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