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The Scotch-Irish: A Social History Paperback

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Frequently Bought Together

The Scotch-Irish: A Social History + Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America + From Ulster to Carolina: The Migration of the Scotch-Irish to Southwestern North Carolina
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 397 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; Reprint edition (August 30, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807842591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807842591
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A most readable contribution to the growing body of sophisticated literature on immigration in the colonial period.

Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

Work . . . of such merit that it should supersede most of its predecessors.

Mississippi Valley Historical Review

Shrewd and novel speculations on frontier society and national character. . . . The best survey yet of the Scotch-Irish.

American Historical Review

This admirable book takes a fresh and frank look at the Scotch-Irish.

Journal of Presbyterian History

Clearly written and well organized. . . . Leyburn has provided the general reader with an extremely useful account.

North Carolina Historical Review

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Customer Reviews

The book is also very well written.
J. B. Pritchard
This an excellent tome on the history and society of the ulster scots.
The author's observations are even handed and well documented.
Upward Call

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

128 of 132 people found the following review helpful By Upward Call on July 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a classic. I'm thankful it has been reprinted! The author's observations are even handed and well documented. He presents a comprehensive overview of a people, their geography and their faith - spanning centuries. Sheds light on the Scotch Irish role in the Revolutionary War, settling the American frontier, the spread of the Presbyterian Church in America and much much more. This is a fair, good humored account, written warts and all. The author is not unsympathetic nor uncharitable toward these people, and does an excellent job of communicating their humanity, and showing some of the factors for why they did what they did. I am indebted to the author's dedication and scholarship and enjoyed his footnotes immensely. Having puzzled through why my earliest Scots ancestor was recorded as coming from Ireland, I was greatful to have the fog lifted. He picks up many nuances in this account, down to pet phrases I heard from the lips of my own grandfather 40 years ago. As someone with Scotch Irish ancestors who were devout Presbyterians and who settled in western Pennsylvania, my life has been enriched by this account. My only regret is that it is not hardbound. I am amazed that I had never heard of this book. I found this book quite by accident, but highly commend it to you.
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76 of 77 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 28, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book insightfully examines the creation of a unique Scotch-Irish cultural identity in Northern Ireland within the borders of the Ulster Plantation, the plantation where the seeds of the sectarian Troubles were sown in the early 1600's.
Millions of Americans with Scottish surnames are actually of Scotch-Irish descent... the descendants of poor Scottish farmers who were given the opportunity to cultivate small parcels of ground on captured lands in Northern Ireland starting in 1610. This book is the story of the eviction of native Irish people from ancient family farms, and the exploitation of impoverished Scots who were used to tenant the confiscated properties. The Irish were sent to remote reservations, and some became embittered outlaws who lived beyond the Pale, the boundary of the Ulster Plantation. The Scots persisted and developed a distinct culture, not Scotch and not Irish, then were evicted by their British landlords within three generations.
Ma! ny of the displaced Scotch-Irish emigrated to the Colonies, and populated the dangerous ground along the frontier. Others stayed and became the ancestors of the Unionists, a broad classification which includes the Protestant paramilitary enemies of the IRA.
"The Scotch-Irish: A Social History" provides a fundamental lesson in the long term effects of ethnic cleansing and shows why towns like Belfast, Derry and Enniskillen will likely continue to bleed from within; as well as displaying the elemental survival struggles which hammered the raw fortitude of our Scotch-Irish ancestors into a pioneering spirit.
A must read for students of Irish, Scottish or American history, which, you will see after reading this book, are seemingly irrevocably intertwined.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Dr. W. G. Covington, Jr. on January 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
Professor Leyburn left a valuable legacy in this volume. A niche of American history is covered that sadly, frequently goes overlooked. The Scotch-Irish are a substantial part of the U.S. population. Thankfully Dr. Leyburn told some of the story and it wasn't lost. He tells us in the foreword, "Histories of Scotland rarely devote more than a paragraph to the departure of thousands of Lowland Scots to Ireland in the seventeenth century." It is significant to Americans because "they came, two hundred thousand strong, to the American colonies in the eighteenth century."
They enthusiastically supported the American Revolution (as in significantly caused it to happen) and thought of themselves as "Americans" rather than Scotch-Irish.
This book covers their migrations, their lifestyles, the dominant element of the Christian religion in their society. It is informative, and to me, inspirational.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Hammack on March 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
Leyburn and the Scots-Irish
Leyburn's book (1962) is now "the grand old man" of Scots-Irish historiography, having easily displaced Henry Jones Ford's "The Scotch-Irish in America" (1915) - a book that was the previous generation's best study of the subject. Leyburn was one of the earliest authors to seriously investigate the Scottish background of the Scots-Irish, and did a wonderful job of not overpraising or overly denigrating the Scots-Irish (as a number of previous authors had done). Unfortunately, his book has an important flaw: he did not think very highly of Scots in general, and compared them unfavorably with their more successful (in modern terms) English cousins just about every chance he got. In other words, he did not understand the anthropological concept of culture at all; he was a historian after all, and largely a very good one. However, there is more to understanding the Scots-Irish than documents and written records, as is explained more fully below.

Scots-Irish Historiography
One of the most interesting aspects in Scots-Irish studies is how different schools of thought have risen and debated each other over the course of the last century and a half. There are four primary schools of thought. 1) The Ancestor Worshipper historians were the first to investigate the subject and brought a huge amount of forgotten information to the public eye between circa 1850 and today. Their primary limitation was that they believed that every great thing accomplished by Americans - representative government, education, religion, etc - had their origins with Scots-Irish traditions and heritage. These authors included those included in the volumes published by the Scotch-Irish Congresses, Charles Hanna, Ford, Maude Glasgow, W.F.
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