Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Scotch-Irish

The Scotch-Irish: A Social History
© 1989 James Leyburn
397 pages

        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.



  1. Wow! I really must read this, especially since I am likely to see some branches of my family tree within the pages. Thanks for the review!

  2. I think you will find plenty of detail to pore over!


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