Scotch-Irish Religion

Source:The Scotch-Irish in America
Author:Samuel Swett Green

The Scotch-Irish came to this country full of bitter feeling towards the government of Great Britain. They had been oppressed by that government and they believed that it had wickedly broken faith with them. They hated, too, the hierarchy of the Church of England. Presbyterians as they were, they had been oppressed by that hierarchy. They sympathized, also, with the Puritans of New England, who regarded the presence here of bishops and other ecclesiastics of the Church of England as the presence of the emissaries of a foreign power that was trying to reduce them to subjection.

It was largely through Scotch-Irish influence and support that religious liberty was established in Virginia and elsewhere throughout this country. These showed themselves when, in 1776, Patrick Henry, a Scotchman, as before stated, led in the movement which secured the insertion in the famous Bill of Rights of Virginia of the declaration that one of the inalienable rights of man is his right to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience.

It was through the pressure of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians that Jefferson, in the next session of the assembly, was prompted to write, and by their votes that he secured the passage of, the act for the establishment of religious liberty, which has done so much to effect the divorce of Church and State in Virginia and throughout the Union.

In contemplating the wide-reaching results of the example set here in America, Mr. William Wirt Henry is led to add to a statement similar to the one just made, “Thus there was completed by the Scotch-Irish in Virginia, in 1776, the Reformation commenced by Luther two hundred and fifty years before.”[54]

The passage of more than one hundred years since The Scotch-Irish in America by Henry Jones Ford 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. This book is a comprehensive and very informative account of the history of the Scotch-Irish in America.