Monday Books: A 'Stubborn Breed' Who Shaped This Great Nation; the Making of America: How the Scots-Irish Shaped a Nation by Billy Kennedy. Published by Causeway Press/Ambassador Emerald International. 188 Pages. Pounds 9.99 ($15 in US)

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), October 1, 2001 | Go to article overview

Monday Books: A 'Stubborn Breed' Who Shaped This Great Nation; the Making of America: How the Scots-Irish Shaped a Nation by Billy Kennedy. Published by Causeway Press/Ambassador Emerald International. 188 Pages. Pounds 9.99 ($15 in US)


Byline: STEVEN MOORE

THE Ulster-Scots, or Scotch-Irish as the Americans prefer to refer to them, are a stubborn lot. In the 225-year history of the United States, it is this breed of determined Ulster Presbyterian who has thrived on hardship and boldly gone where others have feared to tread.

Nor, given their treatment at home where they were denied full religious and civil rights, were they prepared to stand any nonsense from the English.

"It's a long way to London" was a popular response when Parliament attempted to tell the new settlers what they could and could not do in America.

It was this general disrespect for a discredited authority, and a determination that they deserved a better life, which was the backbone to the birth of the new American state.

Billy Kennedy, in the seventh of his popular chronicles on the Scots-Irish, tells the story of the creation of today's superpower through the eyes the tens of thousands of recently-arrived settlers from Ulster.

The book, The Making of America: How the Scots-Irish Shaped A Nation, is the tale of both remarkable individuals and the small close-knit communities from which they emerged.

The Ulster-Scots were credited with bringing about the political atmosphere which made the signing of the American Declaration of Independence, on July 4, 1776, possible.

Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration, nine had Ulster links: John Hancock, Thomas McKean, George Taylor, James Smith, Mathew Thornton, Edward Rutledge, William Whipple, Robert Paine and Thomas Nelson.

Maghera-born Charles Thomson, secretary to the American Continental Congress, also signed the declaration, but strictly because of the office that he held, while Strabane man John Dunlap printed the first copies, and Colonel John Nixon, grandson of Ulster immigrants, gave the first reading in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776.

The English were initially not over-concerned at the Ulster Presbyterian threat with the Prime Minister of the day, Horace Walpole, jibing to his cabinet: "I hear that our American cousin has run off with a Presbyterian parson."

However, many shared the views of Philadelphia writer Colonel A. K. McClure, who said: "It was the Scotch-Irish people of the colonies that made the Declaration of 1776. Without them it would not have been thought of except as a fancy. …

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Monday Books: A 'Stubborn Breed' Who Shaped This Great Nation; the Making of America: How the Scots-Irish Shaped a Nation by Billy Kennedy. Published by Causeway Press/Ambassador Emerald International. 188 Pages. Pounds 9.99 ($15 in US)
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