THE SCOTCH-IRISH IN OHIO
By Hon. James E. Campbell, Governor of Ohio.
Taken from "The Scotch-Irish in America: Proceedings and Addresses of the Second Congress at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, May 29 to June 1, 1890."
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Scotch-Irish pertinacity descends to the remotest generation, and clings to the blood, however much diluted by admixture with other races. The Scotch-Irishman loves to recount the deeds of his ancestors, and listens with delight to their laudation. Those traits are exemplified in the unflagging attendance upon these prolonged ceremonies; and justify the belief that you will listen with patience to the modestly written record of Scotch-Irish influence, and achievement, in the Commonwealth of Ohio. To him who, at Columbia last year, sat spellbound under the burning words of Knott, McIntosh, Hall, Henry, Kelley, McClure, and the other eloquent men who poured out their stores of wit and learning day after day; or who has reveled here for three days in the scholarly masterpieces of Perry, White, Robinson, Dalzell, Beyson and their compeers—the story of the Scotch-Irish in Ohio will sound like a "twice told tale."
The history of the race in one state is the history of all. The biography of one Scotch-Irishman is that of his fellow. Wherever the blood is, whether isolated in a single family, or congregated in an entire community, there will be found the dauntless courage, the lofty aspirations, the mental and physical superiority which marked it in the Old World, and have not deserted it in the New. As it is every-where else, so is it in Ohio. She has four millions of people. There are no better, richer, happier on earth. In every hamlet between the lake and the river the Scotch-Irishman has left the impress of his integrity, his energy, and his intrepidity. His blood has furnished the masterful strain which makes the "Buckeye" the most cosmopolitan of all the assimilated races of the land, and a fitting link between his "Keystone" brother on the East and his "Hoosier" comrade on the West.
The printed annals of Ohio tell comparatively little that has been done in any single locality by the Scotch-Irish as a distinctive race of early immigrants. We have preserved in enduring form the history of the Yankee, and his Marietta purchase under the auspices of the goodly "Ohio Company of Associates." Two years ago a volume was published to celebrate the centennial of his arrival on the soil of the state. We read much of John Cleves Symmes and his fellow Jerseymen who cleared the incomparable valley of the Great Miami. The thrift of the Connecticut settlers in the Western Reserve, and the industry of the Teutonic races who dwell on the sluggish Maumee are duly chronicled; hut the Scotch-Irish are widely scattered over the entire state, and have no similar tale of large and solid settlements. From this, however, it must not be assumed that our race has but a small footing in Ohio; or that it has not done its full share in founding, fostering, and upbuilding the state.
The early history of Ohio, like much other American history, was written by the New Englander, or his descendant. This fact has been noted by others who have addressed you. As one who is half Puritan himself it is not for your present speaker to complain, nor animadvert upon his brethren; yet, while yielding to the English Yankee his full meed of praise, it is only fair to say that were it not for the Scotch-Irish there would be a much less glorious history to write. Many of the strong men who settled in Ohio, after the Revolutionary war were of ancestry which came from Ireland and Scotland by way of New England. Some indeed claimed to have been descendants of the Mayflower party, when, in reality, they were the off-spring of those same Presbyterians once railed against by the Cromwellian Puritans.
The history of Scotch-Irish influence in shaping the destiny of Ohio goes back farther than is at first apparent. During the Revolutionary war, while Washington and his galaxy of Scotch-Irish generals were debating the propriety of founding a new empire west of the mountains, should disaster overtake the patriot cause, the territory they talked of was being redeemed from British rule by a valiant young Scotch-Irishman, born near Monticollo, Virginia, who, at twenty-six years of age, had achieved such fame that John Randolph eulogized him as the "Hannibal of the West." George Rogers Clarke was his name, and the North-west Territory, with its five States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, and its fifteen millions of people, is his monument. The first exploration of this territory had been made by La Salle as early as 1680, but the trading posts established by the French as a result of that expedition had a precarious existence. France, becoming involved in war with England, finally relinquished her hold on this garden spot of the earth. By the treaty of Paris the western boundary of the English colonies was fixed at the Mississippi river; and the territory north-west of the Ohio was ceded by the British Government to the Colony of Virginia under the charter of James I—a prince whose perfidy assisted largely in making Scotch-Irish history in America. When Virginia assumed the dignity of statehood, the North-west Territory was held by British troops stoutly entrenched behind strong forts.
The sparse settlements were constantly menaced by red savages incited by England to make murderous incursions into Virginia and Kentucky.
In 1778 Clarke was commissoned by the Scotch-Irish Governor of Virginia, Patrick Henry, to make a secret expedition into the Ohio country for the purpose of restoring to Virginia the territory that had been ceded to the colony after the treaty of Paris. The soldiers selected to accompany him on this perilous expedition, so fraught with the destiny of the colonies, were picked men; the whole two hundred known for their skill as Indian fighters—men of stubborn endurance, resolute fortitude and persistent valor. Need it be said that Clarke found them among the Scotch-Irish in the valley of Virginia?
This expedition by Colonel Clarke was one of the most successful ever made. Governor Hamilton was taken, the forts captured and the North-west territory restored to Virginia.
In 1780 she ceded it to the United States—Thomas Jefferson, the greatest Scotch-Irishman of America, being the author not only of the ordinance of cession, but also of the plan of government for the territory. It was provided by him that after the year 1800 there should be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the five great states carved out of the territory; and thus began Scotch-Irish influence upon the material and spiritual development of our state, giving us a force in the maintenance of civilization that will abide so long as the spirits of Knox and Melville are an inspiration.
Let it be here recorded that had it not been for the daring courage of Colonel Clarke, it is possible the Ohio river would now be the southern boundary of Canada. Thus, as we are indebted to Jefferson for the Louisiana purchase which gave our country the boundless West; to Polk, another Scotch-Irishman, for the golden slope of the Pacific; and to big-hearted, Scotch-Irish Sam Houston for Texas; so are we indebted to George Rogers Clarke for the possession of the North-west territory, and to Thomas Jefferson for its permanent peace and prosperity. In this connection listen to the following tribute paid their memory by the eloquent Virginian, John Randolph Tucker, at the Marietta Centennial in 1888. He said, "and so, from the day that the mountain heights of Monticello stood as sentinel guards over the cradled infancy of George Rogers Clarke and Thomas Jefferson, Providence had decreed that the one should conquer by prowess of arms, and the other by a wise diplomacy, the open water-way for the products of the West to the markets of the world."
At the opening of this century the country west of the mountains, the Ohio of to-day, was a wilderness that required strong arms, resolute wills, and a fixed purpose to subdue. The advance guard came to the mouth of the Muskingum in the spring of 1788, to be followed in December by a settlement "opposite the mouth of Licking Creek," where the "Queen City" now stands. When the year 1800 came, there were settlements not only thickly scattered along the Ohio river, notably at Steubenville, but in the interior where now stand the prosperous cities of Dayton, Chillicothe, Zanesville, Xenia and others south of the Indian Treaty established by Wayne.
In this influx of immigration no race stands more prominent than the Scotch-Irish. It was aggressive, bold, and sure of action; and in reclaiming the wilderness, building the home, the village, the church, and the school, none took a stand more advanced. Locally speaking, the trend of Scotch-Irish immigration to Ohio was in two main lines; one over the mountains through New York and Pennsylvania. These settled chiefly in the eastern and central parts, forming communities usually Presbyterian in religion. The other came from the Carolinas, and the Huguenot settlements in the South, that they might be freed from the baleful effects of slavery. These located in the southern portion of the state, principally between the Muskingum and the two Miamis. The early settlers were Revolutionary soldiers seeking the victories of peace. They were, for the most part, stalwart, God-fearing men, who looked to mental and spiritual as well as natural development; and they laid broad and deep the foundations of a moral and intellectual state. They were so constantly harassed by the Indians that life was one long battle, until General Anthony Wayne appeared. His undaunted bravery soon gave the patriot pioneers immunity from savage depredations. Peace was not their boon, however, until after Wayne's signal victory over the Miamis in 1794. General Wayne was born in Pennsylvania, but his father was a native of Ulster, and his grandfather followed the standard of Orange at Boyne Water.
To such noble types of our race were the intrepid pioneers indebted for deeds that made Ohio a home of safety. In connection with Wayne should be mentioned that thorough-bred Scotch-Irishman, Simon Ken-ton, whose exploits and escapes are familiar to the readers of pioneer history. Kenton was with Wayne in the Indian wars, and was also a companion of Daniel Boone and General James Loudon, both of whom sprung from the race which has so largely shaped the destiny of the republic. He was with Clarke in his expedition against the British; and at the call of Governor Shelby, of Kentucky, for troops to fight the second war of independence, responded with the zeal of a true Scotch-Irishman. When Ohio was created a territory, who should better become its first Governor than he who was selected—the native Scotchman, Arthur St. Clair? He earned his military fame at the Heights of Abraham, in the Indian wars, and through the long years of the Revolution. In Ohio he found an ample field for a statesmanship which had been schooled in the Continental Congress. His classical learning left its impress on the intellectuality of the state; and his inflexibility of purpose—the birth-right of the obdurate Scot—mellowed by the suavity of his manner. To his early guidance the people of Ohio are gratefully indebted. Many of his ablest successors in the gubernatorial chair were of the race whose deeds we celebrate to-day. One of the earliest and most noted was Jeremiah Morrow, whose ancestors figured at the seige of Londonderry. He was the first, and for ten years, the sole representative in the Federal Congress from the newly admitted State of Ohio. While serving there he originated the idea of the Cumberland road, whose benefits to the traffic of that early day can not be measured, and was active in all internal improvements. Subsequently he became United States senator, and governor, and lived to the age of eighty-one, venerated and loved by the entire people of the state. Henry Clay said: "No man in the sphere within which he acted ever commanded, or deserved, the implicit confidence of Congress more than Jeremiah Morrow. A few artless, but sensible words, pronounced in his plain Scotch-Irish dialect, were always sufficient to secure the passage of any bill or resolution which he reported."
Of the distinguished governors of Ohio none stand out in bolder relief than Allen Trimble, whose ancestors, paternal and maternal, were of the courageous Scotch-Irish stock that gave to the valley of Virginia those valiant soldiers who justified Washington's boast that with an army of them he could defy the world. In the year 1784, Governor Trimble's father, a Revolutionary soldier, came West with an expedition of five hundred Scotch-Irish from the valley. Allen, then but eight mouths old, was carried on horseback in his mother's arms. The party was accompanied by General Henry Knox, Washington's Secretary of War. Need we say that he, too, was a Scotch-Irishman? Young Trimble afterward settled in Ohio, and was elected governor in 1826. He was a man of liberal and enlightened views, a statesman of perception and perseverance; and he stamped upon the state the strong traits of his character. To him are we indebted for the public school system which has been so powerful a factor in our progress. As acting governor, in 1821, he appointed a committee which formulated the plan upon which the free schools were founded, and to him this committee was much indebted for intelligent aid in its task. He also inspired our canal system, which at one time was a great artery pulsating with the country's commerce.
Duncan McArthur, another Scotchman, was elected Governor in 1830, his administration being in keeping with his high character. A soldier of the war of 1812, his daring won promotion with rapidity. He was of iron will, pushing and energetic; and, being the son of poor parents, had a hard struggle for his education, but acquired fame in every station, whether as soldier, lawyer, surveyor, or statesman; and is honored yet as one of Ohio's greatest governors. He was a member of the constitutional convention, and twice elected to Congress.
General Joseph Vance was a Washington county Scotch-Irishman. These Washington county Scotch-Irish are to-day filling most of the pulpits and many of the offices in Ohio. With penetration to discern and energy to perform, Vance early made his influence felt in the affairs of state. In him the distinctive Scotch-Irish traits, mental and facial, were indelibly marked. He was in the war of 1812, member of Congress for eight years, member of the constitutional convention, and twice elected governor.
Our race gave Ohio her first native-born governor in the person of William Shannon, a noble type of manhood, a credit to his ancestry and an honor to the commonwealth which he served long and faithfully. He was a sedulous student under the tutelage of such eminent teachers of the blood as Charles Hammond and Dr. David Jennings; and was no less noted for profound attainments, than for the boldness and diligence which characterized him as a lawyer. His influence was national in extent, and wholesome in its direction. He was an active member of Congress, minister to Mexico, and territoral governor of Kansas.
Has any governor of Ohio left a more delightful memory, or was one personally more popular, than Thomas Corwin, who was also of Scotch-Irish extraction? The eloquence of his tongue has never been equalled by any son of Ohio; nor do his shining witticisms grow stale with repetition. As congressman, senator, foreign minister, and governor, his name is held in fondest esteem by the people of his state. Another distinguished scion of Scotch-Irish stock, who occupied the gubernatorial chair, and upon whom yet greater honors were thrust, is Rutherford B. Hayes—a brave general in war, a faithful representative in Congress, and an efficient participant now in all the charitable and benevolent movements of the state.
Others governors who have shed honor on the Scotch-Irish name might also be mentioned. In the older days there were Robert Lucas and Seabury Ford; in the latter day, Reuben Wood, William Medill, whose legal acumen is impressed on the fundamental law, and the gallant soldier, Thomas L. Young.
There is yet another Governor of Ohio, the immortal William Allen, whose Scotch-Irish ancestry is disputed; but who had in a marked degree the essentially distinctive traits of that race. But if he were not Scotch-Irish himself, he married the daughter of Governor McArthur, and thereby insured undoubted purity of blood to his progeny.
This is in accordance with the eternal fitness of things. If a man has the misfortune not to be born in Ohio, he should marry an Ohio woman upon the first suitable, and lawful, occasion; and, if he be not of Scotch-Irish descent, he should imitate William Allen's example and marry a Scotch-Irish girl. This was done by the illustrious Allen G. Thurman, a nephew of William Allen, who was careful to marry a noble woman of good Ohio Scotch-Irish stock. William Allen's statue stands in the capitol at Washington—one of the two chosen to be placed there by the people of Ohio. Allen G. Thurman's statue, we trust, may not be called for these many years. "May he live long and prosper."
Scotch-Irish of Tennessee
Scotch-Irish in New England
Scotch-Irish in Western Pennsylvania
Scotch-Irish in Virginia
Scotch-Irish Settlers in South Carolina
The Scot in America and the Ulster Scot
God's Frontiersmen: The Scots-Irish Epic
Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish shaped America
The Scots-Irish in the Shenandoah Valley
The Scots-Irish in the Carolinas
The Scots-Irish in the Hills of Tennessee
The Scots-Irish in Pennsylvania and Kentucky