Scottish and Scots-Irish Celts
by Cecilia Fabos-Becker
You may may not realize that more than half of ALL Americans today have many Scots, Scots-Irish, Anglo-Scots or Irish/Anglo-Irish ancestors. You may may not realize that our American Independence was born of the pain and oppression the majority of our founding peoples experienced, for centuries, here in America as in these well as in Ireland and Scotland. In fact, our U.S. Constitution, and the very government we live under, arose as a direct result of the abuse these Celtic ancestors received, primarily under English rule.
Scots and Scots-Irish comprised either fully or partly the ancestry of about half the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and nearly three-quarters of Washington's army and more than one-half of his officers corps, were Scots, Irish, and Scots-Irish. These revolutionary leaders, the founding fathers and mothers of our nation, were determined such tyranny would never happen again.'Many of our cherished rights are the direct result of such bullying. For example, in 1707, the citizens of Scotland lost their right to representative government.
The 'Act of Union' was a shot-gun marriage imposed on Scotland under the credible threat of English invasion, should the Scottish parliament not approve the Act. In so doing, the Scottish parliament dissolved itself, Scotland ceased to be a nation, and the 'United Kingdom' was created in it's place. At that time, Scotland had about 2/3 the population of England, but received only 4 seats in a parliament of over 100 members, fewer seats than tiny Cornwall! Scottish citizens were thus stripped of any influence in the so-called Union parliament, and also how their taxes were to be disbursed. No wonder that their descendants created our U.S. Constitution guaranteeing 'one man, one vote' in our new nation.'
You may not realize that in at that time, Presbyterians in America were virtually all Scots and Scots-Irish. Their influence on our revolt was strong and pervasive. One of the most eloquent and influencial was Rev. John Witherspoon, a Scots-Presbyterian minister and later President of Princeton University, but also a former friend and mentor of England's Prime Minister, Horace Walpole. In fact, upon hearing the news of the rebellion in America, King George III of England asked his Prime Minister, what had happened. Walpole replied, "Cousin America has run off with a Presbyterian parson, and there is no help for it."
However, Witherspoon himself had been influenced by Scots-Irish Rev. Alexander Craighead, who as early as 1748, wrote in his 'Renewal of the Covenants, National and Solemn League; "... To the Calvinistic system of principles and the Presbyterian form of government, this nation (the newly evolved American people) is largely indebted for its civil independence and republican polity."
Rev. Craighead had been in Pennsylvania, Virginia and finally North Carolina leaving adherents in all three colonies, including other prominent ministers and members of colonial legislatures. His father, Rev. Thomas Craighead, held similar views, and had been in Massachusetts, New Jersey, what became Delaware and then Pennsylvania. They also expressed strong beliefs in religious freedom and that all religions should be treated by government equally and protected, made secure from persecution and harm to its leaders, but none should be part of government. The Presbyterian churches had elected councils of churches and both men and women voted and could serve as elders. Similarly, Quakers also had male and female elders elected from their meetings. Additionally, both of these churches believed in educating sons and daughters so neither men, nor their wives would be cheated in contracts they could not read, nor become impoverished through not being able to understand basic arithmetic and money and through ignorance, then become charity burdens on the churches and their communities. Public education started with the Scots, Scots-Irish and Quakers, who included Scots and Irish among themselves also.'Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure had its roots in part in the political persecution and imprisonment of people who were members of anything other than the official Church of England, especially the leaders.
The most numerous and worst of such persecutions took place in Scotland and Ireland, the worst starting in the mid-1600's. There were also more sinister experiences of searches, seizures, trials and imprisonments instigated by 'secret accusers,' and trials by secret accusers, using false-front witnesses and secret evidence. Neither the secret accusers nor secret evidence could be confronted or rebutted by the victims. People were tried and imprisoned in this manner on the cause of treason, which support of a non-official religion was, and could lose their entire means of sustenance or their lives without ever knowing who accused them and on what basis. The worst experiences were suffered by those who were not among the highest gentry. This led to a strong belief in the right of individuals to know their accusers and the evidence in trials and be able to refute them and to have an objective jury of their peers.'None of these so fundamental rights guarenteed in our American Constitution and Laws originated in England. English monarchs, often supported by their parliaments, had spent centuries denying and violently suppressing any expression of these now universally accepted human rights. As for the notion, sometimes expressed in PBS documentaries, that at the least the English kings were responsible for setting up the colonies and allowing the Scots and Irish to emigrate to them is also a distortion. The first king to set up and strongly support colonies in North America was James VI, who had been king of Scotland for about 15 years before being given the second crown of England as James I of England. This dual king was a Scot of the family name Stuart who spoke with a pronounced brogue and besides English, could speak Erse, Scots Gaelic, fluently.'All but one of the North America colonies were created/established under these Scottish-Stuart kings, in part as a deliberate effort to relieve the overpopulation of largely unarable Scotland and parts of Ireland as well. Until just about the mid-19th century, between 80 and 90% of all persons made their living by farming and at home 'cottage industries' related to their, and their immediate neighbors', farming products. Even small town and village tradesmen and craftsmen all had small farms to supplement their business incomes and feed their families.'
In the American Revolution, about 2/3 of the enlisted men in the entire Continental (patriot) army were Scots, Scots-Irish or Irish. More than half of the officer corps was likewise. The budding navy under John Paul Jones was nearly entirely Scots and Scots-Irish. Most of the members of the Continental Congress who wrote the Declaration of Independence, and later most of the members of the Constitutional Convention were of Scots, Scots-Irish and Irish descent.'Thus the United States of America is in reality, the greatest Celtic nation of them all and a testament to the perseverance across milennia of Celtic thought, culture and will. Its people should never forget who they and their nation are.