THE SCOTCH-IRISH IN TENNESSEE

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PRESBYTERIANS

We turn from the secular to the religious, and in as compact manner as possible give the place of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in Tennessee; as the family is largely represented in Tennessee, I begin with Dr. Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.[7]

Dr. Caldwell, of North Carolina, first president of the State University, has worthy descendants in Tennessee. The family honor has been maintained in the worthy representative in Congress from the Hermitage district, the Hon. Andrew Caldwell, Caruthers, of North Carolina, has a large progeny in Tennessee. One was Judge A. Caruthers, founder of the celebrated law school of Cumberland University, whose influence as lawyer and Christian has gone far toward peopling the south-west with Christian lawyers. His brother, Judge Robert L. Caruthers, of the Supreme Court, the most powerful force in giving success to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. E. B. Currie, of North Carolina, whose descendants have held distinguished places in Tennessee history, especially in the postal service. Rev. Gideon Blackburn was a right arm of power to General Jackson through all the struggles of the early settlement of Tennessee. "It is worthy of remark that the first four prominent educators of Tennessee, Doak, Craighead, Carrick, and Balch, were all of Scotch-Irish descent, and members of the same Presbytery. The Bible and the school-book were borne together across the Alleghanies by men in whose veins flowed the blood which had withstood the oppression of three centuries."

That America should have owed its independence at the era when it occurred, to the Scotch-Irish settlers, and foremost among them to

THE PRESBYTERIAN PREACHERS,

that at the close of the revolutionary struggle, with the popularity and decided prestige which belonged to that ministry, with the education and purity of life which was theirs in so eminent a degree, with the priority of occupancy, that they should have been so quickly distanced in the struggle for the rescue from sin and vice of the hardy settlers and their children by the Methodist preachers, is a matter for profound study. The Presbyterians held, as pioneers of liberty, the foremost place in the popular mind and heart, and deserved the place they held. The Methodist preachers came out of the struggle almost without a single laurel of freedom on their brows, as preachers; as men, many of them were soldiers before they became preachers. The government of America had been fashioned in its fundamental principles after the pattern set them by the Presbyterian Church.

Before my recent studies, I had given to Thomas Jefferson and French political theories credit for a much larger share in our governmental principles and forms than I can ever do again. The great principle of no taxation without representation, we owe to the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. For the insertion of the constitutional provision against the union of church and state, we are alike indebted to them. With all this debt of gratitude, we do well to ask why has a church whose government for nearly a hundred years gave no voice to the people on questions of taxation, and allowed little more individual freedom than Jesuitism itself, so surpassed in its growth the church of our fathers? Results so stupendous as these are not matters of chance. This is neither the time nor place to discuss the problem. I present it because it is incumbent on some future philosophic Christian historian of the race to solve it for the world's good.

Do we find a part of the solution the following?

Dr. McDonald, in his history of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, just from the press, says:

"The Southern Presbyterian Church, which has been so wonderfully conservative, is seriously considering the propriety of changing its standard on this subject. A standing committee has been appointed to investigate the question. A long circular has been sent out by one of that committee, ably advocating the change. This circular shows that the ratio of increase in a hundred years between the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches is as 47 to 1051. It shows that 'aptness to teach,' which is a Bible qualification, is not proved by the possession of a college diploma, which is not. Indeed, there is no essential connection between the two."

SCOTCH-IRISH THREAD IN METHODISM

We find the Scotch-Irish represented among the early Methodist preachers of Tennessee, by Thomas Logan Douglass, Hubbard Saunders, who married a daughter of General Russell, of revolutionary fame, whose wife, Madam Russell, was a sister of Patrick Henry, James Gwin, chaplain, adviser, and trusted friend of General Jackson, at some of the most critical periods in his stormy career, John McGhee, who, with his brother, a Presbyterian preacher, had a large part in the revival out of which sprung the Cumberland Presbyterian church. Among the early laymen we find as members of the first society organized at Nashville, General James Robertson and wife; a little later, Colonel Robert Weakley. Among the earliest converts in Sumner county, Lindsay, McNelly, Crane, the Carrs, Cages, and Douglass family. But a little later, Mrs. Bowen, who was another daughter of General Russell, and pronounced by general Jackson the most remarkable woman he ever knew—her place of prayer and devotional reading, the hollow of a sycamore tree, I have seen, the interior of which she had lined with devotional clippings, prose and poetry.

The bishop, who had most to do in planting Methodism in Tennessee, Bishop William McKendree, and the bishop who last died in the state, Bishop McTyeire, were, as I take it, both Scotch-Irish. Their names and places of birth indicate the fact, while their mental characteristics are markedly of the racial type. Both of them bold and urgent for the enfranchisement of the rank and file of the church

before they were separated from the mass by their elevation to the episcopacy. Bishop McKendree, before he came under the personal influence of Asbury, sympathized greatly with O'Kelly in his cry for freedom of government, a cry which gave birth to Protestant Methodism.

H. N. M'TYEIRE,

Before his elevation, was the resolute, adroit, persistent, and finally victorious advocate for lay representation in the councils of the church. Yet when clothed with the episcopal office, they were both as prominent for their high exercise of episcopal prerogative as was Jackson himself in the presidential chair, or in the roll of military chieftain. Strenuous for liberty when under authority, stalwart for prerogative when gifted with authority. Of the men most marked in the history ot Tennessee, as exerting the most influential and long-continued influence over the destinies of Methodism, we have John B. McFerrin and David R. McAnally. Dr. McFerrin, in his History of Methodism in Tennessee, speaking of Mr. Craighead, the earliest Presbyterian preacher, says, "Mr. Craighead was a man of learning, and long lived at his first residence in the state, and devoted most of his time to the education of the youth of the country. In this field he was very useful, and, as an educator, left a noble reputation. As a preacher he was formal, and somewhat eccentric, but he has left behind him the savor of a good name."

It can be little doubted that had Craighead been writing of McFerrin, he would have written "A strong man, gifted with power to sway the masses, but as a preacher, of marked eccentricity." Most of men who make the age feel them, and who leave behind them a distinct impress, are written down by the many as eccentric.

JOHN NEWLAND MAFFET,

From the North of Ireland, the wonderful orator who swept like a comet over the Union, followed by vast crowds, was for a time a resident of Nashville, and pastor of the leading Methodist church. Philip Neely, perhaps the most eloquent of Tennessee's many eloquent men, was Scotch-Irish. F. E. Pitts, who rivaled Whitfield in his power to move masses, was of Scotch-Irish blood. Jesse Cunningham, a preacher of East Tennessee, whose son, Rev. W. G. E. Cunningham, has won high position in Methodism, claims our notice, as well as Peter Cartwright and James Axley. Dr. McFerrin, in his Methodism in Tennessee, thus characterizes a band of Scotch-Irish preachers. "The pathos of Massie and Lee, the logic of McHenry and Burke, the polemical power of Page and Garrett, the zeal and piety of Walker and Lakin, the unction and poetry of Wilkerson and Gwin, the thundering and lightning of McGee and Granade, and the fine talents and noble bearing of McKendree and Blackman, drew the multitudes to Methodist meetings, and brought thousands of the best people of the land into the church. And these men of God went into the hovels of the poor and sought the halt and blind, the maimed and the distressed, preached to them Jesus and the resurrection, and won multitudes to the cross of Christ."

CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, OR THE IRISH-SCOTCH CHURCH

This church is the child of the Irish-Scotch of Kentucky and Tennessee. As the race itself is the synthesis of two races, the birth of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church is the analysis of the two races which reappear, the Scotch blood as Presbyterian, the Irish as Cumberland. The one true to its logic, the other striding along across all logical paths as enthusiasm may lead. Each is a source of honor to the other, and a second synthesis would be a blessing to our land, the chief religious curse of which is the multiplication of sects. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church has abounded in energy, which has produced large results.

A very characteristic statement of the standpoint of its origin is given in "McDonald's History," page 100.

"We have far more confidence in a system of theology growing out of a revival than in a system made by scholastics writing in the midst of their books and aiming at logical consistency."

Let us see the revival as it appears in history.[8]

The re-awaking Christian energy which ushered in the nineteenth century, and which introduced a new method of spiritual propagandism and enlightenment into American Christianity, was due to a man whose name has almost been forgotten by the great body of the people. This was James M'Gready, who was born in Pennsylvania, of Scotch-Irish parents. When young, he was removed to North Carolina, and was under the pastorate of John Caldwell. He was, as a boy, of a naturally grave and serious disposition, and was early destined for the ministry. He thought himself devout and a true Christian. But he accidentally overheard a remark made by one whom he respected, that he had not a spark of religion in his heart. He was aggrieved and surprised. He thought over what he had heard. Light began to dawn upon him. Returning to North Carolina, he commenced preaching in earnest. In 1790, he married, and took charge of a church in Orange county. He was accused of "running people distracted, diverting their attention from the necessary avocations of life, and creating unnecessary alarm in the minds of those who were decent and orderly in their lives." A letter written in blood ordered him to leave the country. His church was attacked. His pulpit was set on fire. In 1796, he removed to Kentucky. Here he took charge of three congregations in Logan county—Gasper river, Red river, and Muddy river. He infused new life into them. The people were aroused. His reputation spread. His influence grew. People came miles and miles to hear him. The walls of sectarianism were thrown down. He joined with Methodists in the work of reviving the love of Christ. William M'Gee, a Presbyterian, was located first at Shiloh, near Gallatin, Tennessee, then on Drake's creek, in Sumner county. His brother, John M'Gee, was a Methodist. In June, 1800, the two brothers assisted M'Gready at the Red river meeting-house, where the great revival fully developed itself. The crowd was enormous, and many were compelled to sleep in the open air under the trees. It was noticed that some had brought tents and food. This suggested the idea of a camp-meeting. The next month,

THE FIRST CAMP-MEETING

the world had ever seen was held at Gasper river church, in Logan county, Kentucky. The spirit spread wider and wider, farther and farther. A peculiar physical manifestation accompanied these revivals, popularly known as the ''jerks." They were involuntary and irresistible. When under their influence, the sufferers would dance, or sing, or shout. Sometimes they would sway from side to side, or throw the head backward and forward, or leap, or spring. Generally, those under the influence would, at the end, fall upon the ground and remain rigid for hours, and sometimes whole multitudes would become dumb and fall prostrate. As the swoon passed away, the sufferer would weep piteously, moan, and sob. After a while, the gloom would lift, a smile of heavenly peace would radiate the countenance, and words of joy and rapture would break forth, and conversion always followed. Even the most skeptical, even the scoffers who visited these meetings for the purpose of showing their hardihood, would be taken in this way. As the inspiration spread, the

DEMAND FOR NEW PREACHERS

was greater than the church could supply. In this demand the Cumberland Church had its origin. David Rice, the leading member of the Transylvania Presbytery, visited the Cumberland country. Convinced that the revivals were doing great good, and appreciating the lack of preachers, he suggested that laymen possessing the proper qualifications for carrying on the work should be selected to apply for membership in the Presbytery. Alexander Anderson, Finis Ewing, and Samuel King applied, and were licensed to exhort.

Of Scotch-Irish we have marked these as prominent in the early days of this church: Robert Donnel, Thos. Calhoun, T. C. Anderson, J. M. McMurray. This church has come to number 150,000.

ALEXANDER CAMPBELL—THE SCOTCH-IRISH CHURCH

So large a place has been gained by the followers of the Scotch-Irish Alexander Campbell in Tennessee, and he was himself so often here, that no sketch of the religions of the race would be complete without reference to him. A man who was bold enough to attempt to reform, and in most of what he taught reverse the theology of the ages, who fought his way single-handed and alone, who resorted to no appeals to the passions, who was the death of enthusiasm, and sought his conquests alone by the force of logic, arrests the pen of history while he claims rightful place. He stands uniquely apart from the religious reformers of the world as history has given them to us. His success, which has been as marked as his courage was dauntless, demands for him a foremost place among the celebrated men of the race. John C. Calhoun, perhaps, of all the race, is his peer in analytical powers, in persistence in unfaltering adherence to the results of logic without giving place to either passion or expediency. He belongs to the same Scotch-Irish family before referred to, was brought up in the Presbyterian Church, trained in the theology of the schools. He came on the scene of action just as the reverse tide began to set in after the great excitement and religious furor of the early part of this century. His movement has been improperly called a reformation; it was, in doctrine, methods, and purposes, a rebellion.

The creeds of Presbyterianism, the revivals of Methodists, Baptists, and Cumberland Presbyterians, were attacked with a persistency that knew no abatement. He had some grounds for his points of attack. Protestantism had gone much too far along the line of credal infallibility, while many of the churches of Kentucky and Tennessee had narrowed down evangelical methods to one, "the mourners' bench or anxious seat," the evidences of conversion had practically become the measure of the emotions. It has taken Alexander Campbell and his followers a half century to draw the old churches out of the pent-up Utica, into which reverence for misplaced creeds on the one hand, and exaggeration of emotion on the other, had drifted them. The evidences of the good accomplished by him along these lines in the life and action of the churches is becoming every day more apparent. When Christendom comes to

VALUE CREEDS AS MILE-STONES

to mark progress, instead of anchors to forbid further movement, the followers of Alexander Campbell may be able to meet us half way, and allow that creeds have a rightful place. Whether they do or not, the age owes to Alexander Campbell a debt larger, perhaps, than to any other one man of the pulpit of the century, Henry Ward Beecher excepted.

Beecher denounced the binding nature of creeds as fearlessly as did Alexander Campbell, but never was narrow enough in his intensity to be blinded to the fact that it was the abuse, not the use of creeds that had so damned up Christian growth.

The Scotch-Irish stick-to-right exaltation of minor points into fundamental principles, the contentious character of the race, has no better example than in Alexander Campbell and his followers. His refusal of all creeds, his abandonment of all established forms of government, was carrying to its extreme logical results the central principles of Scotch-Irish Presbyterianism. Taking the Bible as interpreted by every individual as the only source of right belief and action, his Scotch-Irish blood at once goes forward along its hereditary tendencies to construe a book full of tropes, figures, and parables redolent of lofty imagery, by the literalism of the unimaginative Scotch metaphysics, resulting in the narrowest of possible structures on the broadest of foundations. Yet so just were many of his criticisms on the credal and emotional religions of his day, so welcome was his doctrine of equal rights in the kingdom of Christ to all members, so attractive has been the field for activity presented to laymen, that, measured by the number of his followers, he stands unrivaled in the history of the religious movements of the world.

A prophecy is on my lips, but I repress it. A single suggestion I make. Had it not been for the exaltation of a symbol into the place of a vital power by a faulty literalism, had it not been for the narrow refusal to utilize such helps of government as Christian enlightenment has approved, not as essentials, but as convenient scaffolding, their success would have been as the torrent compared with the wave-like growth of their history.

The following from Mr. Campbell shows his standpoint in contrast to that given by McDonald as characteristic of Cumberland Presbyterian church:

"What I am in religion, I am from examination, reflection, conviction, not from ipse dixit, tradition, or human authority; and, having halted and faltered and stumbled, I have explored every inch of the way hitherto. Though my father and I accord in sentiment, neither of us are dictators or imatators. Neither of us lead; neither of us follow." [9]

This, with the whole history of this church, so vividly recalls Parton's picture of Scotch-Irish character in his life of Jackson, that we call attention to it in closing.

"One trait in the character of these people demands the particular attention of the reader. It is their nature to contend for what they think is right with peculiar earnestness. Some of them, too, have a knack of extracting from every affair in which they may engage, and from every relation in life which they form, the very largest amount of contention which it can be made to yield. Hot water would seem to be the natural element of some of them, for they are always in it. It appears to be more difficult for a North of Irelander than for other men to allow an honest difference of opinion in an opponent; so that he is apt to regard the terms

OPPONENT AND ENEMY

as synonymous. Hence, in the political and sectarian contests of the present day, he occasionally exhibits a narrowness, if not ferocity of spirit, such as his forefathers manifested in the old wars of the clans and the borders, or in the later strifes between Catholic and Protestant." It is strange that so kind and generous a people should be so fierce in contention. "Their factions," says Sir Walter Scott, speaking of the Irish generally, "have been so long envenomed, and they have such a narrow ground to do their battle in, that they are like people fighting with daggers in a hogshead." And these very people, apart from their strifes, are singularly tender in their feelings, liberal in gifts and hospitality, and most easy to be entreated. On great questions, too, which lift the mind above sectarian trivialities, they will, as a people, be invariably found on the anti-diabolic side: equally strenuous for liberty and for law, against "mobs and monarchs, lords and levelers," as one of their own stump orators expressed it. The name which Bulwer bestows upon one of his characters, Stick-to-rights, describes every genuine son of Ulster. Among the men of North of Ireland stock, whose names are familiar to the people of the United States, the following may serve to illustrate some of the foregoing remarks: John Stark, Robert Fulton, John C. Calhoun, Sam Houston, David Crockett, Hugh L. White, James K. Polk, Patrick Bronte, Horace Greely, Robert Bonner, A. T. Stewart, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Benton, James G. Blaine, Judge Jervis Black.

Judging by the ocean-like roll of his heart, I am inclined to add to these the name of Abraham Lincoln, and am much disposed to believe that the sturdy honesty of Grover Cleveland springs from the same source.


NOTES:-

[1] Montgomery Papers.

[2] "Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland," by Prendergast—a book in the hands of Colonel Thomas Boyers, of Gallatin—the shortest epitome that can be made intelligible of the motives and methods of these settlements.

[3] Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland.

[4] MS. furnished by granddaughter.

[5] Ramsey, and "Rear Guard of the Revolution."

[6] Address of General Bright.

[7] Omitted, as he was fully represented by another speaker.

[8] Phelan.

[9] Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, pp. 466, 467. [Letter to his uncle in Ireland.]

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