The passage of more than one hundred years since The Scotch-Irish in America was first published in 1915 has rendered the book no less fascinating and gripping. Written in a thoroughly accessible way, it tells the story of how the hardy breed of men and women, who in America came to be known as the ‘Scotch-Irish’, was forged in the north of Ireland during the seventeenth century. It relates the circumstances under which the great exodus to the New World began, the trials and tribulations faced by these tough American pioneers and the enduring influence they came to exert on the politics, education and religion of the country. The author had this to say about the characteristics of the Scotch-Irish:
“Whatever questions be raised as to the controlling heredity in particular cases there can be no question that there is a distinct Scotch-Irish type of frame and physiognomy. It is well known and easily recognized. The long chin gives a characteristic square effect to the lower part of the face. One may notice it in the pictures of Woodrow Wilson as in the pictures of Andrew Jackson. And the race character is as persistent as the physical type. Professor [James] Heron’s description of the distinguishing characteristics of the Ulster Scots is applicable also to their kinsmen, the Scotch-Irish in America:
An economy and even parsimony of words, which does not always betoken a poverty of ideas; an insuperable dislike to wear his heart upon his sleeve, or make a display of the deeper and more tender feelings of his nature; a quiet and undemonstrative deportment which may have great firmness and determination behind it; a dour exterior which may cover a really genial disposition and kindly heart; much caution, wariness and reserve, but a decision, energy of character, and tenacity of purpose, which, as in the case of Enoch Arden, ‘hold his will and bear it through’; a very decided practical faculty which has an eye on the main chance, but which may co-exist with a deep-lying fund of sentiment; a capacity for hard work and close application to business, which, with thrift and patient persistence, is apt to bear fruit in considerable success; in short, a reserve of strength, self-reliance, courage and endurance, which, when an emergency demands (as behind the Walls of Derry), may surprise the world.
The activity and influence of that race have a securely established importance among the factors of American history.”
Henry Jones Ford (1851–1925), was a professor of politics at Princeton University. He wrote a number of books on the political and constitutional history of the United States, as well as a biographical study of his friend, Woodrow Wilson, who was of Scotch-Irish descent.
This new edition, with reset text and revised index, includes a biographical note on the author. The cover image is from the painting Climbing the Western Slope by the American historical artist H. David Wright.