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Why So Many Scots Came to America
or
What Am I Doing Here?
Copyright 1999-2002. All rights reserved.

While many Scots emigrated for reasons known only to them, the majority of Scots arrived in Colonial America against their will. The first group of Covenanters banished from Great Britain arrived in America in the late seventeenth century. Beginning in 1716, Jacobite Highlanders were banished to the Americas. Continuing persecution encouraged other Scots to emigrate well into the nineteenth century.

All that stuff you learned in grammer school about European people coming to America to for religious freedom is true...to an extent. There's a lot more to the story than that. It also includes the effects of political manipulations, big business, greed, and outside influences on government.

To make a 500 year story short, the Scots had their own monarchy and the English had theirs. The king of Scotland was elected from among the royal family by the Scotish parliament. The king of England was determined pretty much by inheritance, with certain stipulations set down by the English parliament.

After fighting a few wars for various reasons, marriage between members of royal families united the two countries under one monarchy.

Monarchs come and go. Some were of one religion, some of another, but generally they tried to impose their religious and political opinions on their subjects, sometimes by harsh methods. Generally, the kings wanted to make everyone in Scotland follow the Episcopal church, while many Scots were faithful to the Catholic or Presbyterian church.

Presbyterians in Scotland signed a covenant with God to oppose all other religions. They were called Covenanters. (They're still waiting for God to sign the agreement, however.)

Some subjects believed that being a king of Scotland was a divine right given only to the descendents of King James. They were called Jacobites (Jacob is Latin for James).

The Scots lived under the clan system, in which everyone had an interest in the community (sort of a commune) and banded together when necessary to battle other clans. It was primarily an agricultural society. As the clan chiefs became wealthier and more powerful, they grew more distant from the clan members who farmed the land and fought the battles.

The clan chiefs discovered Cheviot and Blackface sheep and realized that they could make more money raising sheep than they could from the farmers. Since there was more law and government then, they no longer needed to maintain large clans for their own protection. They could use only two or three peasants to care for the sheep and be rid of the headaches caused by being responsible for the safety and welfare of the hundreds who had lived on the lands for years. They called it "agricultural improvement" and began to drive the clan members from their land by charging very high rent or by forceably evicting them. The farmers went to the cities of Scotland, Ireland, or England to get jobs but since the labor market was flooded, most were unsuccessful. Some went to the coast to become fishermen, but again, they found little work. They emigrated simply to support themselves and even some of them had to come as indentured servants in order to pay their fares.

Eventually, people under the King's rule had to swear alliegence to him and his authority. Jacobites and Covenanters, of course, wouldn't do it on political and religious grounds, so they were transported to the New World (Colonial America, Canada, Jamaica, Antigua, etc.) Since the ports of the American east coast received so many immigrant ships, the Scots settled in the East, but primarily in the South. Like later immigrants, they tended to settle where others of their culture had established colonies, so relatively large numbers of Scots stayed in the agrarian South and established new lives here.

All of this is very similar to the New World Order that big business, entrenched politicians, the Christian Coalition, and the federal government is establishing with NAFTA, GATT, and other trade agreements that combine our government with others for the economic benefit of a few.


January 16, 1999


"The Original Scots Colonists of Early America"
1612 - 1783

Introduction


"The Scottish participation in the settlement of America dates from the early seventeenth century, and from that time until the American Revolution probably around 150,000 Scots emigrated to the New World. During the seventeenth century many Scots settled within the English, Dutch and French colonies, while others attempted to establish independent Scots colonies in Nova Scotia, New Jersey, South Carolina and at Darien (Note: Darien is the Scots' name for Panama.--GB). After the political union of Scotland and England in 1707 the Scots had unrestricted access to the English plantations in America. Emigration expanded slowly but steadily until 1763 when a combination of factors in Scotland and America stimulated emigration, especially from the Highlands. Although Scots could be found throughout the American colonies from Barbados to Rupert's Land, areas such as Georgia, the Carolinas, upper New York, Nova Scotia and Jamaica had the greatest concentration of Scottish immigrants. This then was the general pattern of Scottish immigration and settlement in colonial America."

"The Original Scots Colonists of Early America" 1612 - 1783, David Dobson, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, Copyright 1989


See the Links page for sources of information on Scottish history.


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