irish blood, used all their efforts •to the same end.

Visitors were afforded every opportunity to see, under the most favorable circumstances, the marvelous industries of this world famed manufacturing city. They were not slow to avail themselves of the privilege offered, and hundreds carried away with them ideas that will bear rich industrial fruit in other sections of the country. Not only this, but the people of Pittsburg gained from these prominent visitors enlarged views and wider information of every part of America. Thus was the benefit mutual, and the result of the establishment of these new relations has had valuable developments both in a social and a business way. Too great a tribute can not be paid to the splendid hospitality of the noble people who entertained the second Congress, which was in all respects one of the most memorable gatherings ever assembled on American soil, and one whose influence for good will be powerfully felt through the years to come.


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