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The Impact of Ulster Scots Migrants

The Ulster Scots are known in the US as the Scotch-Irish or Scots-Irish. They are often seen as part of the Irish diaspora, but Scotland doesn’t give up its sons and daughters lightly and this group can be regarded as part of Scotland’s history too, though they are a relatively little known part of it.  

Copyright - Cameron TaylorIf you are one of the 22 million or so Americans with Ulster-Scots roots, you are in good company. For a start, 17 US Presidents have been of Ulster-Scots ancestry. The first was Andrew Jackson, the seventh American President (1829-37) and the founder of the Democratic Party; the most recent is George W. Bush (2001- ). Some of the Ulster-Scots presidential are more direct than others, but 17 out of 43 Presidents represents quite a record of achievement.

Emigrants from Ulster had an immediate impact on the emerging US nation. They were resourceful, confident people, used to hard work in frontier conditions. Their pioneering spirit saw them at the vanguard of westwards expansion, creating a new country where ideas of freedom and independence came to be enshrined in the Constitution.  Many Ulster-Scots were American patriots and several played important parts in the framing of the Declaration of Independence, which was signed on 4 July 1776. George Washington paid tribute to the ideals of freedom held by the Ulster-Scots when he reportedly said that ‘if defeated everywhere else I will make my last stand for liberty among the Scotch-Irish of my native Virginia.’Copyright - Cameron Taylor

Ulster-Scots also made their mark in New Zealand with 2 notable emigrants being John Balance and William Ferguson Massey, former Prime Ministers of New Zealand.

They spread to Canada too and one very well known figure was Timothy Eaton, who emigrated from Ulster as a young man and went on to build a Canadian business empire founded on department stores and the then-revolutionary concept of mail order. Eaton’s became a household name in Canada, and the Eaton Centre in Toronto remains the city’s largest shopping centre.

Article taken from Rooted in Scotland (2007), by Cameron Taylor. 
Chapter 4 The Ulster Connection, pp89-107,
Published by Luath Press, Edinburgh. 
Click here to find out more about the book or purchase it.
All images copyright of Cameron Taylor.

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