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The Scotch-Irish in America
Chapter 2

People from Ulster began to sift into the colonies of this western world during the latter quarter of the seventeenth century, and in the first quarter of the eighteenth they began to come in considerable numbers. Before the year 1700, a good many of them had settled in the general region round Philadelphia, but it was not till some years later that they became an important element in the population. Probably their earliest settlements of consequence were in New England. The first of my own name and blood settled in New Hampshire about 1718. They formed communities at various points and exerted a considerable influence in New England. Many of the foremost men in the history of that section had this blood in their veins. Dr. Perry, Professor of History in Williams College, read an elaborate paper before the Scotch-Irish Congress at Pittsburgh in 1890, setting forth with much fulness of detail, the achievements of this race in New England. His paper shows that the children of the Scotch-Irish have no cause to blush when the achievements of their ancestors are brought into comparison with those of the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock, even in that part of the land. At the same time these men of Ulster never came to New England in sufficient numbers to give their own distinctive type to society in that general region. They were strong in certain communities only. They were in quest of more fertile lands than could be found about Massachusetts Bay. Their main ports of entry were Newcastle and Philadelphia, and from those points they soon became a powerful element in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. They had a strong craving for rich land, and when they found it they were determined to have it, no matter how many or how great the difficulties in the way. Hence the stream of migration flowed into the Cumberland Valley, into the Shenandoah, on into the Valley of Virginia, and thence into the Carolinas, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and by degrees into the entire south-west. Another powerful stream flowed directly westward to the Alleghenies, and over them and passed on into what is now southwestern Pennsylvania, and thence westward into Ohio, and so on towards the setting sun. The earliest settlements west of the Monongahela date about 1770. No doubt adventurous hunters and explorers had penetrated the wilderness earlier than that, but permanent settlements were not established till about that time. My own paternal great-grandfather came over the mountains from York County and settled on Miller's Run, twelve miles southeast of the present city of Pittsburgh, in 1774-5. The original plantation on which he then settled is still owned by some of his lineal descendants. At that time Fort Pitt was but a shabby frontier post, and the whole region round about was an almost unbroken wilderness, swarming with wild beasts and still wilder men. But at that time the people began to come who had been chosen and qualified by Almighty Providence to subdue that goodly land and possess it. The heir was coming to his inheritance; the Hebrew was facing his Canaan; and while he clearly foresaw the magnitude of the undertaking, he believed himself fully equal to it. He did not for one moment quail before his mighty task. Within a very few years these people had their settlements here and there all over the territory included within the bend of the rivers. A little later, they crossed the Ohio, driving the Indians before them, and from there spreading westward, always leading the migration, pushing boldly on to the frontier, penetrating the wilderness and subduing it; and so on in the course of time, into Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and at length clear through to the Pacific Coast, where their influence has been powerfully felt from the beginning of the American occupancy. In the year 1905, there was in Portland, Oregon, a splendid exposition celebrating the great exploring expedition of Captains Lewis and Clark across the continent a hundred years ago. One of these redoubtable men certainly was of this race, and both of them probably were. It has been ascertained that the majority of the most famous frontiersmen of the forest, the plains and the mountains of the entire central and western part of this country have been of this blood. Twenty years before the opening of the last century, Col. George Rogers Clarke, a Scotch-Irishman, comissioned by Governor Patrick Henry of Virginia, another Scotch-Irishman, organized and led the great military expedition which redeemed the whole Northwest Territory, out of which five great states have been carved. The settlements of these people did not follow the wave of conquest; they were themselves the earliest wave. No other people ever broke the way for them; they broke it for themselves and for others who followed. They were predestined and born pioneers of the first order, conquerors of unfriendly nature and unfriendly men. Emerson tells us that the earth belongs to the energetic man. According to this criterion, these people certainly proved their title. They opened the way for weaker and less resolute men. With unflinching fortitude they faced the wilderness and the savage. There was nothing of either the coward of the sluggard in their nature. For the most part, they were a lean, sinewy, strong-boned, heavily-muscled breed; tough and hardy, sound of lung and limb, with nerves of steel and a digestive apparatus that might have excited the envy of a grizzly bear; not in the least afraid of hard work, severe privation, or great peril, if only they could get on in life; not very easy to live with unless one agreed with them and fell into their ways. They were overcomers by nature, by training and by equipment. Nobody ever overcame them, while they never failed to overcome all who stood in their way. They conquered the forest, the savage, the French, the British; they took whatever land they wanted, and held it against all comers. Wherever they settled, they remained.

From their first coming to our shores they exerted in proportion to their numbers, an extraordinary influence on the fortunes of the country, especially previous to and during the struggle for Independence. From the first they were the steadfast and strenuous champions of civil and religious liberty in the colonies. They were not foolish, fretful and fussy agitators. They were utterly free from fanatical impulses and visionary theories; cool, calculating, practical, hard-headed. They wanted liberty, and were bound to have it at whatever cost; liberty of conscience, of worship and of political action, but they did not want license or anarchy. Patrick Henry spoke not only from his own heart, but from the heart of his race when he cried, "Give me liberty, or give me death." But it was liberty regulated by just laws. Bancroft, the great historian of the United States says, "The first voice publicly raised in America to dissolve all connection with Great Britain, came not from the Puritans of New England, nor from the planters of Virginia, nor from the Dutch of New York, but from the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians." The great Declaration made by these people at Mecklenberg was more than a year earlier than the one made in Philadelphia. The Westmoreland Resolutions also antedated that most famous document. During the war the Scotch-Irish were incomparably the most effective element in Washington's army. They were exceedingly influential in the Continental Congress, and in the various colonial assemblies. So far as appears there was not a Tory among them. In the darkest hours, times that tried men's souls, when multitudes were ready to give up, they stood stalwart and resolute. Their ministers preached and prayed, and in not a few instances, organized companies and regiments and led them to battle. The battle of King's Mountain for instance, which drove Cornwallis and the British forces from the entire southern country, was fought almost exclusively by these Scotch-Irish, nearly every regiment being commanded by a Presbyterian elder.

That battle was peculiar in this, that every man of the enemy was either killed or captured. Not a single man got away. Undoubtedly in preparing for the great struggle and during its continuance, the men and women of this blood had a share far out of proportion to their numbers. In the councils of the colonies, in the Congress, in the army, in creating public opinion and keeping it alive, they were the active, intelligent, resolute and uncompromising champions of the movement for independence. Here may be quoted the words of Col. A. K. M'Clure, the famous Philadelphia editor: "It was the Scotch-Irish people of the colonies that made the declaration of 1776. Without them it would not have been thought of except as a passing fancy. The action of the Continental Congress voiced the teachings of the Scotch-Irish people of the land. They did not falter, they did not dissemble, they did not temporize. It was not the Quaker, not the Puritan, not the Cavalier, not even the Huguenot or the German ; it was the Scotch-Irish of the land whose voice was first heard in Virginia.

In the valley of Virginia, in North Carolina, in Cumberland and Westmoreland counties in Pennsylvania, the Scotch-Irish had declared that these colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent. They had taught this not only in their public speeches, but at their altars, in their pulpits, at their firesides, and it was from these that came that outburst of rugged and determined people that made the declaration of 1776 possible. They were its authors, and they were ready to maintain it by all the moral and physical power they possessed. They meant that Scotch-Irish blood was ready to flow on the battle field, and come weal or woe, they would maintain it with their lives." The influence of these people on the subsequent course of American history, upon the industries, the commerce, the inventions, the educational, philanthropic and charitable institutions of the country, and especially upon its religious development, has been equally remarkable. But it does not fall within the scope of this book to follow this general history further. Let it be said, however, that we have reason to be proud of the heroism of our ancestors. It may be true of many of us that the best part of us is underground.

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