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The Scotch-Irish in America
Proceedings of the Third Congress at Louisville
Patriotism of the Scotch-Irish.
By Prof. George Macloskie, of Princeton, N. J.


We have been charged with calling ourselves Scotch-Irish, instead of Irishmen, because we are ashamed of our country. I frankly admit that I have often in the old country said, "I am an Irishman who am ashamed of my country," and I have given as the reason, because my countrymen were often too fond of whisky and too fond of fighting. But we acknowledge that it is our country, and we acknowledge our share of responsibility for its condition. Nor are we sorry that we have affinity with Ireland and with all Irishmen, for in many respects it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and the sons of Ireland of every section and party have won their way to honor. One of the pleasant features of our Congress is that it brings us Irishmen together just as some of us were wont to meet across the sea. Yesterday when we sat around Dr. Hamilton's dinner-table in Louisville, I suggested that we should imagine we were back in Belfast, as the same party used to be assembled around Dr. Macintosh's table in that city, and that we could see the Black Mountain from the window. We had already seen the Cave Hill on the street-cars, for you have a Louisville Cave Hill, but not, I fear, like the famous mountain with Napoleon's face that overlooks Belfast. When we return to our old country, it is very sad to. miss so many of the dear friends whom we used to meet. But here we find our friends, as it were, resurrected; the children and grandchildren of our kith and kin coming from all parts of the land to greet us, and our old home feeling is stirred up within us as if we were all back again in Ireland. When in the old home, we used to symbolize our patriotism by the shamrock, the rose, and the thistle twined together, and we loved, and still love, all the countries that were so united. But when transported across the ocean, we have left out the rose; for though I still love England and Englishmen, I must acknowledge that England has, by her misconduct, forfeited our allegiance. I understand that I am still entitled to vote for a member of the British Parliament (I am now represented by Sir John Lubback), and I sometimes receive appeals to support particular candidates, or to join remonstrances for or against Home Rule; but I refuse to meddle with such matters because I have renounced my former allegiance. We are no longer British subjects but American citizens. In a historical sense we retain the names of Scotland and Ireland, and our badge still bears the thistle and the shamrock; but we are now the Scotch-Irish of America, and we desire to have the term "America" written large in our name. We are not a political party; but we have severally our political affiliations, and we claim to be the friends and brothers of all American citizens of all nationalities. We are not a sectarian society, but we have severally our denominational affinities, whilst we claim, all of us, to be Christians and to love as brethren in the Lord all Christians of whatever particular sects and languages and colors.

Some people have of late been discussing the question of a national American plant, and many suggestions have been made on the subject. But whether we like it or not there is an important plant which shall be associated with America in the mind of the civilized world; this is the maize, or Indian corn, a native of the New World, now going forth to occupy all lands that have warm summers. I have been charged by a worthy lady to advocate the corn as the symbol of our country, and this I can do with all confidence. More than a century ago the Scotch-Irish Gov. Logan, of Pennsylvania, carried on scientific observations on the fertilization of maize, and since that date many other eminent botanists have made it the subject of their experiments, so that it is a plant of singular scientific value. Then, like the American race, it has been extending itself over many lands; it is one of these diffusive American institutions which by moral means are extending. Well do we remember, in the year of famine in Ireland, the little steamboats that came up the river with their loads of Indian corn to save the lives of the Irish people. There is a majesty and beauty, associated with a utilitarian force, in this plant that makes it a fitting emblem of our nation. And such as the American nation is as a whole, such especially is its Scotch-Irish element, facing and overcoming difficulties— extending its influence. We are to hear at our Congress about a larger domain of the race than we have been hitherto talking about—of the Scotch-Irish among the nations. Now I have great respect for the Monroe doctrine in so far as it declares that we shall not form entangling alliances with other political powers. But we have no respect for any politics that would ignore our duty to other nations. We do not regard patriotism as an effort to exalt ourselves by degrading others; but our view of patriotism is that, whilst our country of America shall have the first place in our hearts and efforts, we shall also try to elevate other countries. And our great republican institutions are, by the force of moral example, raising other peoples on this side and across the ocean. In this great mission of free social influences we are pleased to know that the Scotch-Irish of America are bearing their part. A friend who hails directly from Scotland was lately asking me to have our Society so constituted as to admit himself and others of his nation. Now we honor Scotland for its heroic fidelity to great principles, and I have a personal regard for my Scottish friend; but all the same our Society is not for Scotchmen, unless they show their good sense and qualify for membership by marrying Scotch-Irish wives. We have, however, a common call upon us all, independently of our societies and parties, the call of patriotism that we may prefer the welfare of our whole people before the pleasures of any of us individually or of any party among us. And I was not long in this country until I saw something that proved how strong this patriotism is, notwithstanding all our internal struggles. For the first time in its history this world saw a nation of fifty millions settle by arbitration the grand question of who should be its chief magistrate. Whether the decision arrived at was right or not I cannot say. But the mere fact that such a question was left to arbitration, and that all the nation acquiesced in the resulting award, was an object lesson which taught all peoples that there are both patriotism and stability in the American political system.


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