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Redeemed Sinner. Deep Roots. Southern Heart.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Impact Of The Scots-Irish On America, Part 4

As the 1800's dawned on the United States, it was clear to many that there was very little "united" about it. The industrial revolution had begun and the North quickly became the center of industrialism in America. That industrialization took hold in the North should not be surprising, considering the fact that the vast majority of Northerners were descendants of Englishmen and their English cousins had begun the revolution.
(By no means should this be interpreted as a "blanket statement". There were Southerners of English extraction just as there were Northerners of Scottish descent. The point is that the majority of Southerners were of Scots-Irish descent, and the majority of Northerners were of English descent. This had a lot to do with how the Northerners looked at government.)

The Scots-Irish were still having a noticeable impact on the government of the country. At the turn of the century, Thomas Jefferson was elected president. He was very much a supporter of limited government and states rights. In the years 1829-1837, War of 1812 hero Andrew Jackson served as president. Although he was Scots-Irish, his support of the Tariff of Abominations cost him the good opinion of Southerners. The Tariff of Abominations placed a huge tax on Southerners buying imported goods from Europe, forcing them to purchase products at the inflated Northern prices. This was the main reason Jackson's running mate, John C. Calhoun, resigned from office. John Caldwell Calhoun was a fire-eating secessionist from South Carolina.

He was a direct descendant of James Caldwell, who was a member of the "Black-Robed Regiment".

This was the state of the nation when a little known yankee lawyer, Abraham Lincoln, was nominated to run as the presidential candidate of the newly formed Republican party. (The platform of the political parties at this time were completely reversed. The Republicans were what the Democratic party is today.) One of the main points in the Republicans platform was a strong centralized government, which is a no-no to the Scots-Irish. When the election of 1860 came around, Lincoln was not even on the ballot in the Southern states. Because of a recent split in the Democratic party, Lincoln won the presidency.

The South was outraged.

Why? Because, without the popular vote, a person had been elected to office who was philosophically opposed to everything they held dear. Strong centralized government is only the tip of the iceberg, because when people become subjects of the state, they lose the right to think, act for themselves, and take responsibility for their own actions, they became slaves. The Scots-Irish instantly recognized this as yet another attack against their Presbyterian values. Therefore, they took steps to defend themselves and provide for the security of their descendants.

On December 20, 1861, a group of legislators met in the St. Andrew's Society hall, in Columbia, South Carolina, after several weeks of fasting and prayer. The St. Andrew's Society was dedicated to the preservation of Scottish history. By the end of the meeting, history had been made as South Carolina became a separate country, and seceded from the union. Soon, the Confederate States of America was formed. Though this Confederacy had many flaws, this nation was comparable to the protestant countries of Scotland and England, after the Reformation. The Confederate Constitution was drawn mainly from the Articles of Confederation, as well as the US Constitution, as a nod to Patrick Henry, who had argued in favor of keeping the Articles of Confederation as the constitution.

Many Southern leaders were of Scots-Irish extraction. Men like Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, JEB Stuart, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Patrick Cleburne. Robert E. Lee was a direct descendant of King Robert the Bruce.

And you could tell it by the way they fought.

It was definitely not a contest of equals. The North's population was around 23,000,000. The South- 9,000,000. The South was exceeded in total wealth by 3-1 and industrial output by 10-1. But the Southern-Scots-Irish did not have a problem with that, they had been fighting against these odds for the over five hundred years.

"But the South was superior to the north in the intensity of its warrior ethic".

"That warrior ethic, which would carry the outnumbered and outgunned Confederacy a very long way, came from the long tradition of service that had begun so many centuries before in Scotland and the north of Britain. The Confederate battle flag itself was drawn from the St. Andrew's Cross of Scotland, and the unbending spirit of the Southern soldier found its energies in the deeds of the past just as strongly as it looked up to the leaders of the present. These were the direct descendants of William Wallace's loyal followers of five centuries before, Winston Churchill's "hard, unyielding spear men who feared nought (sic) and, once set in position, had to be killed". (Born Fighting, by Jim Webb, pg. 220)

Well, as you know, the South was forced to surrender after four years of war. They struggled manfully, suffered 70% casualties (200,000) and killed 300,000 of their antagonists. During this time the worst atrocities ever committed against a country, except perhaps those committed against Scotland during her war for independence, were done to the South. The ensuing Reconstruction was a completion of the genocide of the Southern-Scots-Irish. During this time, it became popular to refer to Southerners as "rednecks" and "hillbillies", derogatorily. Ironically, these names were actually very appropriate. Redneck was originally a term used to identify radical Scottish Presbyterian pastors, who wore red collars. Hillbilly was the name given to supporters of King William, or "King Billy", during the Glorious Revolution.

"The winners write the history books", and that was certainly true in the case of the War for Southern Independence. Revisionist history has villainized the South, and the issues of the war, for almost a hundred years. "But what many historians miss-and what those who react so strongly to seeing Confederate battle flags on car bumpers and in the yards of descendants of Confederate veterans do not understand-is that slavery was emphatically not the reason that most individual Southerners fought so long and hard, and at such overwhelming cost. Slavery may have been the catalytic issue from a governmental perspective, and its moral dimensions may have motivated many Northerners, but other factors, some cultural and some historical, brought most of the Confederate soldiers to the battlefield. And that was particularly true among the communities in the Scots-Irish heartland that provided the bulk of the Confederate Army's manpower." (Born Fighting, pg 211)

It seemed that the Scots-Irish had vanished from the earth, and most of them had, but the Lord preserved a remnant. I am blessed and proud to say, I am part of that remnant.


I should be able to wrap this series up in Part 5!

Author's Note: If any of my readers are interested in reading more about the Scots-Irish influence on the South and particularly the Southern fighting style, I would recommend: Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South and Attack and Die, both by Grady McWhiney.

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