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Ulster to America

The Scots-Irish Migration Experience, 1680–1830

Edited by Warren R. Hofstra

Publication Year: 2011

For years, immigrants from Ulster have been viewed through a monochromatic lens as hard living, hard fighting, individualistic, elitist, and resistant to authority. This groundbreaking new collection of essays challenges that entrenched view, presenting a more nuanced perspective on the Scots-Irish settlers and the crucial role they played in shaping the broader American culture. In Ulster to America: The Scots-Irish Migration Experience, 1680–1830, editor Warren R. Hofstra has gathered contributions from pioneering scholars who are rewriting the history of the Scots-Irish. In addition to presenting fresh information based on thorough and detailed research, they offer cutting-edge interpretations that help explain the Scots-Irish experience in the United States. In place of implacable Scots-Irish individualism, the writers stress the urge to build communities among Ulster immigrants. In place of rootlessness and isolation, the authors point to the trans-Atlantic continuity of Scots-Irish settlement and the presence of Germans and Anglo-Americans in so-called Scots-Irish areas. In a variety of ways, the book asserts, the Scots-Irish actually modified or abandoned some of their own cultural traits as a result of interacting with people of other backgrounds and in response to many of the main themes defining American history. While the Scots-Irish myth has proved useful over time to various groups with their own agendas—including modern-day conservatives and fundamentalist Christians—this book, by clearing away long-standing but erroneous ideas about the Scots-Irish, represents a major advance in our understanding of these immigrants. It also places Scots-Irish migration within the broader context of the historiographical construct of the Atlantic world. Organized in chronological and migratory order, this volume includes contributions on specific U.S. centers for Ulster immigrants: New Castle, Delaware; Donegal Springs, Pennsylvania; Carlisle, Pennsylvania; Opequon, Virginia; the Virginia frontier; the Carolina backcountry; southwestern Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. Ulster to America is essential reading for scholars and students of American history, immigration history, local history, and the colonial era, as well as all those who seek a fuller understanding of the Scots-Irish immigrant story.

Published by: The University of Tennessee Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

Figures / Maps

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

A project as large and complex as this one inevitably incurs many debts on its way to completion. It began as an affiliation among most of the authors in consulting with the professional staff of the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, Northern Ireland, about the expansion of its outdoor exhibits...

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Introduction: From the North of Ireland to North America: The Scots-Irish and the Migration Experience

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pp. xi-xxvii

American history, especially early American history, has long been narrated as a migration experience. The movement of English peoples to the portion of mainland North America that became the United States has traditionally dominated the story. The sites of English contact—Jamestown, Plymouth...

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Searching for a New World: The Background and Baggage of Scots-Irish Immigrants

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pp. 1-23

What actually moves when someone migrates? If humans were no different from other species, we might be content to concern ourselves solely with the movement of the individual human being and be satisfied with a mere biological explanation of how and why that movement occurs: a description...

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Searching for Land: The Role of New Castle, Delaware, 1720s–1770s

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pp. 25-49

After almost a century of emigration from Ireland to the West Indies and the Chesapeake Bay colonies, the eighteenth-century migration flow shifted to include New England, South Carolina, and the mid-Atlantic colonies of British North America. Beginning with the first wave in the late 1710s...

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Searching for Order: Donegal Springs, Pennsylvania, 1720s–1730s

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pp. 51-76

In October 1727 Sidney Gamble Smith, wife of Samuel Smith, made the long journey from the Donegal settlement on the banks of the Susquehanna River to Philadelphia “on purpose” to explain to James Logan, agent for the Penn family, a disagreement about land on the Pennsylvania...

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Searching for Community: Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 1750s–1780s

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pp. 77-103

In 1769 an anonymous writer in the Pennsylvania Chronicle sketched a picture of a potential Scotch-Irish, linen-making region in the Pennsylvania back-country. He had seen an advertisement for a proposed new town to be laid out on the Juniata River and took this as his starting...

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Searching for Peace and Prosperity: Opequon Settlement, Virginia, 1730s–1760s

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pp. 105-122

Winter was spreading its hoary frosts and deep, cold silences across the Shenandoah Valley late in 1731 when a party of sixteen families—perhaps one hundred men, women, and children—arrived at the Opequon Creek in the marchlands of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley...

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Searching for Status: Virginia’s Irish Tract, 1770s–1790s

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pp. 123-146

The first major literary depiction of the Scotch-Irish in the southern United States was the 1824 novel The Valley of the Shenandoah by George Tucker. In this landmark novel, a gentleman from a bankrupt coastal Virginia family travels to the interior of the commonwealth, searching for a way to improve...

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Searching for Security: Backcountry Carolina, 1760s–1780s

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pp. 147-163

What images come most readily to mind when we think of early American colonies? Beyond the dockside where ships unloaded their cargoes and emigrant passengers (such as the one for Philadelphia recreated at the Ulster American Folk Park in Northern Ireland today), what was the landscape...

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Searching for “Irish” Freedom—Settling for “Scotch-Irish” Respectability: Southwestern Pennsylvania, 1780–1810

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pp. 165-210

Most histories of Scots-Irish1 settlement in the New World end triumphantly with the American Revolution. In the half-century or so after the Revolution, however, many more Ulster Presbyterians (with other Irish immigrants) left Ireland for the United States than had journeyed to Britain’s North...

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Searching for Independence: Revolutionary Kentucky, Irish American Experience, and Scotch-Irish Myth, 1770s–1790s

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pp. 211-232

When considering the early experience of migrants from Ireland to America, some places and dates quickly come to mind: Donegal, Pennsylvania, in the early 1720s; the Shenandoah in the 1740s; as well as Washington, Pennsylvania, in the 1790s. In each of these settings, men and women whom...

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Afterword: Historic Political Moderation in the Ulster-to-America Diaspora

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pp. 233-250

The trek of Lowland Scots first to Elizabethan Ulster (beginning in the 1590s), of Ulster Scots to British colonial North America (peaking in the 1730s and 1740s), and the spread of the Scotch-Irish finally from Pennsylvania and the Virginia Piedmont into the Carolina backcountry (1750s–60s)...


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pp. 251-254


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pp. 255-263

E-ISBN-13: 9781572338326
E-ISBN-10: 1572338326
Print-ISBN-13: 9781572337541
Print-ISBN-10: 1572337540

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 2 graphs, 11 maps
Publication Year: 2011