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How Scots-Irish Rascals Made America, by Karen F. McCarthy.
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NEW YORK--It was with some surprise that I happened upon the little known story of the mass migration of Protestants from Ireland to America in the 1700s, 150 years before the Catholic Irish arrived on Ellis Island. It was even more surprising to find that they have had more influence over the creation and character of the nation than the Irish of New York, Boston, and Chicago, the Irish of Kennedy repute.
My search for this lost chapter of the Irish Diaspora took me from Dublin to Belfast and into some of the remotest regions of the South. It was a journey on which I discovered the extraordinary contribution these intrepid migrants made to American culture and character.
I learned why they produced American legends like Davy Crockett, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King, why they became Second Amendment traditionalists, politically conservative, and devoutly Christian. I discovered what led them to invent country music and America's biggest spectator sport. I also learned what few Europeans understand: why no presidential hopeful seems to be able to win the White House without some help from their Southern enclaves.
From the beginning the Scots-Irish were a different breed. Hardworking, religiously devout Presbyterians, they arrived in the north of Ireland in the 1600s at the behest of King James I of England, who was keen to colonize the country. Despite constant fighting with the Irish, they managed to set up a thriving merchant colony and celebrated their ability to freely practice Presbyterianism, far from the interfering Anglican bishops of England.
Yet not 100 years later they were setting sail on brigantines for the New World, driven off the land by the English government's tax hikes, rack-renting, and religious persecution when their linen industry grew too competitive and their religious practices too independent.
On those ships they brought their expectations for a warm welcome in a Protestant country. But it was not to be. Their sheer numbers and feisty nature overwhelmed Boston, prompting one man to cry, "There are more Irish than people here."
And so, partly bribed and partly coerced, they tumbled down the Appalachians into the welcoming arms of the Virginia and Carolina colonial governors who were only too happy to have hardy settlers buffer them from the Indians.