Presbyterian Church in Ireland web site Ulster Settlers in America The Very Reverend Howard Cromie, BA, B. D., M. A., D. D.,

DEDICATED To ALAN and DAVID

 
 
 

Chapter VI

They Provided Leadership

To mark the Bi-centenary of the American Declaration of Independence the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland sent the follow­ing message to the State Authorities in America: "The extent of the Ulster Presbyterian contribution to the founding of your nation encourages us, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, to send this fraternal message of greetings on the occasion of the Bi‑centenary celebra­tions.

  "We remember with gratitude how in the eighteenth century, in a time of economic adversity and of reli­gious persecution, hundreds of thousands of Ulster Presbyterians found in America a place of refuge and religious freedom. We remember how in the nineteenth century, when famine and starvation stalked our native land, America opened its doors to many of our fellow countrymen, providing them with a new beginning in life.

  "In the days of the building and moulding of your country into the great nation it has become, a basic character of the Ulster Presbyterian people and the freedom they found in America enabled them to play a vital part at every level of the new society. Some served as governors and statesmen, as ambassadors and senators, as college presidents and eminent divines, as generals and soldiers, as leaders of the press and as merchant princes. Many of those called to the Presi­dency had Ulster blood.

  "Our links with you, forged in almost three hundred years of history are strong and binding.

  “At this time of commemoration and celebration we pray that God may bless and prosper your land and people”.

  That was an appropriate message to send because the links between Ulster and America are "strong and binding".

  One has only got to look at the fist of men who have held the high office of the Presidency of the United States to see something of the contribution Ulster bas made towards the moulding of the nation.

  An accurate estimate of the number of Presidents of Scotch-Irish origin is difficult to arrive at because such figures depend on the degree of blood relation­ship on which claim is made. The Ulster-Scot Histori­cal Society in their search for ancestral homesteads accepted only those of direct Scotch-Irish descent. Even accepting this limited definition the number amounts to ten-a fairly sizable proportion.

  Their names and the years of their Presidency are as follows:
 

Andrew Jackson, 1828-37. Grover Cleveland, 1885-89 and 1893-97.
James Knox Polk, 1845-49. Benjamin Harrison, 1889-93.
James Buchanan, 1857-61. William McKinley, 1897-1901.
Andrew Johnson, 1865-69. James Woodrow Wilson, 1913-21.
Ulysses Simpson Grant, 1869-77.  
Chester Alan Arthur, 1881-85  

In the ninety-two years from the start of Andrew Jackson's Presidency to the end of Woodrow Wilson's the White House was occupied for fifty-six of those years by men of Scotch‑Irish descent. In addition, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, James Munro Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower were all proud of the fact that on their maternal side they too, had Ulster blood in their veins.

  It is a rule of the American Constitution that the office of President can only be held by those who were born in America. In the full history of the United States, there have been only three first generation Americans to become President and all three of them were Scotch­-Irish. These were Jackson, Buchanan and Arthur, whose fathers were born in Ulster.

  In the two hundred years of American history, only one President, John F. Kennedy, could claim to be of actual Southern Irish descent. His forebears came from Wexford in the nineteenth century.

  Following the War of Independence, there were thirteen States. Of the first Governors of these no less than seven were of Ulster origin. Since then they have been followed in office by a long succession of men of Scotch‑Irish descent. W. F. Marshall lists thirty‑seven of the most outstanding ones.

  Reference has been made already to the leadership provided by the Scotch‑Irish in the Church, in Education, in the Army. Space does not permit pursuing these particular avenues further. For the same reason one can only give passing reference to a few of those of Ulster stock who have taken the lead in a variety of other fields.

  In printing, for example, we note that John Dunlap, who came from Strabane, and who learned his trade there in Gray's Printing Shop, not only first printed the Declaration of independence, but he also printed the first newspaper in America.

  Andrew Brown published the first issue of the Phila­delphia Gazette. Horace Greeley founded the "New York Tribune". James Adams founded the Wilmington Consort. Joseph Madill was proprietor of the Chicago Tribune. Robert Bonner was founder of the New York Ledger.

  The Ulster settlers in America produced such giants of literature as Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

  The Scotch-Irish produced their share of leaders in commerce and industry loo. Such names could be men­tioned as Robert Fulton, the pioneer in steamboat  building and Samuel Finlay Morse, the inventor of the famous Morse Code.

  Agriculture was basic to the development of life in America. Few inventions contributed more to the ad­vance of agriculture than the reaping machine pro­duced by Cyrus McCormack. the Scotch-Irishman whose ancestors fought in the Siege of Derry. His name is remembered too, through his founding of McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

  One of Ulsters best known modem benefactors is Dr. Matthew T. Mellon through whose generosity, the Folk Park at Camphill Omagh. in Co. Tyrone is being developed There the homestead in which his grand­father had been reared has been restored and a replica built of the Presbyterian Church in which he had wor­shipped and the school which he had attended, as well as other buildings of interest depicting fife both in Ulster and America two hundred years ago.

  Thomas Mellon left Camphill in 1818 at the age of five with his parents to emigrate to Pennsylvania. Later he became a Judge. Over the years Judge Thomas Mellon and his family developed the Mellon National Bank and Trust Company, one of the ten largest in the United States. They have been considerable public benefactors in America, building the famous East Liberty Presbyterian Climb in Pittsburg, founding the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research and the School of Business Administration at Carnegie-Mellon Uni­versity. Dr. Matthew T. Mellon. millionaire industrialist is proud of his Scotch-Irish roots and so contributed 250.000 dollars to establish the Scotch-Irish Trust of Ulster.

  When thinking of leadership one's mind turns to Thomas Jonathan Jackson, better known as "Stonewall" Jackson. He was an Ulster-Scot. His great grand­father, John Jackson, was born at the Birches, Co. Armagh. and went to America about 1748. "Stonewall" Jackson was an elder of the Church and a man with remarkable powers of leadership. He was one of the most daring generals who fought on the southern side in the Civil War of 1861‑65. Whittier immortalized him in "Barbara Fritchie".

 

Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead
Under his slouched hat, left and right,
He glanced! the old flag met his sight.

We see him now-the queer, slouched hat,
Cocked o'er the eye askew;
The shrewd dry smile; the speech so pat;
So calm, so blunt, so true;
The 'Blue-light Elder ...
Silence! Ground arms! Kneel all! Caps off!
Old Massa's going to pray.
Strangle the fool that dares to scoff;
Attention.! its his way.
Appealing from his native sod.
'In forma pauperis' to God,
'Lay bare thine arm! Stretch forth thy rod'.

He's in the saddle now. Fall in!
Steady the whole brigade;
Hill's at the ford, cut off; we'll win
His way out, ball and blade.
What matter if our shoes are worn?
What matter if our feet are torn?
Quick step! we're with him before morn
That's Stonewall Jackson's way".
Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead
Under his slouched hat, left and right,
He glanced! the old flag met his sight.

We see him now-the queer, slouched hat,
Cocked o'er the eye askew;
The shrewd dry smile; the speech so pat;
So calm, so blunt, so true;
The 'Blue-light Elder ...
Silence! Ground arms! Kneel all! Caps off!
Old Massa's going to pray.
Strangle the fool that dares to scoff;
Attention.! its his way.
Appealing from his native sod.
'In forma pauperis' to God,
'Lay bare thine arm! Stretch forth thy rod'.

He's in the saddle now. Fall in!
Steady the whole brigade;
Hill's at the ford, cut off; we'll win
His way out, ball and blade.
What matter if our shoes are worn?
What matter if our feet are torn?
Quick step! we're with him before morn
That's Stonewall Jackson's way".
 


President Theodore Roosevelt in his book "The Winning of the West" says the Scotch‑Irish “formed the kernel of the distinctively and intensely American stock who were the pioneers of our people in their march westward, the vanguard of the army of fighting settlers who with axe and rifle won this way from the Alleghanies to the Rio Grande and the Pacific . . . The Presbyterian Irish stock furnished Andrew Jackson, Samuel Houston, David Crockett, James Robertson Lewis, the leader of the backwoods hosts in their first great victory over the north western Indians, and Camp­bell, their commander in their first great victory over the British . . . That these Irish Presbyterians were a bold and hardy race is proved by their at once push­ing past the settled regions, and plunging into the wild­erness as the leaders of the white advance. They were the first and last immigrants to do this; all others have merely followed in the wake of their predecessors”.70

Ulster's contribution to the founding of the United States of America was in the men, women and young people who left home and kindled to seek a new life m anew land. What they were was infinitely more im­portant than the meagre possessions they brought with them.

In the light of the challenges that face us in Ulster and our cousins in America today, we would do well on both our sides of the Atlantic, to remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Not gold, but only men can make
A nation great and strong;
Men who for truth and honour's sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

  Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others shy,
They build a nation's pillars deep,
And lift them to the sky.  


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The writing of even a short historical summary such as is contained here places the writer in a debt to many people. This I gladly acknowledge.

I am grateful to those who encouraged me to write this brief account of our peoples contribution to the emergence of a great nation.

To the Very Rev. Dr. Austin A. Fulton, to whom. I owe so much already through my association with him over the years, for the Foreword which he has so written.

To the Very Rev. Dr. John T. Carson, the Editor of the Presbyterian Historical Society Bulletin, for his help once advice .so freely given.

To Mrs. McMordie of the Historical Society Office, for her willing assistance in research.

To the Rev. T. J. Hagan and the staff of the Irish Mission for their helpfulness and encouragement.

To the Rev. Ivan Hull for reading the proofs.

To my wife for her assistance in the preparation of the manuscript for printing.

To all, I convey my warmest appreciation.

Lisburn, Easter, 1976

HOWARD CROMIE.

REFERENCES
1. Winston S. Churchill "History of the Second World War". 23. Boyd S. Schlenther. "The Influence of Irish Presbyterian­ism".
2. Barkley. "A Short History of the Presbyterian Church" P. 19. 24. L. J. Trinterud, "Forming an American Tradition ", p. 34,
3. Marshall, "Ulster Sails West", p. 9. 25. Governor Gilmer, "Georgia and Kentucky".  
4. Woodburn, "The Ulster Scot", p. 212. 26. Bradley, "The Nineteenth Century".
5. Woodburn, p. 214. 27. Roosevelt, "Episodes from the Winning of the West', Vol. H,p.15.
6. Marshall, p. 12. 28. J. T. Adams, “The Epic of America".
7. Marshall, p. 13. 29. Marshall, p. 27.
8. Witherow, "Presbyterian Memorials" Vol. I, p. 241. 30. Wright, P.22
9. Marion Douglas "Londonderry (America) Celebration of 1969", p. 59. 31. Schlenther, P. 5.
10. Perry "The Scotch‑Irish in New England". 32. Wright, P. 23.
11. Marshall. P. 18. 33. Wright, p. 23.
12. Schlenther, "Influence of Irish Presbyterianism". 34. Wright, p. 22.

13.

Condon, "The Irish Race in America" p. 27. 35. Hanna,"The Scotch-Irish, Vol, I", P 76.
14. Lecky, "History of Ireland in 18th Century, Vol. 1" p. 247. 36. Marshall. P. 48.
15. "Life of King", p. 207. 37. Albert Maisel, "The Scottish-Americans", p. 57.
16. Lecky. II P. 261 38. Wright, P. 24.
17. Young, "Tour of Ireland, Vol. II" p. 56. 39. Wright, P. 24.
18. Marshall, p. 8. 40. Schlenther, P. 8.
19. Estyn Evans. "Essays in Scotch-Irish History'", p. 73. 41.  Wright, P. 24
20. Esmond Wright, "Essays in Scotch-Irish History", p. 22. 42. Schlenther, P. 9.
21. President Theodore Roosevelt, "Episodes from Winning of the West". 43. Woodburn, p. 383.
22. Charles Hanna, "The Scotch-Irish. 44.  Marshall, p. 49.
    45. Wright, P. 26.