The Scotch-Irish: A Social History
© 1989 James Leyburn
Though they have long ceased to be a distinct ethnic group outside of Appalachia, for years the greatest non-English minority in the United States were the Scotch-Irish. Theirs is a history riven with politics, for they were created by it and became the shapers of it once they moved to America. The Scotch-Irish appraises not only their political history, however, but the evolution of their character, distinct culture, and social institutions. It is a triptych, the story of a people told across three lands. The story begins in Scotland, a place slow to join the Renaissance, but quick to grasp the Reformation. Scotland indeed became a hotbed of diehard Presbyterianism, and as the Crown began supporting the established Anglican church more firmly, it drove Puritans into the Netherlands and Presbys into Scotland. Of course, the Crown wanted more Protestants in Ireland; a good strong community of them could withstand Gaelic wiles and serve to consolidate the Crown’s position. The Ulster plantation soon developed a culture distinct from Scotland’s, despite constant emigration from it, and Leyburn devotes particular attention to the social power of the Presbyterian church as it branched out. Ultimately, rent hikes would drive many of the “Ulster Scots” to America, where their loathing for the crown and aggressive westward rambling would spur on the Revolution. Leyburn offers state-by-state tracking of the Scotch-Irish as they grew in number began filling the interior, making this social history of immense value to students of colonial history, complete with deep background in Irish and Scottish history.
- Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America, Jim Webb
- The English People on the Eve of Colonization, Wallace Notestein
- The Americans: the Colonial Experience, Daniel Boorstin