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Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1998-02 > 0886537813

From: linda Merle <>
Subject: Re: Stab at a notion of who our ancestors were
Date: Tue, 03 Feb 1998 12:30:13 -0800

Hi Martin,

thanks for your comments. I was hoping to get some going.

I like the idea of masterless men too -- what an empowerment of the
dispossessed! It kinda goes with my theory that the vast seas of
people whose ancestors were not famous are really the important
folk. We know what the Spencers and the Middletons are going to do.
We don't know what the masterless men with the unmapped genes will
think or do. They are the creative part of humanity.

> I suspect they were always there.

Yes, probably every society has a underlayer of people who are not
"in the system". I wonder what that was in the USSR?

> I am curious about one point in American history - the orientation difference
> between the factory North and the Rural South at the time of the American
> Civil War. I thought for some time that the difference was religious and
> economic. Now I think otherwise. The Virginia Colony was certainly an
> official colony - establishment people, royalists, etc. SC was similar. A
> more recent settlement in Texas by Germans was done by subscription. I
> offer a thesis that the primarily agricultural settlers of the early South
> and later midwest and west were not necessarily masterless dispossessed
> people, but surplus agriculturists
> who were younger sons, etc, and were attracted more by the land opportunity
> than by the religious-political freedoms. Agriculturists are not
> "masterless". The land, or the bank, or the cooperative, are "masters". The
> New England settlers on the other hand, and the Pennsylvania and Maryland
> colonies, were most likely the masterless people. They are the people who
> developed the entreprenurial economy and the form of capitalism we have today.

I wonder too about how to account for the differences here. Have you
Fischer's "Albion's Seed"? He accounts for the difference in terms of
British folkways; however I am becoming aware that his grasp of British
in the 1700's was not profound and I am uncomfortable with his mapping
border and Ulster culture to the same. I think he missed the
of both cultures -- ie some Ulster scots were well behaved, contained
of society and some were 'masterless men'. And ditto for the border

> This may account somewhat for the liberal political philosophy of many New
> Englanders vs the conservatism of the Bible belt agriculturists.

Yes -- he does seem to explain that difference!

He sees two British folk cultures in the Virginias -- those younger sons
you mention, as well as exiled Royalists, and, though he did not, early
entepreneurs like Sir Hugh Middleton out making money. Hugh was a middle
class kinda guy whose rise to wealth and fame challenged the old blood
aristocracy, according to Hill.

> Your point about the political orientation is very good also. I am
> convinced that the roots of the American Civil War are in the English Civil
> War and the
> slavery issue was just the focal point, but not the real reason.

>From what I have read, slavery was not the focal issue too. Probably
(I would add here my ancesters were northerners) Northern propaganda.
On the other hand the Reform Presby church was very against it. It was
involved for about 3 generations in the underground railway in Western
PA. Fischer says it was a cultural difference that was quite profound.
At its most extreme -- Boston Puritans, predominantly from East Essex,
versus Royalist culture from the western counties. He even traces these
difference to food.

>The real
> reason is the political philosophy differences between the "masterless" and
> those who accepted masters, which is rooted in the English civil war and
> earlier conflicts.

Yes, except it appears the Englsih civil war was not one but several and
between two groups of people but at least three.

> I think we should be careful, though, about extending the English situation
> to the Scotch Irish . There are both types of people among the Scotch
> Irish. The people who settled the early NI plantations were probably not
> masterless. But the later people who moved to Ireland to escape English
> persecution, religious or otherwise, were masterless. I suspect the latter
> group makes up the largest
> number of American SI immigrants. But there are probably many of the former
> here too.

Yes, this is a point I should have made clearer -- there were both kinds
came in North American and both kinds in Ulster. And, as Hill points on
a lot,
there is a world of difference between a Puritan or a Presbyterian (whom
from the point of view of the Anglican establishment are "masterless
who reject the authority of both church and state) and the "mob" of
London and the unenclosed wilds. The first formed functional societies
strong values and had a lot of self control and the latter did not.

The other thing I seem to be picking up from Hill and that Edward has
alluded to is that back then your English Presbyterian was a wee bit
more extreme than your Scots PResyb of today. Not the same animal at

The book also made me understand why the English cut the forests down in
Ireland. There are some really sad songs about that. I was so glad when
I was there to find that reforestation is underway. I could understand
the forests were threatening. They harbored those brave reparees are the
Irish equivalent of Robin Hood in folk lore.

All the best,

Linda Merle

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