Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South

By Grady McWhiney | Go to book overview

II
Heritage

THOSE Celts who migrated to the southern part of what became the United States brought with them from the British Isles a host of habits and traditions that distinguished them both from the Englishmen who stayed at home and from the Englishmen who settled New England. American textbooks often give the impression that the people of the British Isles were more alike than different, but contemporary observers reported Celtic culture to be quite unlike English culture. "Their customs how different from ours," wrote an Englishman of eighteenth-century Scots. "[After crossing the border between England and Scotland] the first Scotch village you enter . . . the change of manners, dress, and character, strike most forcibly. . . . Their faces . . . were different from their [English] neighbours. . . . Edinburgh must strike with the most forcible impression every Englishman: its buildings are so dissimilar to ours, [and] . . . old High Street . . . resembles no street in England."1

Many travelers noted the divergence between Scottish and English looks and ways, and they frequently observed that the border country between England and Scotland appeared to be far more Scottish than English. "I had entered a considerable way into England [from Scotland] ere I was struck by the peculiarities of the English face and figure," confessed a nineteenth-century visitor. "There is no . . . palpable difference between the borderers of Northumberland [in England] and those of Roxburghshire [in Scotland]. . . . But, as the traveller advances on the midland counties, the English cast of person and countenance becomes very apparent. The harder frame and thinner face of the northern tribes disappear shortly after one leaves Newcastle; and one meets, instead, with ruddy, fleshy, compactly-built Englishmen, of the true national type." An eighteenth-

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1
R. L. Willis, Journal of a Tour from London to Elgin made about 1790 . . . ( Edinburgh, 1897), 73, 43, 47.

-23-

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Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Prologue xxi
  • I - Settlement 1
  • II - Heritage 23
  • III - Herding 51
  • IV - Hospitality 80
  • V - Pleasures 105
  • VI - Violence 146
  • VII - Moral 171
  • VIII - Education 193
  • IX - Progress 218
  • X - Worth 245
  • XI - Collision 268
  • Appendix - Sources on the Origins of Surnames 273
  • Index 278
  • About the Author 291
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