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.

Proceedings of the Fourth Congress at Atlanta, GA., April 28 to May 1, 1892
The Evolution of The Scotch-Irish

By Prof. George Macloskie, Princeton College


By some error it has been announced that Dr. Patton was to be present, and would make an address at this meeting. He was desirous to come, but Providence has prevented him. He has been lying in sickness and is now recovering, but for a month or two yet he will be unable to do any work. Although not a Scotch-Irishman, he is half of one, and we are trying to make him one at Princeton College, which is a Scotch-Irish institution, and he is very much interested in our movement. I never would have come to this meeting and left my work at the busy season of the year had it not been for Dr. Patton, but I don't know whether that is a privilege to you or not. [Laughter.]

Another thing I want to speak of is a personal matter. In the old country I was rather in the unfortunate position of a Scotch-Irishman whose ancestry had all run away to America. About thirty years before I was born my grandfather came to Charleston, S. C, and from that time on I was anxious to hear about these American relatives. I was so alone in the world that I have come after them, but it is only one of them that I have found. I have not found my grandfather. I suppose there is a presumption of law that he is not at this time in existence, but I am not sure of that, especially in this good climate where there are so many very aged men. But this is my position. I have never yet met the right man by the name of McClure, for that was his name, or of Hemphill. My heart beat fast when the name of Hemphill was called yesterday, for I don't know but that your Mayor might be a cousin or some other relation of mine. I may also state that my friend, Col. Adair, who gave us the address yesterday, in mentioning the part that Scotch-Irishmen have taken in the building up of this community, omitted to give the name of Mayor Hemphill as one specimen of these Scotch-Irish journalists. I want to say a word about evolution which affects the different species of animals and plants, and according to whose principles new varieties of the human race can be developed through circumstances that are going on in the world. My subject is an abstract of a scientific lecture on the evolution of the Scotch-Irish race. In discussing this subject I will not begin with China, though I understand that the Emperor of China is learning Scotch-Irish. [Laughter.] The newspapers say he is learning English under a Scotch-Irishman, and we know what kind of English that is. [Laughter.]

I begin with Iceland. In Reclus' book on the geography of the world, it is averred that Iceland in ancient times was colonized by people from Ireland; that the crosses and the bells and the ecclesiastical remains of Iceland bear testimony to the Irish colonization. Also one of the fiords of Iceland is called Patrick's Fiord, a good name and one that I like, as symbolized by the colors of this badge which the local committee have prepared. I like to see the orange and the green coming together, showing that we are all Irishmen. [Applause.]

In the old time we had what we call, in the language of modern science, the primordial or generalized condition of the race. They were not yet specialized as to what part of Iceland they came from, and there were Scotch-Irishmen, or rather Scots, of the North of Ireland, also of North Britain, for the people of Ireland and Scotland alike were called Scots in those days. They were in a very generalized condition, to put it in a scientific style. Prom that time we must come to a period marked by violence and contending forces. It was the old principle of the struggle for existence. In this struggle for existence there were many external factors of oppression; a hard time it was. Our President told us something yesterday about the emigration from that country to this during those times of trial and oppression, and it is astonishing how great some of them get to be over here. First, Francis Makemie, sent to a New York prison for preaching the gospel, was a case of the struggle for existence; and now John Hall, with his fine Fifth Avenue church, in the same city, exemplifies the survival of the fittest. In that time there were trials in various forms, and the real hero of the siege of Derry was a Scotch-Irishmen. This was Adam Murray, who led the forces in their sallies against the besiegers, and though he was cheated of the honor because he was a Scotch-Irishman and not an Englishman, we should not forget his achievements. "We have had wrongs to suffer for a long time, and still we have to struggle. But if our environment was rather a trying one, it proved to be really wholesome, for it taught us the way to our liberty and to our God. You have seen this in America, and have seen the difficulties overcome here. You can imagine how I feel when I see over here my old friend, back again, great in position and in stature. When I look on so many stalwart representatives of the race, I ask: "How do you come to be so big in these places?" How is it that these Scotch-Irishmen have come to be so tall? I must consider this as one of the problems and one of the puzzles. But as I saw here one of the great-grandsons of John Starke my heart went back to his grandfather, John Starke, who was a great hero; and yet there was a greater hero in his time, and that was John Starke's Scotch-Irish wife, that used to write letters to him when he was fighting for his country's liberty, telling him that he was laboring in God's cause and let his heart not fail, for God would be with him and give him the victory. It was in this way that these Scotch-Irish men and women all fought the great battles of this struggle for existence. What we wanted then and want still was existence; that is to say, a healthy development, a healthy, hearty existence, that we should not be cringing under the feet of tyranny, but that we should be free men, and yet law-abiding men, but not that we should have any ascendency over others.

I think it right to say in this Congress, at the present time, that whilst I do not enter into politics, and whilst I have taken no sides in the contest for home rule and kindred matters, because I am an American citizen, and not an English subject, yet I know that the men who are to-day against home rule in the North of Ireland are the same men who, a generation ago, fought for the rights and liberties of their Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen; they are not bigots, they are not fanatics, they are not men who want an ascendency of their own party, but they are men who are afraid of an ascendency rising up in the place of the old one that after long struggles they have gotten rid of, and now they are wanting to preserve this principle of fairness and freedom, and I say it is a struggle for existence, it is not a struggle for domination, it is not a struggle to rob anybody of his rights. Here also in the United States the Scotch-Irish do not wish to lord it over any other class. We want to carry on our own work and do it fairly and well, and to enjoy the existence, to enjoy the privileges which God has given us. Now we come to the survival of the fittest, and I need not be required to give a certificate to show that we are the fittest to survive. [Laughter and applause.]

A young lady told me that it would be a good course to make a speech on the bad things of the Scotch-Irish, and we could find plenty of them, both at home and in America, plenty of disgraceful acts which they have done. I was rather indiscreet a short time ago in telling my class in college that if the boys would be quiet and behave themselves nicely it would be a pleasant thing for the Faculty, and our work would be greatly lessened, but there would not be much good out of students of that kind. The students that have no mischief in them have little good as the world goes. [Applause.] And so it is with the older men as well. I may state for the other side (the ladies), where there is not much mischief, there is not much pleasure, not much spice; and whenever you find a tendency to develop anything that is bad, you may be sure that there is an opportunity of developing something good there, and as a scientific man I like to hear discussions, even though they are sometimes on the wrong side. I sometimes teach my boys that a great deal of the discovery that is made in the world is made by people going in the dark and making blunders, and if I were in a big wood and did not know the way out, I should think it was better to go some way than to sit there and do nothing. These Scotch-Irishmen accordingly, sometimes, when they do not know the right way take the wrong way, and they have been trying to find out their mistakes and improve themselves. I am not going into practical illustrations of that, even if I had time, and I am limited to fifteen minutes. I can go over the field and show you how the ground lies. Even their activity in wrong directions has often proved their fitness to survive.

These Scotch-Irishmen have been an irrepressible set, as their masters will tell you. Why did they shut up the gates of Derry? Some of the wisest and most prudent men of Derry told them to keep the gates open and let the invading army into the city. Why did they shut the gates on the troops of the king and seek to prevent them from entering? Why wore not, these people content to sit down and become clodhoppers instead of fighting for their liberty? Why was it when they came to America they gave much trouble to the British Government? Why did our brethren from Boston—those noble Puritans whose memory we revere—throw the tea into the harbor and do rascally things of this kind? Why did you fight such battles for freedom, knowing that the greatest naval and military powers of the world were against you, and that your success was hopeless? It was this: there was mischief in these Scotch-Irishmen, they could not be put down, and there is the hope of something good in it. This is not the first Scotch-Irish Congress that we have had in Atlanta. There was a great Scotch-Irish Congress here in Atlanta twenty-seven years ago under the joint presidency of Hood and Sherman, and why did that congress go into all that fighting and quarreling when its members were brothers? It is the mischief that was in them; there must be potency of good in a people that have so much mischief, and our business is to try to encourage and bring out that good, that something may be done. This is a scientific line of evolution, and if you would submit the case to a body of scientific men they would tell you that these principles are sound, that it is in this way good races have been developed.

I will close by telling you what I did with a few of our Scotch-Irish students that have been in Princeton. They come over sometimes for their education. They are all extreme Presbyterians; they have some liberality, but still they look at things very much from a Presbyterian point of view, and people must forgive them for a slight narrowness in that respect. I told them that I was coming to the Scotch-Irish Congress and wanted a subject, for I knew that Mr. Bonner had a trick of calling on me sometimes, and I asked them to tell me the state of matters in the old country. The first thing they told me about was the recent prosperity of the country, the prosperity of the farmers, and the wonder of that prosperity is that it is in the midst of the greatest difficulties they have ever experienced. The flax crop, which used to be a great crop, is gone now. The causes of it I need not explain. But for all that the farmers have, many of them, become land owners, and even the farmers who have not yet been able to become land owners are sharing in the general prosperity of the whole country. Affairs should not be changed, but they should be let alone as they are. The country is going on in prosperity; it is the survival of the fittest.

Another thing they told me is that Belfast is becoming a great place for shipbuilding, and it is advancing more than any other seaport in the British Isles, I think, with two or three exceptions, in some respects more than any other. It has recently got a feather in its cap of which it may be proud. The queen is very jealous— not the queen herself, but her ministers—of giving favors to certain places, and Belfast was never much favored by the government, but the queen has made the Mayor of Belfast a Lord Mayor. London has a Lord Mayor; Dublin, from time immemorial, has had a Lord Mayor; York has had a Lord Mayor, because it was the old historic center of Northern England, and now Belfast has the fourth Lord Mayor, and he is a Scotch-Irishman. [Applause.] One of our Belfast teachers was Dr. Thompson, whose arithmetic and geography we used to learn in the schools, and his son went over to become a teacher in Glasgow, and became celebrated in laying Atlantic cables and has been raised to the peerage and made Lord Kelvin. He was one of the Belfast school-teachers, and as an old Belfast schoolteacher myself I rather feel proud that these things are going on.

Another thing these young men told me was the great advance of temperance that is going on at the present time in the North of Ireland, so that many places where the drinking used to be a reproach to the country are now becoming remarkable for sobriety, and I am glad to be able to say that the Roman Catholics and Methodists and Baptists and people of all denominations have joined together in fighting in the British Parliament for sobriety and the observance of the Lord's day in their country, and it is a good sign that on a recent occasion the Roman Catholic Society in Dublin invited the Presbyterian assembly to a breakfast in the cause of temperance. That shows the fraternal spirit that is amongst the people, notwithstanding the differences in creed and politics. With all this prosperity there are financial difficulties, and yet the Church of Christ is advancing in Ireland, and advancing especially in the missionary spirit. These young men tell me that the Irish Presbyterian Church is at the present time sending missionaries into all parts of the world as they never did before, and William Park, my old friend and pupil, who has been their Moderator lately, is now proposing that they shall imitate St. Patrick by sending large bands of students to China and India and other heathen countries.

The last thing I have to speak of is the advancement of education. At the College of Belfast this work is progressing, and the degree that is conferred by the medical department of that college is now being recognized over the world as the highest degree which any college can give. I find in the Northern states in this country an impression that the young women in the South are better educated than the young men. They say that you women are better educated than your brothers and sweethearts, and you ladies should not permit that, you should insist on their being as good scholars as you. The women of Ireland have been taking the honors of pub-lie occasions more than anybody else. Thus we learn that the whole country is advancing in all these things: in prosperity, in manufactures, in education and missionary spirit to be a blessing to the world. I think we may thank God and take courage for our race. [Applause.]


Return to Proceedings Index Page