America Immigration: The Scotts Irish/Ulster-Scotts


Figure 1.--The Scotts-Irish had a major impact on America, both American history and culture. One of the important roots of country music was the musical tradition of the Scotts-Irish.

The Scotts-Irish are a often poorly understood group. They are actually a sub-set of Scotts, but specifically Low-Land Scotts. They were not ethnically Irish and certainly not Catholic. The Irish in their name comes from the fsct that thry briefly lived in Ireland, specifically Ulster. Scotts-Irish is an American term. In Britain they are more commonly referred to as the Ulsrer-Scotts which a more understandable term. They played an important role in British and American history--especially the American Revolution. They also have played an inportant cultural role in America. The Scotts-Irish originted in the Scottish Lowlands. They were not strongly involved in the Scottish risings, this came mostly from the Highlands. Their location in the Lowlands meant that they were the Scotts most influenced culturally by the English. But like other Scotts they were Presbeterians. They were used by the English Crown to pacify Northern Ireland by replacing Irish Ctholics with nmore loyal Scottish Presbeterians. This was since known as the Ulster Plantations. The experiment was partially successful, they did replace the Irish Catholics, but they were not compliant enough for English land lords and their oposition to the Church of England caused problems ith the Crown. As a result of this alienation with the English, they emigrated in large numbers to the American colonies at a relatively late period in colonial history. Many of the Scott-Irish settled the backwoods of the American colonies, meaning the area in the foothills of the Apalanchen Mountains. This was because by the time they began to emigrate, much of the best land east of the mountains had been settled and British authorities attempted to prevent settlement west of the mountains. Thus the Scotts Irish were limited to the backwoods. They could not afford to buy the better farm land in already developed areas and British officials denined them permission to move west into the rich land to the west of the mountins. Many of these Scotts families because of their experiences were anti-English and their experience in the colonies just intensified this feeling. English policies were unpopular throughout the colonies, but as the Colonists were mostly of English stock, they did not resent the English per se. The attitudes of the Scotts-Irish were more viceral. They disliked the English and not just their policies. They would play a major role in the American Revolution (1776-83). This meant at the time of the Revolution large areas in the backwoods were strongly anti-British. This would play out in the Revolution, especially the British southern campaign. One of the most influential early presidents, Andrew Jackson was Scotts Irish, the first of the Log Cabin presidents.

Terminology

The Scotts-Irish are a often poorly understood group. They are actually a sub-set of Scotts, but specifically Low-Land Scotts. They were not ethnically Irish and certainly not Catholic. The Irish in their name comes from the fsct that thry briefly lived in Ireland, specifically Ulster. Scotts-Irish is an American term. In Britain they are more commonly referred to as the Ulster-Scotts which a more understandable term.

Importance

They played an important role in British and American history--especially the American Revolution. They also have played an inportant cultural role in America.

Geography

The Scotts-Irish originted in the Scottish Lowlands. They were not strongly involved in the Scottish risings, this came mostly from the Highlands. Their location in the Lowlands meant that they were the Scotts most influenced culturally by the English.

Religion

Like other Scotts, the Scotts-Irish were Presbeterians. Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church, but retained many Catholic elements in the Church of England. The Reformation was much more successful in Scotland. The Church of Scotland was Preysbetarian. In the religious conflicts in England, Queen Elizabeth's mother lost her head and Princess Elizabeth nearly did s well. Queen Mary Stuart of Scotland did lose her head. When Queen Mary failed to return Catholocism to England, Phillip II of Spain dipstched the Great Armada to retuen Enhland to Catholovism. Mary Stuart's son James I (1603-1625) was yaken from her and raised a Protestant, but as king he wanted to end the religious conflicts, by forcing disenter groups into the COE. This was why the Pilgrims sailed to Massachuserts. Other dissenter groups followed. The Catholics were another problem. and a real security threat. Guy Faukes was aatholic who rued to blow up Partliament at the time. By James's reign, hoever, Englnd had become a largely Protestant country. The principal Catholic stronghold was Ireland.

Flight of the Earls

The flight of the Earls (O'Neill, O'Donnell and the other Ulster lords) ended the last real chance of a united Catholic Ireland independent of English control (1603-07). Little is known about what their plans were. Some speculaste they hoped to return with foreign aid. The Earls resisted English dimintiion and fled Ireland to seek suport from from Spain and the Papacy to fight the Protestant England. The Earls failed in their effort, lost their land, and were never able to return to their beloved Ireland.

The Ulster Plantations (1604-1685)

King James I’s answer to the security problem in Ireland was to change the ethnic and religious map of the north, a 17th century version of ethnic cleansing. James I and his Government saw the deprture of the Earls as an opportunity. Chichester was a strong proponent for a plantation. The Crown confiscated the lands of the departed lords (December 1607). Further conflict resulted in the confiscation of even more land and a substantial expansion of the planned plantation. The Government issued pamphlets to promote British Protestants to launch a great colonising enterprise to create a new Protestant Ireland (Summer 1610). Colonists were drawn from a large range of British society, both English and Scottish (mostly Lowlanders) as well as some Protestant foreigners. Chichester and Scottish nobels like the Earl of Abercorn played important roles. The migrants included aristocrats, artisans, evicted Lowland farmers, even fugitives from justice. The English were better financed, but the Scotts were the most determined colonists or planters as they were called. For this reason the planters came to be called the Ulster Scotts or in America the Scotts-Irish. They were in fact not all Scotts, but they were defnitely Protestants who came to Ireland with a religious mission in mind as well as personal benefit. The Scots wee not Anglican, but were Protestants. The effort even attracted French and German protestants. He focused on northeastern Ireland or Ulster where land was confiscated after the Flight of the Catholic Earls. King James first gave land to the English and Scottish immigrants and then to court favorites. The native Catholic Irish were the last to receive any land. In fsct in the pfoicess of the Ulster Plantation, the English displaced large numbers of Irish peasants wjo had worked the land for centurie. Ulster included the nine present-day northeatern counties of Donegal, Fermanagh, Cavan, Monaghan, Armagh, Down, Tyrone, Coleraine (later Londonderry), and Antrim. Not only was the land available after the Flight of the Earls, but it is also the area of Ireland clost to Englnd and Scotland. Most of the Scotts used by the Crown to pacify Ulster were The Lowland Scotts. While not English or Anglicans, they were seen by King James as loyal to him. It was of course the beginning of the northernn Irish problem. The Scotts Irish began establish their own towns and villages. Commerce and industry prospered. They introduced more productive new farming methods. The Presbyterian Church became firmly established in still stronhly bCatholic Ireland. The result was turmoil and animosity and a conflict that persisted into the lste-20th century. Imprtantly, the final phase of the Glorious Revolution, King Janes II's effort to regaon the Crown was fought out in Ulster, with the Scotts-Irish, including the famed Apprentice Boys of Derry resisting James' Catholic Jacobite army with his French allies--the Williamnite War (1689-91).

Problems in Ulster

The Scotts-Irish in Ulster not only faced the emnity of the dispossed Catholic Irish, but encountered problems with the English Crown tht had briught them to Ulster. Different English kings adopted varying religious policies. James' sucessors were not as accomodating with Presbyterians as he had been. And English landlords found their Scottish tenants were just as much trouble as the native Irish tenants if not more troublesome. And the English Crown began to more aggrsively promote the COE. The Presbyterian Church of Scoitland had constitutionslm protection in Scotlsnd itself, but not in Ulster. The result was an increasing struggle for religious tolerance, civil liberties, and political rights. The Crown began descriminsging agajunst Presbyterians in holding office and representation in government. There were also economic issues. Anglican COE ministers supported themselves by tithing both the Irish-Catholic and the Presbyterian Scotts Irish who did not even attend COE churches. In addition their were high rents. And these problems were exacerbated by crop failures (1724-26). As a result, emigratuon to nAmerica began. The Catholic Irish for the nost part did not want to leave as the American colonies were perceived as Protestant lands. The Scotts-Irish after about a century in Ulster began to emigrate in large numbers.

Emigration to America (1717-75)

The Scotts Irish began emigrating to the the British colonies (1720s). This emigration occurred during a narrow time window (1717-75). It largely ended with the outbreak of the American Revolution. The movemenbt is called the 'Great Migration'. Historians describe five distinct waves. It was the Scotts-Irish arriving in the first three waves that established the major Scotts-Irish settlements in the colonies. The Scotts Irish emigrated at a relatively late period in colonial history. The numbers were smakl compated to the European emogration sfterthe Civil War, but the population of colonial America was much smaller. As a result they wee a groupof some importance. Many of the Scott-Irish settled the backwoods of the American colonies, meaning the area in the foothills of the Apalanchen Mountains. This was because by the time they began to emigrate, much of the best land east of the mountains had been settled and British authorities attempted to prevent settlement west of the mountains. Thus the Scotts Irish were limited to the backwoods. They could not afford to buy the better farm land in already developed areas and British officials denined them permission to move west into the rich land to the west of the mountains. Many of these Scotts families because of their experiences were anti-English and their experience in the colonies just intensified this feeling. English policies were unpopular throughout the colonies, but as the Colonists were mostly of English stock, they did not resent the English per se. The attitudes of the Scotts-Irish were more viceral. They disliked the English and not just their policies.

The Revolution (1776-83)

The Scotts-Irish played a major role in the American Revolution (1776-83). It was the colonists of English discent who dominated the Revolution politically and provided the ideological foundation. The Scotts Iriah, however, have been described as the molten core of the Revolution. They proved that on the battlefield and in subsequent American wars. A question arises as to how the English colonists, most fervently attached to Britain, came to see themselves as Americans. There were many reasons for this, but one important reason was there was in America an important group which had grown up looking as the British as oppresors in political, economic, and religious terms. And this was the case before modt others Americans had reached this cinclusion. They were the Scotts-Irish. Most ardently embraced the Patriot cause in greater proportion than any other group in America. Their importance on the Western frontier made the western frontier areas a strong supporter of independence. A good example here is Andrew Jackson . It has been estimated that as much as a third of Washington's Continental Army was composed of the Scotts-Irish. There were reportedly 1,400 officers. The father of the American Navy, Commodore John Beary, was Irish. There were eight Irish signers of the Declaration of Independence--three born in Ulster and five in America. The Declaration was printed by a Scotts Irish printer. It should be stressed that the Irish in the Revolution were the Protestant Scotts Irish from Ulster. The contribution of Catholic Irish would come later. While the English had thoroughly suppressed the Irish and Scotts by the late 18th century, in no small measure, the resentment that caused along with migration to America was a key factor in their loss of the American Colonies. There were differences between the Scotts-Irish and Scotts. The Scott-Irish proved to be a mainstay of the Continental cause. Ironically the Scotts who had been so brutally treated by the Crown in Scotland were divided many feared that without the monarchy, they would be exposed to the domibation of the English majority. This meant at the time of the Revolution large areas in the backwoods were strongly anti-British. This would play out in the Revolution, especially the British southern campaign. The Scotts Irish not only played an important role in the major campaigns, but they were also prominant in the West, seizing control of Kentucky. Many of the settlers Daniel Boone led into Kentucky were Scotts Irish. This helped America in the peace neotiations to lay claim to the frontier beyond the Aplachains.

The Scotts and Scotts-Irish

We are not entirely sure at this time how the Scotts and Scotts-Irish reksated with each other in the Colonies and later the independent United States. Perhaps readers will have some idea here. We believe the Scotts were more dispersed than the Scotts-Irish. nd the Scotts wre more drawn from the Higlands. The Scotts that attend Highland Gatherings are primarrily the Scottish immigrants and not the Scotts-Irish.

American Presidents

The press in America trumpheted the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 as the first Irish president. Left unsaid by the press is the fact thst more than 20 presidents are of Scotts-Irish heritage, including some very important ones. The first was Andrew Jackson who played a major role in transforming America frim a patrician republic to a popular democracy. Harry Truman was another presidentb of Scotts-Irish ancestry.

Cultural Contribution

The cultural contribution of the Scotts-Irish to America is enormous and extrodinarily diverse. The Scott-s Irish not only played a key role in winning the Revolutionary War and today constitute about a third of the U.S. militafy, an extrodinary figure given the actual number of Scotts-Irish immigrants. They have provided some of our literary giants, including Mark Twain and Stephen King. They created country bmudic. NASCAR is a Scotts-Irish contribution, orginating with backwoods mmonshiners and their souped up cars during Prohibition. It is now biggest spectator sport in the country. There is a long list of iconic figures, including Daniel Boone, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, and George Patton. [McCarthy]

Sources

McCarthy, Karen. The Other Irish: The Scotts-Irish Rascals that Made America (2011).







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Created: 12:13 AM 11/3/2011
Last updated: 11:42 AM 9/26/2012