“Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, that cannot save.” Psalm 146: 3
For many, liberty was more than financial and political freedom. Many were fighting for continued religious freedom as well. While we learned as history students about the Puritans and Quakers quest for religious freedom in coming to the shores of America, the plight of the Presbyterians from Northern Ireland and Scotland was not so familiar to me.
The Scots-Irish were Scottish Presbyterians that were forced to leave their homeland in the 17th & 18th centuries because they refused to agree that the King was the head of the church and didn’t accept his interference in their religious practices. They felt strongly that only Christ could be the spiritual head of the church and their true King.
Known as “Covenanters”, they immigrated, some forcibly, to Northern Ireland. Generations later, they moved on to America to escape war and expensive leases on land. You can find out more the Scots-Irish story at http://www.ulsterancestry.com/ulster-scots.html and at http://www.covenanter.org.uk/ from the Scottish Covenanter Memorial Association.
Many of these Scots-Irish ended up in Appalachia and are our ancestors. In fact, Billy Kennedy in Scots-Irish in the Hills of Tennessee states 1 in 5 Southerners have Scots-Irish ancestry.
The Scots-Irish were eager to escape the tyranny of the Crown in the New World that stifled their personal and spiritual pursuits. They rejected any thought that the British might follow them into their new lives in America. Many Presbyterian preachers also encouraged their congregants from the pulpit to support the cause for freedom on religious grounds.
The Scots-Irish whole-heartedly joined the fight as militiamen and were known for their toughness and fearsome fighting. According to Ulster Ancestry.com ’ Serving in the British Army, Captain Johann Henricks, one of the much despised ‘Hessians’, wrote in frustration ‘Call it not an American rebellion, it is nothing more than an Irish-Scotch Presbyterian Rebellion.’
For many of them, the freedom to live and worship as they wanted was worth the fight. May we be willing to preserve that right for future generations.
Happy Independence Day!