THE SCOTCH-IRISH OF THE SOUTH

BY HON. WM. WIRT HENRY, LL.D., OF VIRGINIA

From the Proceedings of the Scotch-Irish Congress at Columbia, Tennessee, May 8-11, 1889

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Mr. President, Members of the Congress, Ladies and Gentlemen:--In obeying the call to take part in this celebration, I recognize the compliment paid the state from which I come, a state so rich in historic memories, and whose history has been so interwoven with that of the people in whose honor we have met, that her greatness may be said to have been the outgrowth of their sterling qualities, rather than of any other portion of her population.

In the name of Virginia, the mother of states and of statesmen, I salute you, and bid you God-speed in gathering up and preserving the records and traditions of the noble race which has ever been foremost in the march of Christian civilization.

The history of the human race in its progress along the path of civilization is filled with the migrations of the more vigorous races or nations, who have left their native lands to seize and occupy the countries possessed by inferior or degenerate populations. Sometimes, these migrations have been of nations, as was that of the Israelites, but generally they have been simply colonies, which have preserved for a longer or shorter time their connection with or dependence upon the mother countries. Among the nations of antiquity, the Greeks and Romans were most distinguished for their spirit of colonization, and to this was due, in great measure, the wonderful influence they severally exerted. But of all the race movements, that which has most affected the history of the world has been the colonization and subsequent occupation of North America by the English-speaking people, and, among these, none can claim just precedence over the Scotch-Irish, whom we are met this day to honor.

The vain efforts of the civil power to exterminate early Christianity by fire and sword were followed by its embrace, under the Emperor Constantine, in the fourth century. The adulterous union which ensued was more disastrous to the pure religion of Christ than persecution. The one purified, but the other corrupted it. From it followed a debasement of both church and state, and a long reign of' civil and religious tyranny. The face of the divine author of civil and religious liberty seemed veiled, and the dark ages of the world followed, in which human rights seemed hopelessly enchained by priest and king. But liberty, like truth--

"Though crushed to earth, will rise again,
The eternal years of God are hers."

Finally, after a thousand years of darkness, the light of the approaching day began to empurple the horizon. The fifteenth century witnessed the preparation for the coming reformation in the invention of movable type, the revival of letters, and the discovery of America, destined to be the great field for the development of civil and religions liberty, and the asylum of the oppressed.

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