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The Scotch-Irish in the earlier years of the settlement were often intermarried. We quote a paper which throws light on this point, and on much more:[3]

"The humble petition of the officers within the precincts of Dublin, Catherlough, Wexford, and Kilkenny, in the behalf of themselves, their souldiers, and other faithful English Protestants, to the lord deputy and council of Ireland."

They pray that the original order of the council of state in England, confirmed by Parliament, September 27, 1653, requiring the removal of all the Irish nation into Connaught, except boys of fourteen and girls of twelve, might be enforced: "For we humbly conceive (say they), that the proclamation for transplanting only the proprietors, and such as have bin in arms, will neither answer the end of safety, nor what else is aimed at thereby. For the first purpose of the transplantation is to prevent those of natural principles (i. e., of natural affections), becoming one with these Irish, as well in affinity as idolatry, as many thousands did, who came over in Queen Elizabeth's time, many of which have had a deep hand in all the late murthers and massacres. And shall we join in affinity (they ask) with the people of these abominations?

"Would not the Lord be angry with us till he consumes us, having said, 'The land which ye go to possess is an unclean land, because of the filthiness of the people that dwell therein. Ye shall not, therefore, give your sons to their daughters, nor take their daughters to your sons,' as it is in Ezra, ix, 11, 12, 14. "Nay ye shall surely root them out before you, lest they cause you to forsake the Lord, your God.' Deut. vii, 2, 3, 4, 16, 18."

We have mention, in the documents giving details of the transplantation, of the names of many high born persons who had thus intermarried. Even Cromwell's old soldiers, full of pious cant and great fear of the abominations of idolatry in the lands where thousands of Irishmen had been slaughtered, and tens of thousands sent out of the land into Spain and the West Indies, found the charms of the Irish maidens, full of vigorous life, chastity, and redolent with healthful beauty, more than they could resist, and so made them wives of the daughters of the land.

We have thus the indomitable, prudent, calculating, metaphysical, God-fearing, tyrant-hating Scotch, brought by marriage into blood relationship with the brave, reckless, emotional, intuitive, God-loving, liberty-adoring Irish.

We shall see the results when we find these people the cautious builders of free constitutional government, and at the same time, the pioneers of American civilization.


The Scotch settlers in Ireland, for the government of which the English and Irish were often at war, found themselves so greatly in the minority that they could only stand and see their own civil and religious rights the foot-balls of a government where they had no representation. Their religious and civil rights subject to the whims of kings, courtiers, lord lieutenants, bishops, either Romish or Protestant.

In one reign rewarded for services by wrongful gifts of Irish estates, in a subsequent, deprived of their possessions and their services forgotten that more hungry adventurers, or the exchequer of needy monarchs might be replenished. They had for three hundred years been compelled to know by actual daily experience the evils of provincial government by kingly favorites, the arrogance, hate, and cruelty of episcopal interference and control. Added to these they felt the narrow hatred and hypocritical cruelty of the Puritan soldiers who prayed to God for strength to visit untold horrors on the men, women and children whom they were robbing in their acts of transportation. Besides these ever recurring religious and political perplexities, they saw their industries at the mercy of the orders of the throne or the English parliament. In other words, government without representation had burnt its evils into their very souls, until in despair of any desirable future to be found in Ireland, and in resolute determination to win a future on the high plane of their own value of manhood and liberty, they deliberately chose to hazard the wilds of America. Their reasons for seeking America had little in common with the adventurers who had been induced by large promises to emigrate from England. They were in nowise allied to the people transplanted by force from England. They were the very people the English most desired to remain in Ireland. They had more in common with the Puritans than with their other persecutors, but even from these had marked distinctions. The strong points and virtues of the two were much the same. A sentence may show the line of distinction, they held in more contempt a restricted hospitality than they did May-poles, their laugh was as hearty, musical, and manly as the groan of the Puritans was affected, grating and inhuman. With this necessary allusion to the blood and environment which gave form, vigor and fitness to this race, we come to the period of their emigration to and settlement in America.

Before passing to the settlement of America, there are a few bright factors entering into the environment of our forefathers in Ireland that we pause on a moment with pleasure. Bishop Echlin, who was himself a native of Scotland in the ordination of Robert Blair, who came as a missionary from the Presbyterian church of Scotland to Ireland, attained a position of lofty Christian manhood little known to bishops of any era. Aided by the influence of Scotch Presbyterian learning and love of liberty, the University of Dublin was founded on very liberal principles. To Dr. James, afterward Archbishop Usher, a professor in this university, was assigned the task of drawing up a confession of faith for the Irish church. To him we are largely indebted for one of the most liberal and comprehensive confessions of faith ever drawn up in Christendom. Afterward, as archbishop, we find this great man standing firmly for liberty of conscience and the protection of the Scotch Presbyterian preachers, until overruled by orders from England. Again to Oliver Cromwell we turn for the exhibition of tolerance far in advance of the Puritan parliament.

These acts of toleration and protection were not without their due influence on the minds of our ancestors. They saw then what the world is slow to learn, that the highest tolerance and the broadest freedom belong to the greatest men; not to one form of government; not to one form of doctrine. The men grand enough to outgrow their environment, and defend freedom of thought for those who differ from them, have as yet been too few to pass by their names or forget their influence, in even the most meager historical sketch of the age to which they belong. These were grand beacon-lights, which shone on the struggling days of our forefathers.

Usher towered above the Church of England. Cromwell breached the iron walls of Puritanism. All honor to men who thus grow to proportions which may gladden our hope and confidence in the possibilities of the race.


"The Protestant settlers in Ireland at the beginning of the seventeenth century were of the same metal with those who afterward sailed in the Mayflower—Presbyterians, Puritans, Independents—in search of a wider breathing-space than was allowed them at home. By an unhappy perversity they had fallen under the same stigma, and were exposed to the same inconveniences. The bishops had chafed them with persecutions. . . . The heroism with which the Scots held the northern province against the Kilkenny parliament and Owen Roe O'Neil, was an insufficient offset against the sin of nonconformity. . . . This was a stain for which no excellence could atone. The persecutions were renewed, but did not cool Presbyterian loyalty. When the native race made their last effort, under James II., to recover their lands, the Calvinists of Derry won immortal honor for themselves, and flung over the wretched annals of their adopted country a solitary gleam of true glory. Even this passed for nothing. They were still dissenters; still unconscious that they owed obedience to the hybrid successors of St. Patrick, the prelates of the Establishment; and no sooner was peace reestablished than spleen and bigotry were again at their old work. Vexed with suits in the ecclesiastical courts, forbidden to educate their children in their own faith, treated as dangerous to a state which but for them would have had no existence, and deprived of their civil rights, the most earnest of them at length abandoned the unthankful service. If they intended to live as free men, speaking no lies, and professing openly the creed of the Reformation, they must seek a country where the long arm of prelacy was still too short to reach them. During the first half of the eighteenth century, Down, Antrim, Tyrone, Armagh, and Derry, were emptied of Protestant inhabitants, who were of more value to Ireland than California gold mines." "In two years," says Froude, "which followed the Antrim evictions, thirty thousand Protestants left Ulster for a land where there was no legal robbery, and where those who sowed the seed could reap the harvest. . . . The south and west were caught by the same movement, and ships could not be found to carry the crowds who were eager to go."

A minister of Ulster, writing to a friend in Scotland, in 1718, laments the desolation occasioned in that region "by the removal of several of our brethren to the American plantations. Not less than six ministers have demitted their congregations, and great numbers of the people go with them." Ten years later, Archbishop Boulter wrote to the English Secretary of State respecting the extensive emigration to America: "The humor has spread like a contagious distemper; and the worst is, that it affects only Protestants, and reigns chiefly in the North." About the same time, we find James Logan, the President of the Proprietary Council of Pennsylvania, who had identified himself with the Quakers, and was prejudiced against the emigrants from Ireland, expressing "the common fear that, if they (the Scotch-Irish) continue to come, they will make themselves proprietors of the province." He further, in 1729, expresses "himself glad to find that the Parliament is about to take measures to prevent their too free emigration to this country. It looks as if Ireland is to send all her inhabitants hither; for last week not less than six ships arrived, and every day two or three arrive also." Dr. Baird, in his History of Religion in America, states that, "from 1729 to 1750, about 12,000 annually came from Ulster to America."

These emigrants landed at the ports of Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston. Comparatively few entered the country by way of New England. Those that did so, settled mainly in New Hampshire, while others found their way to Pennsylvania, and helped swell the tide which was pouring into this state by way of Philadelphia. These Irish settlers occupied the eastern and middle counties, bordering on the wilderness still occupied by the Indians. Such as landed at Charleston, located themselves on the fertile lands of North and South Carolina and Georgia. The settlers in Pennsylvania afterward turned southward through the valley of Virginia, till, "meeting those extending northward from the Carolinas, the emigration passed westward to the country then called 'beyond the mountains,' now known as Kentucky and Tennessee." At a later period, Western Pennsylvania was occupied by the descendants of the settlers in the middle counties of the state, with Pittsburg as a center. From these points of radiation, the Scotch-Irish have extended to all parts of the country, and, being an intelligent, resolute, and energetic people, have left their name and mark in every state of the Union.

Their youth, at this early period, "were generally educated at home, and under parental instruction, and trained to obedience and subordination, as the unbending law of the family. The schools established by Presbyterian ministers, confirmed and extended the home education. The impress of such instrumentalities was not only manifested in the families of church members, but, by association and influence, extended beyond the pale of organized congregations, and their tendency was to reform and elevate public sentiment and morals' as well as the habits and manners of the people."

The mass of these emigrants were men of intelligence, resolution, energy, religious and moral character, having means that enabled them to supply themselves with suitable selections of land, on which they made permanent homes for their families, and from which they derived an ample support. By their own enterprise and industry they hewed out for themselves valuable farms from the primeval forest; and the toils, sacrifices, and perils, incident to their life in the New World, formed, in both men and women, the characters which were requisite to endure the hardships and dangers of their frontier situation. These traits of character were manifest also in their descendants. Brought up under such education and training, they have since been the "pioneers and founders of settlements in the North-western Territory, and the states formed out of it, and have been amongst the most prominent, useful, and distinguished citizens of the republic." "They were a God-fearing, liberty-loving, tyrant-hating, Sabbath-keeping, covenant-adhering race; trained by trials, made resolute by oppression, governed by conscience, and destined to achieve a mission and place in the history of the church and the race."

Of the early ministers, a very large proportion were from the Irish church. Francis Makemie (1682) was a member of Lagan Presbytery. George McNish (1705) was from Ulster. John Henry (1709) was ordained by the Presbytery of Dublin John Mackey Was from Ireland. Samuel young, of New Castle Presbytery, belonged originally to the Presbytery of Armagh. Robert Cross, Alexander Hutcheson, Thomas Craighead, Joseph Houston, Adam Boyd, John Wilson, and many other useful and honored ministers, were accessions to the ministry of the Presbyterian Church in this country previous to 1730. And from this period, the number who came was continually on the increase. Nor would it be difficult to prove to the satisfaction of all sincere inquirers after truth, that we are indebted to these same men "for the germs of our civil liberties and institutions, as really as for our own noble system of faith and order." As might be expected from their antecedents and providential training, they were ardent lovers, and strong defenders of civil liberty. They hated tyranny with almost "perfect hatred." They had received a discipline that could never be lost, and of all the memories of childhood, none could remain more fresh and impressive than those received from the lips of parents numbered among the heroic champions of freedom at Derry and Enniskillen. And the earliest Scotch-Irish emigrants to America were men who had been participants, or children of those who were participants, in the terrible drama which closed with the battle of the Boyne. Accordingly we find that these men were among the earliest champions of freedom, and the most earnest and persistent defenders of the rights of the people, as against the unjust actions of the British government. No less an authority than the historian Bancroft, states that, "the first public voice in America for dissolving all connection with Great Britain came not from the Puritans of New England, the Dutch of New York, nor the planters of Virginia, but from Scotch-Irish Presbyterians." Abbe Raynal, in his history contemporary with our Revolutionaty struggle, though on the side of American independence, does not hesitate to say that the provocations by the British government to the American colonies were so much less than those to which the age was eyery-where accustomed that it was a matter of deep surprise how the Americans could have been brought to so heroic resistance on grounds so slight. He traces the fact that in the early years of the struggle the mass of our people were little interested in the result. The masses of Americans who had known nothing for generations of provincial government without representation were in no condition to see the dangers which threatened them.

The Scotch-Irish who landed in Boston and New York found colonists too readily submissive to foreign dictation, and preferred to seek Pennsylvania and Maryland, where the proprietary governors and the people governed were in immediate contact. There they pressed to the frontier, where they could organize local governments of their own choosing. Those who reached Virginia passed again to the frontier; they loved neither the aristocratic government nor the episcopal dictation of this colony. Those landing in the south passed north and west in search of similar freedom, so soon as they had met in sufficient proportions to realize their own power. They were led to find homes where they could exercise their attachment to the doctrine affirmed by one of their ministers, speaking for all, as early as 1650, when required by the Long Parliament to subscribe to the oath against a goverment of king, lords, and commons; in refusing, he said:

"Men are called to the magistracy by the suffrage of the people, whom they govern; and for men to assume unto themselves power, is mere tyranny and unjust usurpation." This he said on account of the self-constituted authority of this Parliament. This doctrine, new to civil government, which they had derived from religious convictions, traditions, and struggles, was first to receive, the baptism of blood, May 10, 1771, at


Having mentioned the battle of Alamance, and finding that in some of our histories the character and purposes of the Regulators engaged in this conflict have been greatly misunderstood, I offer the following extract from the life of David Caldwell, D.D., by Rev. E. W. Caruthers, of North Carolina.

"A people who have been religiously educated, as a majority of the Regulators had been, and who had been taught to regard the Bible as a revelation from heaven, are not apt to rise at once in open rebellion against the established government, or bid defiance to the regularly constituted authorities of the land. This is the work of time and reflection. There must be consultation and inquiry into facts for the purpose of satisfying their own consciences, and of justifying themselves before the world. There will be some regard to the voice of reason: some efforts will be made to obtain a redress of grievances without the hazard and sufferings attending a conflict with 'the powers that be.' And then they must have mutual encouragement and mutual pledges of fidelity and support. This is just what we find in the men whose principles and conduct are now under consideration, and it does not appear that hitherto they had as a body made any direct resistance to the operations of government. Fanning and others, who had in the same way become obnoxious to the people, were made the subjects of ridicule or of merriment by the wits and wags of the day, and, as usual in such cases, caricatures and pasquinades abounded. The meeting at Maddock's mills, as we have seen, resolved that they would pay no more illegal taxes, unless they were forced; that they would pay no more exorbitant fees to officers, except by compulsion, and that they would bear an open testimony against it; that they would hold frequent meetings for conference, which they would request their representatives to attend for the purpose of giving them information respecting what was done in the legislature, and of consulting together about the measures that ought to be adopted for the common welfare; that they would select more suitable men for the various offices in the gift of the people; that they would petition the assembly, governor, council, king and parliament, for redress of their grievances: that they would contribute to collections for defraying whatever expenses might be necessary in this undertaking; that whenever a difference of opinion might arise they would submit to the majority; and as a pledge of their fidelity in the performance of these things they bound themselves by an oath or affirmation." In all this we see nothing but the principles and spirit which covered the patriots of '76 with immortal honor; and only because they were better sustained, had more ample resources, and were more successful.

This battle was followed by the call of Colonel Thomas Polk, on the 19th day of May, 1775, for the convention, which gave an "unanimous aye" to the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, a declaration remarkable for its heroism, and at the same time its provision for continued government; there was no moment of anarchy between their Declaration of Independence from the British crown, and the erection of a government of their own ordination.


I have in my possession ample evidence of the Scotch-Irish blood of the Polks. The evidence of genealogy, and the details of service rendered by this distinguished family would occupy more space in this address than your time allows.

I shall, therefore, file these papers with the custodian of the historical papers of the society, and content myself with the mention of only a few prominent events in the lives of a few of the most distinguished members of the family. While dealing with Colonel Thomas Polk, we will complete what we have to say of his direct line, adding a few incidents not to be found in the regular histories. As has already been said, Thomas Polk, as colonel of the militia of the district, called the convention which passed unanimously the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. The document, which had been written before the meeting by his son-in-law, Ephraim Brevard, was read to the convention, submitted to a committee for revision, as revised, was re-read, unanimously adopted, and read by order of convention, at the courthouse door to the assembled people by Colonel Polk. This had been immortality enough for one man or one family, but Colonel Polk was later a member of the colonial congress, and brigadier-general, was at the battle of Germantown, and in the colonial congress of North Carolina, which was the first to instruct for independence, April, 1776.

John Simpson, one of the witnesses of the Declaration of Independence, of May 20, in giving his testimony (before committee of North Carolina legislature), relates this anecdote: "An aged man near me, on being asked if he knew any thing of this affair (Declaration of 20th), replied: 'Och, aye; Tam Polk declared independence lang before any body else.'"


Son of General Thomas Polk and Susan (nee Spratt), was born, 1759. He left Queens College, Charlotte, when sixteen years of age (1775), and entered the army as lieutenant in Colonel Thompson's (Old Danger) regiment. He was detailed by Colonel Thompson with thirty men to watch the movements of tories in South Carolina. He was led into an ambuscade by his guide (one Sol. Deason) and was badly wounded in the shoulder, from which he did not recover in a year. "This was the first blood shed south of Lexington," so says General Andrew Jackson, in a sketch written in 1844, when James K. Polk was a candidate for the presidency, also an autobiography written by Colonel Polk, for Judge Murphy, of North Carolina.

General Jackson was a small boy at school with Colonel Polk, at Charlotte, North Carolina. They were life-long friends, and I think that Jackson, although not of military age, was a short time in service with Colonel Polk.

Colonel William Polk's Memoir.

He was with General Davis as volunteer captain at Beaver Creek (Wheeler, 190 page).
At Cowans Ford, July 20, 1780, by the side of General Davidson when he fell (Wheeler, 235).
With General Nash at Germantown. when he (Polk) was wounded in the cheek.
Captain in charge when liberty bell was removed from Philadelphia.
He was the first representative from Davidson county (Tenn.) in North Carolina legislature.
Member of North Carolina assembly, 1787, 1790, 1791.
President of North Carolina state bank.
Was appointed by "Washington supervisor of all the ports of North Carolina, which he retained until the office was abolished.
Was a member of the Cincinnati society.
At the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.
At the "Cowpens," where his brother Thomas was killed.

Query: Did not Colonel Polk give the name of Nashville and Davidson to the city and county? Having been at the side of General Davidson when he fell, and with General Nash when he was killed, and being the first representative from Davidson, I think confirms the tradition that he named or caused them to be so named. Colonel Polk was offered the commission of brigadier-general by Madison, in the war of 1812 and '13, which he in a patriotic letter declined, and then tendered his service to the governor of North Carolina.

"It was certainly creditable to the Scotch-Irish of North Carolina, as they were the first to secede from the mother country, and so remained that the blood of one of their sons was the first shed (South) in the cause of Liberty," says Bancroft.

General Bishop Leondias Polk, whose life was given in the cause of the South, was a son of Colonel William Polk. General Lucius E. Polk is a grandson.


A granddaughter of Colonel William Polk, Antoinette Polk, married Baron de Charette, nephew of Comte De Chambord, the Orleans claimant, until his death, of the French throne. She is a charming and noble woman, and is well remembered in Maury county for her courage and daring horsemanship, and also for a famous race.

Before Columbia, Tenn., was taken possession of by either army, General Wilder and his cavalry made a dash into the town to surprise and capture Confederate soldiers, who were scattered at Ashwood and country houses near the town.

Antionette Polk, then a girl of sixteen, was at her uncle's, Dr. William Polk's home, the site of the present U. S. arsenal. Hearing of the raid, she ran to the stable, saddled her fine blooded horse, and not taking time for gloves, started off to give the alarm to the soldiers along the pike, and at Ashwood. As she emerged from the woods she saw she was pursued by several cavalrymen. A countryman, seeing her danger, jumped from his cart, threw wide open the gate, and through she darted, followed by the cavalrymen, and then they raced six miles down the Mt. Pleasant pike. Though they picked up the long ostrich plumes and hat with which she whipped her horse, the lady, the soldiers said, vanished from their sight; but when she was taken fainting from her horse near Mt. Pleasant, she had accomplished her work, and not a soldier was taken prisoner at Ashwood.

The part taken by this distinguished family in the late war between the states is beyond the limits our time will allow.

Bishop (General) Leonidas Polk, and General Lucius Eugene Polk will appear in future history as the peers of the foremost men of their day. President James K. Polk belongs to another place in this address.

Let us return to our proper chronological point, the Declaration of Independence of Mecklenburg, May 20, 1775. The first voice publicly raised in America to dissolve all connections with Great Britain came from the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. To those at Mecklenburg are to be added an assembly of the same people at Hanna's Town, Western Pennsylvania, May, 1776.

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