The Scots Irish of Early Pennsylvania
A Varied People
Publication: Jul 18
Publication: Jul 18
6 x 9
22 halftones, 3 maps
A comprehensive yet concise early history of the Scots Irish in PennsylvaniaRead the Introduction (pdf).
The Scots Irish were one of early Pennsylvania’s largest non-English immigrant groups. They were stereotyped as frontier ruffians and Indian haters. In The Scots Irish of Early Pennsylvania, historian Judith Ridner insists that this immigrant group was socio-economically diverse. Servants and free people, individuals and families, and political exiles and refugees from Ulster, they not only pioneered new frontier settlements, but also populated the state’s cities—Philadelphia and Pittsburgh—and its towns, such as Lancaster, Easton, and Carlisle.
Ridner provides a much-overdue synthesis and reassessment of this immigrant group, tracing a century of Scotch-Irish migration from 1720 to 1820. These men and women brought their version of Ulster to the colonies in their fierce commitments to family, community, entrepreneurship, Presbyterianism, republican politics, and higher education. The settlements they founded across the state, including many farms, businesses, meetinghouses, and colleges, ensured that Pennsylvania would be their cradle in America, and these settlements stand as powerful testaments to their legacy to the state’s history and development.
Published in association with the Pennsylvania Historical Association.
"The history of the Scots Irish (sometimes called the Ulster Scots or Scotch Irish) is important for an understanding of both Irish and early American history.... Pennsylvania, as Judith Ridner shows, attracted the Scots Irish because Philadelphia was a major port, and, more importantly, because it had no established church and welcomed Presbyterians.... Ridner explains at length that an important element of the Scots Irish character was their Presbyterian beliefs.... This will be a useful book for both Pennsylvania and Irish history."
— Journal of American History
" A particularly notable achievement of The Scots Irish of Early Pennsylvania is Ridner's success in expanding this narrative to include—indeed to highlight—the Scots Irish in cities and towns.... (It) is an important reminder of the multiclass nature of this diaspora.... Ridner unquestionably fulfills her remit, producing an intelligent, readable, valuable short history of the Scots Irish in early Pennsylvania."
— Pennsylvania History
" In a persuasive and insightful narrative, Ridner addresses the stereotype of the Scots Irish in the American imagination and their importance to Pennsylvania history. Drawing on recent scholarship in an engaging and accessible style, The Scots Irish of Early Pennsylvania details the history of ‘a people with no name.’"
—Janet Moore Lindman, Professor of History, Rowan University, and author of Bodies of Belief: Baptist Community in Early America
" Ridner does a wonderful job of summarizing the Scots Irish experience in mid-eighteenth-century Pennsylvania. Elegantly surveying how the group coped with the changes brought about by war and revolution between 1754 and 1783, her research on the experiences of Scots Irish women, in particular, is a welcome addition to the literature. While taking into consideration cultural adaptation on the frontier, Ridner’s work on the hitherto neglected contribution made by Scots Irish migrants in Philadelphia and other emerging urban centers broadens the group's experience in North America beyond a story of westward movement and frontier conflict. In short, The Scots Irish of Early Pennsylvania accomplishes the difficult task of presenting the diversity of experience that marked the lives of Irish women and men throughout Pennsylvania in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries."—Benjamin Bankhurst, Assistant Professor of History, Shepherd University, and author of Ulster Presbyterians and the Scots Irish Diaspora, 1750–1764
"(An) eminently readable account.... Ridner looks beyond mythic (and often contradictory) stereotypes and confusing nomenclature to consider the Irish experience, the reasons for transatlantic crossing, and the construction of community in Colonial Pennsylvania." — Pennsylvania Heritage
Table of Contents
Editors’ Foreword, by Allen Dieterich-Ward and Beverly C. Tomek
Introduction: Defining These Varied People
1. Life in Ulster
2. Coming to Pennsylvania
3. Building Communities
4. Fighting Indians and Others
5. The Revolution and Beyond
Conclusion: Their Varied Legacy
About the Author(s)
In the Series
Pennsylvania History edited by Allen Dieterich-Ward and David Witwer
The Pennsylvania History series, edited by Allen Dieterich-Ward and David Witwer, designed to make high-quality scholarship accessible for students, advances the mission of the Pennsylvania Historical Association by engaging with key social, political, and cultural issues in the history of the state and region.