Highland Settlers - CiteSeerX

Highland Settlers - CiteSeerX

Highland Settlers Booklet © 2012 Michael Newton Highland Settlers: Scottish Highland Immigrants in North America Teaching Materials fo...

2MB Sizes 1 Downloads 7 Views

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

Highland Settlers:

Scottish Highland Immigrants in North America

Teaching Materials for the study of Scottish Highland immigrants in North America

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

Text and Research © Michael Newton 2003-6, 2012 Last update: 2012 May 30 No part of this can be reproduced or reused without the written permission of the author. Cover Art “Big Finnan and the Buffalo” and three ethnic icons (Highlander, Lowlander, Scotch-Irish) by Matthew Horton, student at the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School (2003), and used by his permission Photo Credits: Hugh Barron: Picture of William Fraser. Hugh Cheape: Emigration Advertisement. Michael Newton: Misc Ads, Cambridge Cross, Hugh MacLaurin’s Grave, map from A Handbook of the Scottish Gaelic World, family tree of Celtic languages.

First presented at the Highland Settlers Conference Virginia Historical Society and University of Richmond November 6, 2003

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

1: Immigration This booklet was created to provide a general overview of the history, culture and literature of the Scottish Highland immigrants who came to North America. It is intended to be an educational supplement for the Highland Settlers conference held in November 2003 at the University of Richmond and the Virginia Historical Society. As the tale of these immigrants and their legacy in North America has not yet been recognized or addressed by educational authorities, we hope that this booklet will be used to supplement educational resources in classrooms and homes. The appendices in particular provide materials for teachers and students. The native language of the Scottish Highlands is Gaelic and the cultural legacy of the Scottish Highlanders is best understood and explained by means of the reference points available in Gaelic literature and tradition. It is important, if they are to be studied and represented as real people and not simply quantitative data or names on passenger lists, that we understand them on their own terms. Formal education in Scotland focused on the English language to the exclusion of Gaelic, and so many Gaels never learnt to write in their own mother tongue. Still, they continued to express themselves and their opinions in Gaelic, and we are fortunate that some of their oral and written literature survive which documents these experiences. Only the English translations of these texts are given in this booklet; you can find most of the original Gaelic texts in the works listed in the bibliography. Scottish Highlanders have their own cultural and literary legacy and need to be understood as a legitimate society in their own right. We will do a disservice to any society if we only ask “What are its contributions to world civilization?” or “How has it influenced American culture” or even “How does it explain who I am?” Such questions force us to remain outside the culture and impose foreign values and concepts upon it. We cannot hope to understand another culture if we are unwilling or unable to let go of our own frames of reference. The Scottish Highlanders should not be confused with the people of Lowland Scotland or the so-called “Scotch-Irish.” People celebrating Scottish heritage in the United States often fail to differentiate the Ulster Protestant planters (“Scotch-Irish”), the Lowland Scots, and the Highland Scots. Aspects of Highland heritage (the tartan and kilt, the Highland landscape, and so on) are generalized to all of Scots, despite the fact that these things would have been alien, if not anathema, to Lowlanders. Later icons of Lowland culture (such as Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and bagpipe bands) have been projected backwards onto Highland ancestors who would not have recognized them as aspects of their heritage, while crucial aspects of Highland culture, especially the Gaelic language, are neglected. The way in which Scottish heritage is typically represented can be very misleading to the unwary. Most of what passes for Highland tradition now was created outside of the Highlands during the nineteenth or twentieth centuries; in other words, long after most Highland immigrants had already left Scotland. If these original settlers could see what is now celebrated as being their heritage, they would seldom recognize it. This is not to say that these things are not valid or should not be done, only to warn that we need to be mindful of how tradition is invented, who invents it, why, and how. In other words, we need to apply critical thinking. The idea that each clan has its own tartan was only invented in the 1820s; bagpipe bands evolved in the British military from the 1860s onwards and were imported into America in the twentieth century; Highland Games developed under the patronage of Queen Victoria and were molded by the British elite for their own agenda; the Kirkin’ of the Tartan was invented in America during World War II and has never been performed in Scotland; and so on. Despite these red herrings, the determined student of Highland culture can trace many aspects of modern traditions and arts to their sources in Gaelic-speaking society and often find living

Page 1

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

tradition-bearers who still perform them, even if they are not recognized publicly and do not feature in any formal institutions. The history of immigrants in America is often told by recounting the stories of a number of individuals who were able to overcome poverty and other obstacles and achieve wealth and fame in their adopted country. This booklet focuses on another dimension of the immigrant experience, that of culture. Only by examining this cultural background can we ask and answer such questions as: What previous experiences shaped the attitudes, perceptions, values, and behavior of the immigrant? Was there something unique to Scottish Highland immigrants which made their contributions to America different from those of Italian, Jewish, German, French, Spanish, and other immigrants? Have they influenced American culture? Highlanders settled throughout North America and the Gaelic language has roots in the “New World” as old as any other language from Europe. Highland heritage does not belong exclusively to people of any one region, race, color, or creed. It should, rather, be celebrated by all North Americans. Until the story of the Scottish Highland immigrants in the North America is researched properly, we will not understand the entire story of the Highland people. Neither will we understand fully the people and cultural elements that have come to create North America until we take account of Scottish Highland immigrants and their experiences.

2: Highlands and Lowlands The Roman term Scotti referred to Gaelic speakers, whether they lived in Ireland or in one of the many sea-girt land masses in the territory which we now call “Scotland.” It is unclear how long Gaelic speakers have been in Argyllshire (in the southwest of Scotland): perhaps for well before the Roman era. Gaelic is a branch of the Celtic language family. Some of the languages within the Celtic family continued to evolve and mutate into new dialects in the Middle Ages. Pictish Cumbric British Continental Celtic



Old Welsh

Mid Welsh

Mod Welsh

Breton Southern Brythonic Cornish

Insular Celtic

Ulster Irish North Gaelic

Scottish Gaelic East Gaelic


Manx Gaelic Munster Irish South Gaelic Connacht Irish Ogam 400 - 600

Old Gaelic 600 - 900

Middle Gaelic 900-1200

Early Mod Gaelic 1200-1600

Modern Gaelic 1600-2000

Scotland was a kingdom built in the early Middle Ages by Gaelic-speaking kings expanding east and north from their early base, a kingdom they called Dál Riata. Although it is on a different branch of the Celtic tree from the Brythonic branch, Scottish Gaelic was absorbing Brythonic elements – especially from Pictish – during the medieval period as more and more of the Brythonic Celts were being absorbed into the Gaelic speech community. By about the 10th century, when Gaelic culture became dominant in the core kingdom of the Picts, the kingdom came to be name after the Gaels.

Page 2

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

The establishment of feudalism in Scotland in the twelfth century, however, introduced settlers from Northern England and the Low Countries of Europe in burghs to stimulate commerce and to organize a feudal military system. The language and culture of these incomers dominated most of the Lowlands of Scotland by the fifteenth century. As Gaelic had been driven from the national institutions of Scotland, however, it ceased to have significance in national identity and failed to secure official patronage for development. Gaels held on to much of the north and west of Scotland – the Highlands – and their ancient language and customs. Gaelic poets frequently stressed the importance of Gaelic solidarity and clan leaders were expected to be effective warriors and commanders of armed forces as warfare became the best defense against a hostile central government and potentially hostile neighbors. The term “Gael” became equivalent to “Highlander” and Scottish Gaeldom reoriented itself back towards Ireland, and away from the estranged central government. These geographic and linguistic shifts brought about corresponding changes in the names used by English-speakers to describe the languages of Scotland: Before 1400

After 1500

Gaelic language


Erse (“Irish”)

English language



The Highlanders came to see themselves as the dispossessed, indigenous people of Scotland. On the one hand, they often recognized that their neighbors in the Lowlands were naturalized citizens of the same kingdom, however much language and culture divided them. On the other hand, Highlanders often saw the people of the Lowlands as a legitimate target for their grievances, especially in the form of cattle-raiding. The most celebrated statement about this cultural division was recorded in the chronicles of John of Fordun (c. 1380), although it seems to have been originally written by some other Scottish writer c.1260. This confirms the perception that cultural traits followed linguistic boundaries: The manners and customs of the Scots vary with the diversity of their speech. For two languages are spoken amongst them, the Scottish [Gaelic] and the Teutonic [English]; the latter of which is the language of those who occupy the seaboard and plains, while the race of Scottish speech inhabits the Highlands and outlying islands. The people of the coast are of domestic and civilized habits … The Highlanders and people of the islands, on the other hand, are a savage and untamed race, rude and independent, given to rapine, ease-loving … hostile to the English people and language … and exceedingly cruel.

Although this polarized view of things is rather oversimplified it does provide the archetype of the Highlander as “untamed savage” which was to reappear in official documents until recent times. The Gaels, on the other hand, did not have much admiration for the Lowlanders or their way of life in the towns:

Page 3

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

The Highlanders, again, regarded the Lowlanders as a very inferior mongrel race of intruders, sons of little men, without heroism, without ancestry, or genius … who could neither sleep upon the snow, compose extempore songs, recite long tales of wonder or of woe, or live without bread and without shelter for weeks together, following the chace [sic]. Whatever was mean or effeminate, whatever was dull, slow, mechanical, or torpid, was in the Highlands imputed to the Lowlanders, and exemplified by allusions to them…

Irish priests promoting the Counter-Reformation in the Scottish Highlands during the first half of the seventeenth century similarly characterized the two communities by their language. They explained that differences between the Highlanders and the Lowlanders were as great as the differences between Scots and Greeks, and that there was a long-standing and mutual hostility between the two peoples. King James VI initiated aggressive measures to conquer the Gaels. In 1598, he planned colonies of Lowlanders in Kintyre, Lochaber, and Lewis. In 1609, he had several Highland chieftains kidnapped and forced to agree to the Statutes of Iona. These laws were meant to undermine local political loyalties, reinforce the authority of the protestant church in the Highlands, bring an end to “subversive” Gaelic practices, and force the young elite of the Highlands to be educated in English in schools in the Lowlands. The people who were later called the “Scotch-Irish” were protestants loyal to the British Crown, brought in to colonize the north of Ireland and break the link between Scottish and Irish Gaeldom which had made Ireland so hard for the English to conquer. These protestant colonists were primarily recruited from the North of England and the Lowlands of Scotland, although they also included some Scottish Highlanders, native Irish Gaels, and French Huguenots. They were never a single homogenous group of people, nor was the term “Scotch-Irish” commonly used for them until the nineteenth century. As their identity was primarily based on their loyalty to the Crown, their use of English and their religious orientation – characteristics that set them apart from the Gaels – they are not relevant to the purposes of this booklet. The following chart gives a simplified picture of these three groups and their most salient characteristics (in broad brushstrokes): Who






Scottish form of English

Various dialects of English

Religious Affiliations

Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian

Presbyterian, Episcopal


Way of Life

Subsistence-level cattle-raising with minimal agriculture

Producing goods in burghs supplemented by agriculture

Agriculture supplemented by export goods

It is a truism that history is written by the winners. The “standard” histories of Scotland have been written by Anglophones using documents written by previous generations of Englishspeakers, and thus these histories still reflect long-standing anti-Gaelic prejudices. Most travelers from England and Lowland Scotland could only see the Highlanders as poor, barbaric,

Page 4

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

backwards, and ignorant. Gaelic-speakers have long been aware of these prejudices. Hugh MacDonald, a historian of the Clan Donald, wrote in about 1628: These partial pickers of Scotish chronology and history never spoke a favourable word of the Highlanders, much less of the Islanders and Macdonalds, whose great power and fortune the rest of the nobility envied … Although the Macdonalds might be as guilty as any others, yet they never could expect common justice to be done them by a Lowland writer.

Recovering the legacy of the Scottish Highlanders requires listening to the voices of the people themselves, often lost and crowded out by their English-speaking neighbors. When we do, a very different picture emerges. Alasdair MacLean Sinclair, an outstanding Gaelic scholar born in Nova Scotia, argued in 1889 that only by recourse to Gaelic materials can we overcome the stereotypes and prejudices emanating from outside Highland culture: Where are we to learn what the manners and customs of the old Highlanders were? We are a thousand times more dependent upon old Gaelic poems than the Irish. The true history of the Highlanders is to be found in their poems and nowhere else. The world at large may not care very much how our forefathers looked at things and how they lived; but surely men with Highland blood in their veins should take some interest in these things. The Scottish Highlanders were not savages but noble-hearted and intelligent men.

3: Gaelic Oral Tradition The Gaelic poets were aware that they were important spokespeople and defenders of the traditional values of Gaelic society that were being undermined by the forces of English-speaking society. While hereditary qualities provided strong precedents it was important for them to emphasize the obligation of the chieftain to fulfill his duties. The praise of the poets was as often prescriptive than descriptive, although they could withhold praise, or even satirize, when occasion called for it. The poet, then, had an important social duty, mediating between chieftain, tenantry, the traditional value system of Gaelic society, and outside forces. They could act as equivalents to modern public relations agents, spreading the fame of their patrons and thereby attracting popular support for them and their causes. For centuries, poets were among the learned professionals of the Gaelic world and received rigorous training in bardic colleges. The strong and deeply rooted intellectual institutions of the bardic order in Gaeldom imbued Highlanders with a deep respect, even superstitious reverence, for their learning. Like the rest of Europe, however, there was no perceived need for universal literacy until the 16th-century Reformation highlighted the importance of direct contact with scripture, rather than relying on intermediary authorities like priests. At the same time that many other European countries began to create schools in order to teach children to read and write in their own languages, the native educational centres that existed in the Gaelic world – bardic colleges in particular – were attacked and undermined by the anglophone world (both England and Lowland Scotland) for their intellectual leadership and the threat they posed in fostering resistance to colonization. The schools built later in the Highlands had the mission of assimilating Gaels and destroying their language and culture, rather than developing what had gone before. The chieftain’s hall was the focus for learned classes who provided, among other things, a sort of social demonstration of the chieftain’s fitness for rule. The following lines depict an ideal night’s entertainment in the chieftain’s hall and make allusion to the books of learned poets: Many is the blow of the bagpipes, And the sound of dice on game boards, That I heard in your home, Along with the celebration and satire of the poets Engaged in your books of historical lore With their red covers, and in songs…

Page 5

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

Poetry was an activity that permeated Gaelic life at all levels. While the clan chief might have entertained large companies of educated gentlemen on special occasions, every community had at least one céilidh house where all neighbors met regularly for their education, edification, and enjoyment through the oral tradition: Such tales as these were repeated night after night at the evening céilidhean in the olden days, interspersed with music, songs, recitations, proverbs, riddles, and innocent games, which not only helped to pass the time in a social and friendly manner, but also sharpened the intellect and understanding, and fostered a spirit of friendship and good fellowship. All classes met on equal terms, and were at liberty to criticise each other freely and kindly and give and take information on such subjects as interested them. Hence the courtesy and good breeding which had remained a natural characteristic of the Highlander to the present day.

No matter what their task, people accompanied the work of their hands with songs and with chants. Edmund Burt observed the use of Gaelic songs for harvesting in the 1720s, for example: They all keep time together, by several barbarous Tones of the Voice; and stoop and rise together as regularly as a Rank of Soldiers when they ground their Arms. Sometimes they are incited to their Work by the Sound of a Bagpipe; and by either of them they proceed with great Alacrity, it being disgraceful for anyone to be out of Time with the Sickle.

The illustration below, from the latter part of the eighteenth century, shows a group of women singing “waulking” songs as they worked the newly-made wool cloth, while two other women sing as song as they grind grain in a hand-driven quern.

The oral tradition provided a means of expression and a creative outlet for all members of the community. The songs of a community chronicled the significant people, places and events in its life, and helped to reinforce social norms and values, as poetess Mary MacKellar noted in 1886: Every little occasion called forth a few verses either in praise, or with the more dangerous power of satire. These verses might not be heard of beyond the township in which they were composed. And they were a pure and simply pleasure, and an innocent pastime.

4: Conditions in Eighteenth-Century Scotland While the central government began aggressive attempts to conquer and assimilate the Gaels in the seventeenth century, these had only partially affected the daily experience of the common Scottish Highlander. During the eighteenth century, however, practically every assumption about the world held in the Highlands was broken: the inter-dependent bonds between members of society, the security of land occupation, the role of the warrior, the attachment to place, the subsistence economy, and the relative isolation of the Highlands from the British Empire. Highland society had always been a pastoral subsistence economy. People’s loyalties were foremost to their chieftain and clan, and kinship was an overriding factor in the running of the

Page 6

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

community. Numerous families lived in clusters of houses in a communal fashion, randomly allotting interleaving lots of land for cultivation, although dairy products made up the bulk of their food. They consumed most of what they produced. As the Highland elite became increasing influenced by and integrated into the centralized British state, they began to adopt the values and practices of the English-speaking world. They now needed to generate a surplus product for export to markets outside the Highlands. This led to raising rents and forcing tenants to compete for leases of land. Even more insulting was that Lowland shepherds were often moved in to develop the sheep industry, and the beloved old cattle were moved off with the people. It was the men of the middle class — the “tacksmen” as they were called in English, or firbhaile in their native Gaelic — who were the first to respond to these social and economic destabilizations. They knew that they were, as a class, being squeezed out of existence. Beyond this, they tended to be literate in English and were used to being administrators and leaders. As they anticipated that the new regime would bring about a reduction in their quality of life, they had the greatest incentive to organize migrations that would take them and their subtenants to new lands. The Jacobite Army suffered a heavy defeat in the Highlands at Culloden on April 16, 1746, which was to be the last battle on British soil. The victorious Hanoverian army swept through the Highlands with arbitrary and malicious violence, causing Gaels to remember the year as Bliadhna nan Creach (“the Year of Pillaging”). A correspondent to the Virginia Gazette who only identified himself as “Scotius Americanus” discouraged the Scottish Highland immigrants in November 1775 from getting involved in the American Revolution by reminding them of how the English had mistreated them in Scotland: It was not to become slaves you forsook your native shores. Nothing could have buoyed you up against the prepossessions of nature and of custom but a desire to fly from tyranny and oppression. Here you found a country with open arms ready to receive you; no persecuting landlord to torment you; none of your property extracted from you to support court favourites and dependents. Under these circumstances, your virtue and your interest were equally securities for the uprightness of your conduct; yet, independent of these motives, inducements are not wanting to attach you to the cause of liberty. No people are better qualified than you to ascertain the value of freedom. They only can know its intrinsic worth who have had the misery of being deprived of it. … From the clemency of the English nation you have little to expect; from the king and his ministers still less. You and your forefathers have fatally experienced the malignant barbarity of a despotic court. … I wish, for the sake of humanity in general, and the royal family in particular, that I could throw a veil over the conduct of the duke of Cumberland after the last rebellion. The indiscriminate punishments which he held out equally to the innocent and the guilty are facts of notoriety much to be lamented. The intention may possibly in some measure excuse, though nothing can justify the barbarity of the measure.

A campaign of disarmament, military occupation, dispossession, and reorganization followed as the central government sought to destroy the possibility of independent action in the Highlands once and for all. While the Highlands were being drawn inexorably into English-speaking society for over a century, Gaels perceived a causal relation between their humiliating defeat at Culloden in 1746 and the anti-Gaelic policies to which they were subsequently subjected. These included disarming the Highlanders and proscribing their traditional uniform, the tartan, which symbolized their pride as a warrior-people. John Ramsay of Ochtertyre, writing at the beginning of the nineteenth century and well within living memory of post-Culloden changes, noted: The last rebellion [1745], however, gave occasion to memorable changes of every kind. Many chieftains lost their lives either in the field or on the scaffold, or were forced into exile, and their estates forfeited. The whole weight of the Government, for a number of years, was employed to dissolve every tie between the chief and the clan, and to abolish all distinctions between the Highland and Lowland Scots. Even the gentry who had not been engaged in the rebellion, found it expedient to drop some of

Page 7

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

their national customs, which either gave offence, or were prohibited by law … The application of so many violent and bitter remedies at the same time could not be agreeable to the Highlanders. In fact they were treated like a conquered people, whom it is necessary to keep under restraint.

As even Gaels of the lowest station in society had previously prided themselves on their connections with native nobility, the scorn of these leaders for Highland identity caused real injury to traditional culture and to perceptions of self-worth. Once the various social conventions that held Highland society became unraveled, Gaels felt profound cultural disorientation. They could no longer assume that they would remain among their kin. They now had to compete with their former neighbors and keep up with ever-rising rents, or they would be evicted. Allan MacDonald of Kingsborough, husband of the celebrated Flora MacDonald, wrote shortly before they departed for North Carolina: The only news in this island is emigration; I believe the whole will go for America — in 1771 there shipped and arrived safe in North Carolina 500 souls. In 1772 there shipped and arrived in said place 450. This year they have already signed and preparing to go, above 800 souls and all those from Skye and North Uist. It is melancholy to see the state of this miserable place; the superior summoning the tenants to remove for not paying the great rent, etc. and the tenant the superior for oppression, for breaking the condition of his tacks, and for violent profits- The factor, tenants at law, for iniquities and wrong accounts and them out of their lands in the month of May and June without previous warning — No respect of persons, as the best are mostly gone, stealing of sheep etc. constantly, and picking and thieving of corn, garden stuffs, and potatoes perpetually, lying, backbyting and slandering — Honesty entirely fled, villainy and deceit, supported by downright poverty in its place. When this next emigration is gone, only Aird and other three old men, will lease, that will be in Slate and Trotternish of the name of MacDonald.

The term “Clearance” is used to describe the forced evictions of Highlanders from their homes, leaving whole villages, straths and swathes of the country denuded of its population. Highlanders began to be evicted en-masse in the second half of the eighteenth century and Clearances eventually picked up pace, forcing people to relocate to Scotland’s urban slums or to far-off colonies. The conditions which so ravaged the Highlands were not just impersonal economic factors but deliberate decisions made by people who made no considerations for the conditions of the Gaels, as Patrick Campbell wrote in 1791: Every inhabitant has innumberable resourses of wealth furnished by nature at his door, were they permitted to make the proper use of them. But being deprived of that by the impolitic salt laws, and other oppressions, must drive them to despair, and ultimately tend to make them seek an asylum in the wilds of America.

5: The First Settlements: Georgia, New York, and the Carolinas Even before Culloden, deteriorating social and economic conditions in the Highlands made some people open to the opportunity to emigrate, and the martial prowess and hardy character of Highlanders made them model pioneers. The Trustees for Establishing the Colony of Georgia decided in 1735 to recruit a number of Highlanders as colonists in the contested southern region, especially because of their ability as soldiers who could help defend the area from Spanish and Native American attack. The establishment of the colony at Darien in 1736 was the first settlement of a community of Scottish Gaels in America. One of the reasons that those Highlanders who did come to Georgia found the offer enticing was that they could continue to live in their capacity as fighting men on the contested American frontier, whereas in Scotland the government was attempting to disarm and defuse the Highlands. Every man who came to the Georgia colony was provided firearms, a broad sword, an axe, shield, and tartan plaid.

Page 8

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

The British colonial government advertised its desire for “Protestants of all Nations and Denominations” in 1732 in order to secure its hold in the Province of New York. At the same time, between 1727 and 1737, Campbell estates in Scotland were being reorganized, the rents on these properties were being increased, and the cattle market (the primary export in the Highland economy) was falling on difficult times. Lauchlin Campbell of Islay saw the New York land grab as an opportunity to establish himself as a proprietor and businessman. He visited the province in 1737 and returned shortly thereafter with 35 families from Islay. By the year 1740 he had assisted some 93 Highland families in coming to his proposed immigrant colony, usually referred to as the “Argyll Colony.” As early as 1729, Archibald Campbell, an agent for the Argyll estate, observed that tenants in Kintyre were being inspired by their Irish neighbors to leave for America. The island of Islay came into the possession of Daniel Campbell, a Glasgow merchant and member of Parliament. It is little wonder that a man of this background would mount plans for a massive restructuring of the island with profit in mind. Rather than join into competition for leases, some of the tacksmen decided that they would rather risk their fate in America. It was this group who established the Argyll Colony in 1740 around modern Fayetteville, North Carolina. Many Highlanders in Scotland remained hesitant about departing their native shores, and their doubts were fomented by the anti-emigration propaganda of landlords wishing to keep a servile population. In time, however, the Highland immigrant community flourished, and beckoned their relations in Scotland to join them. We know, for example, that Alexander McAlester of New Troy, Cumberland County, was writing to his brother back on the isle of Arran by 1747. The Reverend Allan Macqueen, writing in the 1790s, recalled that “copies of letters from persons who had emigrated several years before to America, to their friends at home, containing the most flattering accounts of the province of North Carolina, were circulated among them. The implicit faith given to these accounts made them resolve to desert their native country, and to encounter the dangers of crossing the Atlantic to settle in the wilds of America.” It was common among all immigrant groups in America that migrants joined their relations and former neighbors in the new country. Scholars call this path pioneered by one group and followed by later people chain migration. In about 1767 a second and larger wave of migration began to flood the Cape Fear Valley with Highlanders. This group was from a larger area of Argyll, including the islands of Arran, Jura, Islay and Gigha. (Right: The grave of Hugh MacLaurin in the Stewart Cemetery, Cape Fear Valley, North Carolina.) With worsening economic conditions in the 1770s, the impulse to emigrate spread much further throughout the Highlands and Outer Hebrides. About 20% of the isle of Skye was lured away by tacksmen during this period, much to the annoyance of the landlords.

6: Wars in North America Although the Highlands in general were punished following the Jacobite Rising of 1745, this conflict had the unexpected effect of suggesting that Highlanders could be valuable assets in the British Army when the British Empire was rapidly expanding. It was not unusual for the government to spend between 75% and 85% of its budget on military enterprises during this period. Highland landlords attempted to derive benefits for themselves from this “fiscal-military state” by specializing in raising regiments. Page 9

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

For his part in the Jacobite Rising of 1745 Simon Fraser, the 11th Lord Lovat, was beheaded. His estates were forfeited to the government but his son went out of his way to demonstrate his distance from his father’s Jacobite past and recover his family heritage. When the young heir of Lovat offered his military services, the government initially refused him, but in 1757 he won the argument that he would be able to raise a regiment among his clansmen. Highlanders believed that they could gain favor with the London government by a conspicuous demonstration of their loyalty in military service. Within two months about 2,000 Highlanders were mobilized for action in the French and Indian War (called the “Seven Years’ War” in British sources), with a total of 12,000 men involved by the end of the conflict. Most Highlanders could be found in the B l a c k Wa t c h , Fr a s e r ’s H i g h l a n d e r s , a n d Montgomery’s Highlanders. Fraser’s Highlanders proved their worth in combat at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and the Battle of Sillery in Quebec. No doubt could be raised about the loyalty of Highlanders after their sacrifices, or the value of Highland regiments, after these accomplishments. Highland soldiers who had fought in the French and Indian War laid the early foundation for the later, and much larger, migrations to North America from the Highlands. Highland tacksmen were well represented among the officers of the British army and many of these men were awarded with land upon which they settled relations from home. The Reverend William Thom of Govan (near Glasgow, Scotland) declared in the pamphlet titled Information Concerning the Province of North Carolina, Addressed to Emigrants from the Highlands (1773) that God had allowed the Highland soldiers to prevail in the French and Indian War so that they could find “an agreeable and happy retreat, and a large and fertile field for them and their posterity to flourish in.” Sir William Johnson, who ran a highly successful business enterprise and multi-ethnic community in the Mohawk Valley of New York State, recognized that the Highlanders could be loyal and industrious tenants in his virtual fiefdom. At least twenty families of the veterans of the war settled as his tenants in 1763. Through the influence of this powerful statesman, Lieutenant Hugh Fraser and Lieutenant John McTavish of Fraser’s Highlanders obtained lands in upper New York State where they settled a number of their extended family. Another military man, Captain Normand MacLeod of the 80th Regiment, was given lands close to the Johnson estate where he brought relations as his tenants in 1772. Between 1770 and the beginning of the American Revolution, Scottish Gaels were pouring into America at such a rate that landlords in Scotland were afraid that the Highlands might be emptied, and thus deprive them of their supply of cheap labor and military recruits. These recent emigrants hardly had time to settle down before they were drawn into the conflicts of the American Revolution. Eighteen regiments, consisting of about 21,000 men, were raised in the Highlands to fight for the British Crown during the Revolution. The name of only one of the Loyalist poets, Iain mac Mhurchaidh (or “John MacRae” in English), is left to us. Like most of the Highlanders in North Carolina and New York, he joined Loyalist forces and his compositions were said to inspire his fellow countrymen so much that American “rebels” treated him with great severity.

Page 10

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

The rallying-cry of the Highlanders at the Battle of Moore’s Creek in North Carolina in February 1776 was said to be “King George and broadswords!” There is a tradition that a number of renegade Highlanders had joined the Scotch-Irish rebels and that before the two armies gathered for the Battle of King’s Mountain in 1780, Iain mac Mhurchaidh composed a song to try to convince his misguided countrymen of their error. His description of the punishment of traitors calls to mind the treatment of Highlanders after Culloden and produces the sense of anxiety that similar punishment could be meted out again, as see in this short excerpt from the English translation: The following is what will happen If you do not all surrender When the strongest forces arrive Of those men who are now yonder; There will be hanging and injury And your wealth will be plundered, No law or reason will be available To any Rebels at all. For as long as you have parted ways King George will be in the right…

The punishment of American colonists who had remained loyal to Britain through the American Revolution took a heavy toll on many Highland immigrant communities. The property taxes of Loyalists were increased and in 1777 the Provincial Congress passed a law banishing those who would not swear allegiance to the new republic. A colonel reported in July 1777 about North Carolina that “two-thirds of Cumberland County intend to leave this State,” most of those in flight being Highlanders. Some returned to Scotland, some went south to the Caribbean, others north to British North America. Nevertheless, many Highlanders remained in North Carolina, certainly enough to retain a distinctive community that continued to thrive and speak the old Gaelic tongue. Small migrations of Highlanders, including those resident in the Caribbean, continued to trickle into the Carolinas until the 1820s. Although most of the Gaels in Georgia appear to have sided with the American revolutionaries, oral tradition records that some of them left for Canada and so must have remained loyal to Britain. Likewise, many of the Highlanders who had resided in the Mohawk Valley in New York from Glengarry, Scotland, traveled north after the Revolutionary War to settle in and around Glengarry County, Ontario. They were joined by a band of Loyalist refugees from North Carolina that included the Reverend John Bethune. After a brief stay in Montreal, Bethune settled at Williamstown and organized the first Presbyterian church in Upper Canada.

7: Destination Canada Scottish Highlanders established settlements in the east of Canada during the 1770s and 1780s that were to become the last bastions of Gaelic culture in North America. Some of these settlers had fled from the newly formed United States, while others came directly from Scotland. After the American Revolution, most emigration from the Scottish Highlands was redirected to British North America (now Canada), which continued to attract the majority of Highland emigrants into the mid 1800s. By the late 1800s the majority of Gaelic-speaking immigrants to Page 11

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

the United States either came from Scotland via Canada or were born in Gaelic-speaking Canadian communities. A Highland community was set in place in Prince Edward Island after John MacDonald, the laird of Glenaladale, brought 250 of his followers to his 20,000-acre estate in 1772. The first few years were quite difficult, however, between poor provisions, a plague of mice, and agricultural shortcomings. Thomas Douglas, Earl of Selkirk, developed a better settlement and economic scheme on the island and he brought about 800 Highlanders with him from Argyll, Ross, Skye and Uist in 1803. The community was soon flourishing. Men who had fought for the Crown in the 1st Battalion Royal Highland Emigrants were rewarded with land in Ontario in 1783 for their loyalty during the American Revolutionary War. Despite the initial challenges of domesticating the landscape, they were successful enough to entice their relations in Scotland to join them. Further waves of immigrants, mostly war veterans, followed in 1785, 1791 and 1803. Many veterans of the American Revolution also settled in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick after the end of the war, some of them Scottish Gaels. The ship Hector (replica on right) arrived in Pictou, Nova Scotia, in 1773, carrying some 189 people who established a Highland community. Migration directly to Cape Breton Island began in 1802, and it soon became the favored destination for both Catholic and Protestant Highlanders. Parts of eastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton became solidly Gaelic in composition, so much so that even English merchants learnt Gaelic in order to conduct business. Many other large settlements of Scottish Highlanders were established in Canada during the nineteenth century, some of them in isolated parts of the country. This allowed for Gaelic language and customs to survive for longer than they did in areas in the United States that were more closely integrated with English-speaking populations via economic, educational, and civic institutions. Highlanders in Scotland were often aware of and curious about their kin, and sought to discover how they and their descendants fared in North America. One such recorded the effects of chain migration to Canada in 1883: Some years ago, while trying to find out the locations of our kindred and country people, I wrote to the immigration agent in T[oronto], himself a West Highlander, who informed me “that Argyle men are to be found generally all over the Province of Ontario, and Cantyreans, in particular, in the counties of Victoria, Wellington, Middlesex, Elgin, &c.” There is one district on the shores of Lake Erie where you can see on the map such familiar names as Iona, Largie, Clachan, &c.. There, I believe, as well as where the winds of the mighty sea of Huron cool the western counties of Bruce, Huron, and Lambton, dwell and prosper in a fertile region, and a wholesome climate, many of the sons and daughters and later prosperity of the friends and neighbours of our fathers’ and mothers’ early days.

Other travelers, however, simply noted that the Highland settlers brought Gaelic with them, and that the language was the life-blood of the community, as this commentator affirms in 1902: The outflow of the purely Gaelic-speaking people to the Colonies was large, and continues – to Canada and Australia chiefly. In Canada today there are many large settlements where Gaelic is still spoken and preached – in Glengarry, out toward the Lake Megantic region, Winslow, Stornoway, Scotstown, Oro in Simcoe county, along the shores of the Bras D’Or Lakes in Cape Breton, and other parts of the Maritime Provinces.

Scottish Highlanders played a key role in the development of Canada through their participation of the fur trade. The fur trade stimulated the exploration of Canada, the building of an economic infrastructure, and the settling of key transport routes. Soldiers who came during the French and Indian War and settled in America were among the first Highlanders to get involved

Page 12

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

in the fur trade. As a people who were already multilingual by necessity, Gaels tended to pick up the necessary languages – English, French, and Native American languages – quickly. They were adept in the harsh, cold environments, and could work within kin systems to their advantage. As the commercial center of the fur trade, Montreal attracted ambitious Highlanders. Gaelic initiative in the business took a giant step forward with the founding of the North West Company in Montreal in 1783. Simon McTavish, one of the founders of the North West Company, had been born in 1750 in the Highlands. He came to the colonies at the age of thirteen to work in Albany after his father, a lieutenant in Fraser’s Highlanders, settled in New York at the end of the French and Indian War. The coat of arms of the North West Company display a canoe in the top panel and the old Highland galley in the bottom, symbolizing how the fur trade allowed Highlanders to take the mantle of leadership once again. Many of these Highland fur traders were very colorful characters. Big Finnan MacDonald was born in Knoydart, Scotland, in 1772, but came to Glengarry, Ontario, as a boy. He joined the North West Company in 1804. In 1827, while on an expedition near the Saskatchewan River, he wrestled a buffalo for three hours, trying to provide his company with fresh meat. Intrepid Gaelic explorers gathered the navigational information necessary for the exploitation of Canadian territory and left their names on the map. Alexander MacKenzie, born in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, in 1764, came with his father to New York, where he eventually fought as a Loyalist during the American Revolution. Alexander found his way from Lake Athasbasca to the Arctic Ocean in 1789, and in 1793 became the first European to reach the Pacific by a northern land route. Although some Highlanders had very equitable relationships with Native Americans, the development of the fur trade sounded the death knell for Native America as European civilization infiltrated its land and claimed its resources.

8: Life in the Big City Emigration was an established pattern in Highland life well into the twentieth century. As Highlanders became literate, emigration agents created advertisements in Gaelic periodicals to entice potential emigrants to North America. As the nineteenth century advanced, Highland immigrants to the United States went to the areas of greatest economic growth. Cities such as Chicago, New York, Detroit, Toronto, Duluth, and Boston had large Gaelic populations, as did the western frontier. Some of these exiles found fellow Highlanders and attempted to keep alive those traditions from the Highlands that were meaningful to them. A journalist for The Scottish-American Journal reported in 1897 that Ms. Liddell of Long Island, New York, kept a céilidh in true Highland fashion, as she was “well versed in the folk lore and songs of her native island, South Uist.” A similar céilidh was noted in 1904: One of those delightfully pleasant surprises gotten up by the personal friends of Mr Roderick Martin, the secretary of the [New York] Scottish Gaelic Society, took place at his home, 212 St. Nicholas Ave, last Friday evening. They took his home by storm, marching in with Gaelic songs, which were continued throughout the night with dances and recitations — indeed, were it not for the sound of the Elevated Railway some distance off one would surely have imagined that he was once more amid the heather covered hills of old Scotland …

Page 13

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

There were so many immigrants in New York from the (solidly Gaelic-speaking) island of Lewis alone that the exiles formed the Lewis Society of New York in 1909. A Lewis Society was formed in Duluth, Minnesota in 1911 and another in Detroit, Michigan, at about the same time. At a single meeting in 1910 the New York Scottish Celtic Society reported that they had received 13 applications for membership, all from Gaelic-speaking Highlanders. Urbanites made significant contributions to Scottish scholarship and culture during this period. George Black, a scholar who worked at the New York Public Library, published his massive volume The Surnames of Scotland in 1946, a work still unsurpassed for its breadth and depth of research. He also contributed articles about linguistics and literature to American periodicals, “in the hope of stirring up interest in the Gaelic language.” Gaels joined the many settlers moving into the west as fur traders, gold miners, explorers and pioneers. There was a sizable community of Gaelic-speakers in San Francisco, for example, although some of them felt rather isolated there. An immigrant who hailed originally from Cape Breton wrote to the Gaelic newspaper MacTalla in 1904: Neither do I have much of a chance to speak Gaelic. Now and then Donald MacFarlane (the son of Big John from Baddeck and a thorough Highlander) and I meet up and that’s when the Englishspeakers hear the sweet musical language that will never ever die: that is to say, if the descendants of our ancestors are as loyal to it as they ought to be.

Scottish Gael Malcolm Macleod and Irish Gael John McGroarty founded the Celtic Club of Los Angeles in 1905, claiming to be the first pan-Celtic organization in the world. They welcomed Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Cornish, Manx and Breton members, and one of their first guests was Gaelic scholar and first President of Ireland Douglas Hyde. One of the most active centers of Gaelic activities in the United States during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries was New York City. Not only were there two societies which fostered the language, there were also numerous events at which Gaelic song and music was featured. Madame Annie Grey, the “Scottish Troubadour,” did a lecture and concert tour in 1898, singing old Scottish songs (including Gaelic songs), accompanied by a Highland harp. It was particularly the 1901 tour of Ms. Jessie Maclachlan (a native of Mull, Scotland) that made Gaelic song on the American stage popular. She went on international singing tours for several years thereafter, and odes to her appeared in American newspapers. The way must have been paved for her by Gaelic singers already resident in America, however, for in 1901 a New York writer claimed that “it is not an uncommon thing now-a-days to hear an American-born vocalist sing a Gaelic song in the parlours of the rich and fashionable, as well as in public halls.” At about the same time, Miss Amy Murray of New York was performing Lowland and Highland song all over New England and the Canadian Maritimes. By 1904 she was singing Gaelic songs accompanied by a harp, and went in 1905 to the island of Eriskay to make a very valuable collection of Gaelic songs. It was not just art music adaptations of traditional Gaelic songs that made their way to the concert halls of the big cities. Even the old style “waulking” songs were performed on the stage in New York in 1906:

Page 14

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

The platform was converted into a Highland cottage, in which was gathered a bevy of sonsie matrons and bonnie lassies, all dressed for the work of helping in the “waulking,” accompanying themselves with Gaelic songs, Orain Luadhaidh, to the swing of the cloth as it was passed from one to another in unison with the song.

Exiled Gaels in the cities of North America also understood that they had the ability to promote the interests of their countrymen still in Scotland. The Scottish Land League of America was formed in Chicago in 1885 to raise funds for the support of the Highlanders in Scotland and to pressure the British government to grant them land rights. The Caledonian Society of New York similarly made public statements supporting the movement for Highlanders’ land rights in 1887, and raised money to secure legal assistance in Scottish courts. Shortly after the successful establishment of a Chair of Celtic Studies in Edinburgh in 1882, which was able to draw financial support from Highlanders in North America, Canadians campaigned for Gaelic to be developed as an academic field of study in North America, appealing to immigrant Highlanders for this cause: Not satisfied, therefore, that the Highlander should be known merely for his fine athletic powers, for his skill in the national games, and as the finest fighting animal that the world has ever seen, some patriotic Gaels of our number believing that the Highlander to be as rugged and massive in his intellect as he is in his limbs, believing also that these qualities inhere in his language and are enshrined in his literature, have established prizes, scholarships, and lectureships for the encouragement of the Gaelic language in connection with several colleges and universities in the Dominion [of Canada]. I, however, belong to a group of admirers of our ancient literature who think that the higher ground should be taken in this matter. We believe that the time has fully come when the Gaelic language should find a recognized place in the circle of the learned studies of a university, and when, instead of lectureships established for shorter or longer periods with slender remuneration, giving no encouragement to thorough research, there should be funded, well-endowed, and permanent professorships which would put the Celtic languages in a position to be investigated with the thoroughness and comprehensiveness of treatment accorded to other branches of world literature … Why should not the new and larger Scotland on this side of the Atlantic, whose children with their unmistakably Celtic names stand in the first ranks of scholarship, literature, commerce, and statesmanship, with their race-inherited faculty of pushing to the front, do for Gaelic, and do more generously, and with prompter action, what has already been done in the old land?

Unfortunately, this drive did not achieve its aims and Gaelic took much longer to enjoy any place in education in America. Gaelic was first taught at St. Francis Xavier University (Antigonish, Nova Scotia) in 1891, but support was inconsistent until the Celtic Department was formed in 1958. Gaelic was first offered as a subject for non-native speakers in the United States by the Department of Celtic Languages and Literatures of Harvard University in 1971 under the direction of Charles Dunn. There is still no department of Scottish Studies in the many universities of the United States, nor are there departments offering courses to students interested in pursuing the study of Gaelic language and history.

9: Creating a Gaelic-American Identity How could Highland immigrants maintain a distinctive identity in their new adopted homes and continue to develop their culture? There were several possible means of doing this, including establishing churches, social clubs, periodicals, educational institutes, and exclusive communities. The first Scottish societies to be formed in North America offered assistance to Scottish immigrants: the Scots’ Charitable Society of Boston (1657), the St. Andrew’s Club of Charleston, South Carolina (1729), the St. Andrew’s Society of Hanover County, Virginia (1738), the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia (1749), and so on. It took some time, however, for societies to be formed that addressed the specific language, culture, and needs of Highland immigrants. Following the lead of the Highland Societies of

Page 15

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

London and Edinburgh, Scottish Gaelic immigrants established Highland Societies of their own in North America. The Highland Society of Canada was formed at St. Raphael’s, Glengarry, Ontario in 1818 “to resume the Garb and language of their ancestors and to introduce the songs of the Bards and the music of the Minstrels which had always distinguished and bestowed a peculiar character on the convivial meetings of Highlanders.” An observer in 1882 noted with satisfaction: During the past quarter of a century the old benevolent associations of the country— such as the Scots’ Charitable Society of Boston, or the New York St. Andrew’s Society— have largely increased their rolls of membership, and amount of their income; a chain of Caledonian Clubs, or Societies, extend over the United States and Canada; Burns’ Clubs exist everywhere; and there are innumerable Gaelic, Thistle, Scotia, and similar clubs. Curling has been almost as an American game, while all over the country we find old Scottish sports, quoiting, hammer-throwing, and the like, being played with as much eagerness as they used to be on every village haugh in the Old Country.

Gaelic societies in places such as Toronto, Toledo, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Hamilton, Guelph, Vancouver, Washington D.C., and Boston gave Highlanders a chance to meet one another and share their common language and traditions. One of the most active was the Scottish Gaelic Society of New York, which was formed in 1894 by disgruntled members of the Scottish Celtic Society of New York who felt that the organization was not supporting the Gaelic language as it had promised to do. Besides its monthly meetings, which featured lectures, music, song and dance, it held monthly Gaelic literacy classes, frequent concerts, an annual picnic and Highland Games, and an annual ball. One member, Mrs. J. B. Campbell, boasted in 1903: In all the Highland societies in which I am personally interested and others of which I read (and they are numerous) I find that the great object is not only to have Gaelic-speaking presidents but as many Gaelicspeaking members as they can possibly get. In one society, of which I am a life member, the entire business is conducted in Gaelic, and any one speaking one word of English during business hours is fined one shilling. … All these, and many other instances, go to prove that the good old Gaelic is being revived, and appreciated more than it has been in nearly a century past.

This optimistic appraisal did not last long, as Mrs. Campbell lamented only two years later: As a Highlander of Highlanders, loving the old Celtic language with all my heart, I regret that so little of it is spoken in the Scottish societies of this city. Our energetic friends, the Irish Celts, are far ahead of us in the cultivation of their ancient language, and take great pride in it. Why should Highland Scots, who are generally in the front rank of every enterprise, be leagues behind in their mother tongue? The Gaelic language is the oldest of all our Scottish traditions, and should for that reason, if for no other, be cultivated.

A London observer in 1898 complained of the general ineffectiveness of Gaelic societies: Without a doubt, the current state of Gaelic is a cause for shame, and likewise for the Gaelic Societies and the Gaels everywhere. There are many Gaelic Societies distributed around the world, and yet, what use have they ever been to Gaelic? Indeed, it is the truth that they have done much damage to it. Seldom is the musical sound of Gaelic heard at their meetings, and if they issue any reports, they are printed in English. That is not the way to keep Gaelic healthy. It is the responsibility of every Gaelic Society member to do everything in his power in order to spread the knowledge of Gaelic far and wide, but it seems that the majority of people are so eager to fawn over the nobility that poor Gaelic is the last thing that they think about.

Religion dominated the earliest Gaelic books to be published in North America. The first Gaelic text composed and printed was a booklet of sermons printed in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1791 by the Reverend Dugald Crawford, a native of the isle of Arran who came to preach to the Scots of the upper Cape Fear Valley after 1781. In 1786, Rev. James MacGregor

Page 16

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

became the first Gaelic-speaking Protestant minister in Nova Scotia. His book of original Gaelic religious poetry (set to secular tunes) was published in Glasgow in 1819 and was popular in Nova Scotia as well as Scotland. Religious texts continued to be printed into the early 20th century, and by the 1830s secular texts – especially those about Gaelic poetry and literature – began to appear in Canada (there was virtually no further Gaelic publishing activity in the United States). Highlanders remarked on the lack of a Gaelic-medium newspaper in North America, and its importance to the development of the Gaelic language. Neil MacNeil Brodie, a Scottish minister resident in Halifax, interested in the widespread distribution of Gaels across Canada, compared their literary circumstances unfavorably with other immigrants in 1883: There is also a considerable admixture of French, Germans, and a few Indians, all of whom, to a certain extent, still retain the use of their own language. The Germans especially have their own papers printed in some of the towns, and circulated among themselves. But I am sorry to say there is no Gaelic publication in Canada, nor yet in America, not even a religious paper for the church or Sabbath school, although there are thousands of Gaelic-speaking people, and many congregations.

Scottish Gaels resident in the United States subscribed to Gaelic periodicals made in Scotland and Canada, but no Gaelic periodicals were ever printed in the United States. Although several all-Gaelic periodicals, or Gaelic columns within English newspapers, had appeared previously in Canada (particularly Ontario and Nova Scotia), MacTalla, based in Cape Breton, was the longest-lived and most ambitious of Canadian-Gaelic periodicals. It began in May 1892 and had a readership throughout Scotland, Canada and the western and northern United States. Mac-Talla played a central role in the cultural life of Gaeldom in North America until it shut down in 1904. All materials, whether letters, news, advertisements, fiction, or poetry, were written in the medium of Gaelic. Mac-Talla coined and broadcast Gaelic neologisms, encouraged the collection of traditional folklore, voiced ideas about linguistic revitalization, and gave literate Gaels (particularly in Canada, which Scottish Gaels might have perceived as distant and provincial) a medium of expression they otherwise did not have. There are numerous examples to attest that the first generation of Highland immigrants perceived a strong correlation between mother tongue and ethnic identity. Some Gaels did aspire to create periodicals, events, and organizations in North America in which Gaelic was a prominent feature, but they overrated the significance of what they did accomplish, as the previous absence of Gaelic in formal institutions in Scotland made any usage appear momentous. They seemed to have underestimated the difficulties in creating the means to maintain Gaelic as a living language to be used by native-speaking immigrants and their American-born children, as the disappearance of the language demonstrates. There were other ways in which people symbolically asserted their ethnic origins, regardless of whether they retained or understood the language and culture of their ancestors. The Gaelic Revival of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries inspired the use of the “Celtic Cross” on gravestones throughout the British Isles and North America. Although this was primarily an Irish fashion, some Scottish Gaelic immigrants adopted it as well. Rarer, but more distinctively Scottish, was the revival of the West Highland art style, as we see here in a cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Page 17

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

10: Language and Oral Tradition in North America Highland immigrants ran into language and identity problems as soon as they came to America: their very names were mangled by people who could neither speak nor write Gaelic. MacAoidh could become distorted as “MacKay,” “MacKey,” “MacCoy,” “MacGee;” MacDhomhnaill as “MacDonald,” “MacDonell,” “MacConnell,” “MacDaniel,” and so on. Sometimes, in an effort to distance themselves from their Gaelic roots and assimilate silently into Anglophone America, Highland immigrants removed the “Mac-“ from the beginning of their names. Of all of the aspects of their identity as Highlanders, most fundamental was their language. It was through Gaelic that they expressed their experiences as a community and as individuals, and had access to centuries of oral tradition in the form of song, poetry, legend, folktale, genealogy, and so on, which embodied their collective past as a people. The vast majority of the early emigrants spoke only Gaelic, although the upper ranks of Highland society were typically also fluent in English. Settlement in isolated and self-sufficient communities allowed Gaelic to flourish. Some of the immigrant communities, in fact, preserved aspects of Highland culture that were later lost in Scotland itself. An account of Prince Edward Island in 1828 claims: I have observed, that wherever the Highlanders form distinct settlements, their habits, their system of husbandry, disregard for comfort in their houses, their ancient hospitable customs and their language, undergo no sensible change. They frequently pass their winter evenings reciting traditionary poems, in Gaelic, which have been transmitted to them by their forefathers; and I have known many who might with more propriety be called genuine counterparts of the Highlanders who fought at Culloden, than can now, from the changes which have during the last fifty years taken place, be found in any part of Scotland.

A Scottish traveler in Cornwall, Ontario, in 1879 commented that it was the most Highland place I have been in yet. The second and third generation speak Gaelic; but the young who are now growing are not likely to know any. Almost everyone I have seen is of Knoydart stock. Nearly all are MacDonalds … All of these, and Mr George MacDonald, the post-master, speak Gaelic, as they do all over Glengarry, with the most perfect accent, and with scarcely any, if any, admixture of English. Indeed, I have no hesitation in saying that the Gaelic of this Glengarry is much better than that of the old Glengarry.

Alexander Fraser reported in 1903 that there were an estimated 250,000 people in Canada who spoke Gaelic. While they lasted, Gaelic societies and newspapers provided a forum for aspiring authors of Gaelic literature. Archibald McKillop, a native of Gaelic-speaking Quebec, was the bard of the Montreal Gaelic Society. The beginning of an ode to the society that he delivered in 1883 reads, in translation: In the city of the royal mound, the Gaels are devoted, Doing their utmost, with copious knowledge, To reading, writing, and speaking the tongue Which was spoken in Eden: the Gaelic. O you teachers of English, be quiet all of you! The Society has risen in this northern land The handsome Ossianic Society, teaching Gaelic, It is the true Highland people who keep it alive.

The Scottish Gaelic Society of New York had an official poet who delivered occasional odes in Gaelic. While there is a small number of Gaelic authors and poets known to have been active in the United States, Canada can boast of many more in its large immigrant communities. A recent survey found 170 Gaelic poets from Nova Scotia whose works have survived, and even more composed verse that was not recorded.

Page 18

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

There are occasional references to the resilience of Gaelic in North America, such as the following comment from 1885: Highlanders are quite as unwilling to give up their native speech as to abandon their homes. An American friend of mine has two maid-servants who always talk to one another in Gaelic, although their great-grandfathers emigrated from Scotland to the United States about a century ago.

Only in exceptional cases, however, was Gaelic able to thrive for any span of time. When they arrived in America, Highlanders had already been conditioned to believe that their language was inferior to English. This contrasts them with other immigrant groups, such as the French and Germans, whose languages are still to be heard in the United States. A Scottish observer noted in 1881: I have often noticed that many Scotch men and women in America seem to be ashamed of speaking their mother tongue, even in the company of one another; and on the part of very many Scotch families they seem to look down upon it as something inferior and impolite. This is all wrong.

Being forced out of Scotland only reinforced their low self-esteem and sense of powerlessness, and the absence of formal institutions to support Gaelic in America left the language defenseless and undeveloped. Even in the once strongly Highland community of the Cape Fear Valley, Gaelic was in terminal decline at the end of the American Civil War. In response to a query about the Gaelic settlements in the Carolinas, the Rev. J. C. Sinclair wrote in 1872: The old race is gone and their descendants have given up, in a great degree, the customs and manners of the old Gaels. The ancient Celtic language is nearly dead, except with the few families who arrived within the last thirty years. … There is no Gaelic preached in the Carolinas now, and not likely to be in the future.

In an epic poem about his migration from Scotland across the United States to Illinois c. 1836, William Fraser contrasts his old life in the Highlands, and its social norms, with his new life in America. He remarks, with disappointment, that many of his fellow immigrants from Scotland were keen to assimilate to English-speaking society and leave their Highland identities behind them: Some of the Scots in this country Have completely rejected every fine custom That followed their ancestors for generations; They have no interest in sustaining them But like the Gentiles around them, Grow cold-hearted with their wealth, And refuse to speak Gaelic, disparaging it, Even though they were sustained by it in their youth.

A correspondent to Mac-Talla likewise observed in 1903 that despite the material success of the immigrant communities in the greater Boston area, they did not show sufficient interest in maintaining their ancestral language: The descendants of Gaels are plentiful in this place, but most of them don’t have any great love for the Gaelic language. They are not supporting the only newspaper that we have. Things were different once – there was a time when the Gaels were totally faithful to their language and to one another.

Once the isolation of Highland communities was broken, Gaelic was replaced by English, which had the support of the official institutions of the state, especially schools and churches. This shift was noticed in Glengarry by an observer in 1884: During the lifetime of the first immigrants the Gaelic language was much in use, so much that a knowledge of it was considered a necessary qualification for the Presbyterian pulpit. The common school, however, has brought the new generation to use the English tongue, and a Gaelic sermon is now rarely heard, though in some isolated sections the Gaelic language is in some measure of use.

Page 19

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

As Highlanders and the descendants of Highlanders lost their native tongue and adopted English, they lost the ability to understand key cultural landmarks, particularly in oral tradition, which had served so long as the basis of Highland identity. They instead were reoriented according to the values and reference points of Anglophone culture. There was also an element of conscious decision-making in this, however. Gaelic language and culture had long been belittled, but certain symbols of Scottish identity derived from Gaelic culture — such as tartan, kilts, bagpipes, and Highland Games — had become acceptable, even fashionable. Immigrants could still cling on to these symbols at ritual times and events and maintain some link with Scottishness, even if they embraced Anglo-American culture in their daily lives and allowed their own language and culture to disappear.

11: Highlandism and Imaginative Literature The Gaelic language and culture have been for centuries regarded by the people of the Lowlands of Scotland as being associated with barbarism and lawlessness. While Highlanders were sometimes valued for their hardiness and prowess as warriors when Lowlanders could exploit them, they could just as easily be demonized as the source of rebellion and chaos in an otherwise “civilized” English-speaking polity. These tensions came to a head with the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Gaels formed the core of the army supporting the exiled claimant to the British throne, Charles Edward Stewart, because the mass of common Highlanders believed that the persecution to which they were subjected would cease if he became king. England, as well as parts of the Scottish Lowlands, were terrified at the prospects of being conquered and ruled by Charles and his “mob” of ruffians. The Rising was put down at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746. In order to break the martial spirit of the Highlanders, the government outlawed the wearing of kilt and tartan by civilian males. Soon the Highlands were being transformed into commercial estates, and the native Highlanders were being removed to coastlines, Lowland cities, and overseas colonies. A people can be more easily praised and romanticized once they no longer pose a threat. The inferior savages who threaten law and order at the height of their power are often transformed into a “noble race” once they and their culture are effectively subjugated. This transformation of the conquered Highland barbarians into noble savages, and the once terrifying Highland landscape into heroic backdrop, was begun in earnest by a Highlander, James Macpherson. His first book, Fragments of Ancient Poetry, collected in the Highlands of Scotland, which appeared in June of 1760, excited both Europe and America and won the accolade of men such as Napoleon and Thomas Jefferson. It was followed by several more books as his popularity grew, which were claimed by Macpherson to be translations into English of the poetry of the ancient bard Ossian. While Macpherson did draw upon genuine Gaelic oral tradition known to him from his youth in the Highlands, he wrote according to the aesthetics and expectations of his English-speaking audience and used considerable creativity in reshaping his texts. His writing reflected the growing backlash against rationality, the increased appeal to the emotions, and the fascination for antiquarianism that was characteristic of contemporary Englishspeaking society. Macpherson’s Ossian was highly influential in the first stirrings of romanticism. This pseudo-Gaelic literature, however, created an image of Highland culture as misleading as it was popular.

Page 20

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

The successful exploitation of Highlanders in the British army helped to redeem their reputation in the eyes of anglophones. The kilt became associated with the loyal and brave deeds of the Highland regiments, who were seen as the Imperial offspring of the clans of old. The Scottish upper classes, looking for ornamentation that would differentiate themselves from the other members of the British upper class, latched on to tartan. Jacobitism no longer a threat, tartan provided color and decoration at the same time that industrialization and mass-produced goods were homogenizing British society. Tartan truly became a Scottish fetish and fashion, however, when King George IV, the first British monarch to visit Scotland since 1651, came to visit Edinburgh in 1822. Sir Walter Scott decided that the event should be a colorful spectacle featuring Highland dress, Highland clans, and Highland chieftains. The king himself was fitted with kilt, bonnet, and tartan jacket. Decorating with the most distinctive images from the Highlands in an exaggerated way so as to invoke a glorious and romantic past – Highlandism and tartanism – created symbols and images that were distinctively Scottish. This new national mythology created a space in the collective past for the “primitive” Highlands at the same time that it accepted the values and institutions of modern England as part of a common British Empire. Those who had participated in and benefited from the brutal dismantling of Highland society, moreover, might free themselves of that guilt by adopting Highland symbols and identifying themselves with them. Merchants created a new marketing strategy by a creating a distinct tartan for each clan. The Romantic Movement, especially via the novels of Sir Walter Scott, was able to “salvage” certain elements of Highland tradition in the imagination of the public. Highlanders, like the First Nations of America, however, were only allowed to live proudly and independently on the printed page. While they might be idealized as “noble” in fiction, their language and culture were in fact the victims of a policy of institutionalized Anglicization. It was little recompense that they could be heroes and heroines in literature when their language and culture were in reality marginalized. Highlandism undermined the cause of Gaelic culture by tokenizing and commoditizing it. The influence of Sir Walter Scott in the United States, and especially in the American South, from his own time to our own cannot be overstated. His imaginative repackaging of Highland heritage inspired people to give their pets, their children, their homes, and their plantations, Scottish names that appeared in his works. It is particularly due to his popularity that the desire to claim a Scottish, and especially Highland, heritage continued in the southern states despite the fact that the cultural core of these immigrant communities was rapidly declining at the very same time. Southern writers employed Scott’s formula for historical fiction to create some of their own idealized depictions of the chivalric South. This literature also provided a precedent that Anglo-America could apply to Native America. Just as heroic, defeated figures of the Gaelic past were turned into literary characters for public consumption, American writers found ways to romanticize Native America and expunge their guilt by writing fiction about Indian chiefs and tribes, and their inevitable extinction. Some Highlanders fought against the trivialization of Gaelic language and culture, and argued that Highland societies needed to do more than simply dress up in kilts and tartan. A Highlander living in New York criticized the organizations there in 1894 for their neglect of Gaelic: A Highlander arrayed in the garb of his country is a gorgeous sight, but without Gaelic wearing kilts and dirks makes him a laughing stock. If we abandon our love for Gaelic, it won’t take long before we see the end of the history of our people.

The Scottish Gaelic Society of New York was guilty of lapsing into Highlandism when promoting itself to the public, such as during their annual fund-raising event. Cashing in on the popularity of the stage-Scotsman Harry Lauder, they made him an honorary member and had

Page 21

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

him perform as their feature attraction in 1908, and several times thereafter. Although they offered some Gaelic material at many of their public events, it seems to have been increasingly upstaged by songs in Scots and the standard formulae of tartanism. As all of the different elements of Scotland began to be fused into a single ersatz image, people began confusing the distinctive aspects of Highland and Lowland tradition. The Lowland poet Robert Burns became a cult figure in Scotland and America in the nineteenth century, and only assertive voices attempted to explain that he was not representative of Highland poetry or tradition, as did this Gaelic-American correspondent in 1911: The Burns craze, strange to say, has never caught on to the Highlands, despite the Celtic sympathies of the bard. Except in some of the Highland towns, like Oban, Fort William, and Inverness, where Burns Clubs have been established by aliens, the native population never thinks of the 25th of January. The Gael is not even elated with the attempts to make Burns a Gael. The poet’s works are not familiar to the native Gael who does not know the Doric, and so he does not effect to drink to the “Immortal Memory.”

Some Scots have responded very strongly to what they feel is the tokenization of their culture and history. Bill MacAskill remarks in a newspaper serving the Scottish Highlands, in the wake of a massive “Tartan Day” celebration in New York, 2002: The irony of it all is the aping of our true history with the kilt and bagpipes froth of today. However, a visit to any of the larger North American Highland Games shows a culture which is now entirely their own. The symbols are recognisable but the beliefs are based on myth. But they are happy with it and fiercely proud of their perceived heritage, and why not? Similarly we cannot complain if these mythical symbols of tartan, bagpipes, shortbread and the kilt are hijacked by the marketing men to create jobs for our people. We know the real history.

12: Race: How “white” were Highlanders? The term “race” initially meant “the descendants of a common ancestor.” The Oxford English Dictionary identifies 1774 as the year when “race” began to refer to physically distinct divisions of humankind, yet, by the early nineteenth century, the ideology of racism had emerged as a fully developed worldview in North America consisting of five interrelated tenets. (1) Races are biologically distinct from one another (the “scientific” rationale). (2) These distinct races are at different levels of the evolutionary scheme so that they have a fixed relationship of inferiority and superiority to one another (the social reality of slavery and imperialism). (3) Physical characteristics are directly related to mental and moral qualities, so that appearance is simply an indicator for a greater set of characteristics. (4) All of these racial characteristics are genetically pre-ordained and inherited. (5) These racial differences are fixed and can never be altered (hence the practice of racial segregation). Race, then, is a powerful, all-encompassing worldview used as a mechanism for social control so that a ruling elite can maintain their status and privilege by excluding subordinate groups and assigning blame and submission to them. From the eighteenth century to the present belief in the existence of “race” has seldom been questioned. What has been up for debate, however, is the definition of racial categories, and where the boundaries are. The fact that racial groupings have continually shifted during the last three centuries demonstrates that “race” is a social construct, not a physical or biological reality. By the late eighteenth century, writers in the Scottish Lowlands were actively formulating racialist interpretations of Scottish history. John Pinkerton’s book A Dissertation on the Origin and Progress of the Scythians or Goths (1787) claimed that even at the time that he wrote the Celts were

Page 22

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

not yet advanced even to the state of barbarism … For the Celts were so inferior a people, being to the Scythians as a negro to a European, that, as all history shows, to see them was to conquer them … It is clear that the manners of the Celts perfectly resembled those of the present Hottentots.

On the whole, Lowland Scots identified themselves with the English, asserting a common Germanic heritage, and declined to identify with the Gaels. Many Scots, both Highlanders and Lowlanders, took an active part in the Empire and often outdid their English counterparts in overcoming their sense of inferiority. Old stereotypes and prejudices against the Gaels, however, were latently present and exploited when “Anglo-Saxon” superiority had to be asserted. Highlanders joining the general ranks of the British military in the eighteenth century had to deal with such attitudes, as Major John MacDonald recorded in his journal: Every one had tolerable quarters but the poor Highlanders, treating the serjeants and corporals was not sufficient to save them from being insulted and abused. The worst and most ignominious names was the common manner of addressing them, such as Highland savages, negroes, yahoos, &c, from the Adjutant to the meanest and most blackguard drummer, this was the usage in that regiment at that time… when I came I found a Munro from the parish of Creich, a room mate, at this room door, bleeding from the mouth and nose, and I asking him how that happened, was answered that Hamilton had fallen on him without any provocation. I then asked Hamilton how he came to abuse the poor fellow so. This was answered, with an oath, that he would use every Highland negro in the house in the same manner.

Racial categories in North America tended to be polarized in terms of black and white during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Even so, there is evidence that some English colonists did not consider Gaels to be “white” in the eighteenth century. When commenting on the British forces that fought the Spanish in Georgia in 1742, James Oglethorpe wrote, “The white people, Indians, and the Highlanders all had their share in the Slaughter.” This list implies that Highlanders did not resemble English people closely enough to share their distinction as “white people.” Anti-Gaelic and anti-Celtic prejudices followed the Highlanders into America. Racial categorization varied according to contexts and circumstances, but there are clear references to the inferior racial status of Highland immigrants. In the same way that Lowlanders claimed to belong to the same racial group as the English and distanced themselves from their Highland relations, the descendants of Ulster protestant immigrants also denied Celtic origins. It was exactly for this reason of racial distancing that the term “Scotch-Irish” gained popularity in America. John Dinsmore asserts in The Scotch-Irish in America (1906): Now, who were, and who are the Scotch-Irish? The common notion is that they are a mongrel breed, partly Scotch and partly Irish; that is, the progeny of a cross between the ancient Scot and the ancient Celt or Kelt. This is an entire mistake. Whatever blood may be in the veins of the genuine ScotchIrishman, one thing is certain, and that is that there is not mingled with it one drop of the blood of the old Irish or Kelt. From time immemorial these two races have been hostile, and much of the time bitterly so .… The Lowland Scotch, however, were of a quite different stock. They were of Teutonic or Anglo-Saxon origin, and were separated from their neighbors on either side by race, language, religion, and personal traits.

This text assumes that there are essential and timeless differences between the Highlander and Lowlander grounded in race and reflected in a wide variety of characteristics. The historical truth, of course, is that both peoples had common origins but had developed in separate directions. Rather than describing ancient divisions, this text reflects the tensions between ethnic groups in late-nineteenth century America. The simple division of black and white in the United States broke down into a wide spectrum of ethnic categories during the mid-nineteenth century due to the massive in-migration of a variety of ethnic groups. The concept of “whiteness” was redefined, however, as ethnic groups which were not considered truly “white” in the nineteenth century – Jews, Italians, Irish, and Slavs, just to name a few – attained “whiteness” in the mid-twentieth century.

Page 23

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

The Gaels occupied a rather marginal place on the conceptual map of civilized people in North America and Britain into the early twentieth century. “Whiteness” in American political terms implied “fitness for self-government.” In other words, being recognized as white was a sanction to participate in the political process. This ideology informs many common perceptions of the “Highland race” during the nineteenth century both in Britain and America. An editorial in The Scottish-American Journal in 1872 about Queen Victoria’s adventures in the Highlands is meant to praise Highlanders by emphasizing how far they have advanced in civilization since the 1745 Rising: The Celtic mind may be supposed to possess few of those qualities essential to a discrimination of the merits and demerits of different forms of government. … Although, indeed, in bygone ages, the exploits of the Celts were by no means such as to excite much admiration, it must not be forgotten, as some, who attach little importance to the present loyalty of Highlandmen, are tempted to do, that between the rudeness of semi-barbarism and the cultivated politeness of civilization there is a wide difference … Whatever the blemishes of the Celt in the past may have been, it must be admitted that, at the present, he is not unequal to the task of determining as to what is beneficial for society politically as well as socially and religiously. Therefore, it would be imprudent – nay it might be even dangerous – to deny the expression of feeling manifested towards Queen Victoria on a recent occasion, that significance which intrinsically belongs to it.

The fact that the editor has to act as advocate for Highlanders here suggests that the assumptions of their inferior intellects was not entirely gone from the public imagination. Ethnic groups became “white” in North America not by changing the pigmentation of their skin, but as a mutually reinforcing process of their inclusion in privileged society. These two developments — growing access to privilege and the shifting of ethnic definitions — were not accidental, but intentional, manipulations of social hierarchies and racial boundaries. It would have been impossible for Gaels to demolish the myths of racialism by themselves; it was more feasible, and more advantageous, to instead reclassify themselves racially. The English stereotyped the Irish as being racially inferior to them. There is a perceptible effort on the part of many Highlanders to distance themselves from the Irish during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and they manipulated history in bizarre ways to accomplish this. A public speech by Rev. Dr Norman MacLeod, which was reprinted in America, made the claims: Speaking of Highlandmen, let me say— whatever may be said to the contrary— that the Celts are not Irish, and the Irish are not Celts. (Applause.) With all our defects, we have always been a loyal people. You never saw anything, and you never will see anything, like that despicable Fenianism in the Highlands of Scotland. (Cheers)

Like other contemporary peoples in similar circumstances, Gaels made recourse to racial rhetoric selectively, according to their circumstances and agenda. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries Gaels were commonly on the receiving end of oppression, and some did not hesitate to make comparisons between themselves and other victims of the Imperial Age. As more Highlanders became involved in the institutions of power and wealth in the Anglophone world, they saw the opportunities to divest themselves of their “barbaric” past and make common cause with the superior Anglo-Saxon (whether in England or North America). It is in the interplay between social conscience and individual ambition that we can see the agency and choice of Highlanders engaging in racial ideology. It is particularly when Gaels praised themselves as successful models of the “civilizing process” that we can infer that they really believed to have distanced themselves from the culture of their ancestors, and from the company of other “savages.” An excellent example of this comes from the Highland immigrant community of Glengarry, Ontario. The argument in the Canadian Parliament in 1885 supporting the Native American right to vote was buttressed by the example of the Scottish Gaels, and here reported in a newspaper in the United States:

Page 24

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

In a speech, a few days ago, in support of granting the franchise to certain civilized Indians possessing the necessary property qualification, Mr. MacMaster, M.P. for Glengarry, in the Dominion Parliament referred to the progress in civilization of the whole human race, and in particular instanced the wonderful improvement which during the last one hundred and fifty years had taken place among his own native Highlanders in Scotland (of whom he is so justly proud) through the abolition of the tribal system, and other legal restrictions. His argument was this— boldly, not only justly, deal similarly with these Indians and like effects will follow.

In other words, the harsh measures imposed on the Highlanders after Culloden were, according to MacMaster, for their own good, and equivalent measures should be imposed on the Native Americans, regardless of their protests, because it would be for their own good as well. MacMaster’s detractors argued that his comments were an insult to his Gaelic constituents because he was insulting their ancestors: They allege that in thus referring to the state of the Highlanders one hundred and fifty years ago, and in proudly and boastingly pointing out the fact that the Highland race wherever found throughout the world was now in the van of civilization, competing for and carrying off the prizes open for the highest culture and enlightenment— that, forsooth, in doing this, Mr. MacMaster had slandered his own ancestors and the Highlanders of Scotland.

The interpretation of his statements must have been a sensitive issue, for the people of Glengarrry were quite annoyed with him. His finished his term in 1887 and in 1910 moved to England.

13: Ethnic Relations When they met on a level playing field, had mutual self-interests, and were not drawn into the racially-biased institutions of the Anglophone world, Highlanders had good relations with other ethnic groups. This was particularly true of the early interactions with Native Americans in the fur trade. When visiting fellow Gaels in Montreal in 1791, Patrick Campbell remarked that Highlanders in the North-West Company were able to benefit from their Native American connections: It is necessary for these clerks to acquire the Indian language as soon as they can; the more intelligent and expert they are at it, and the more of these languages they can speak, the fitter they are for the business; for these reasons they associate much with the Indians, and often have the squaws in keeping … the Indians look upon all the progeny of their women to be of the same tribe of which their mothers are …

There are numerous examples of how Highlanders empathized with Native Americans as a people who had been marginalized and dispossessed, and made common cause with them. During his tour in America, Patrick Campbell was the guest of Captain Joseph Brant and was entertained with songs and war dances. Brant asked him to make a speech to them, which he decided to do “in the Indian language of my country,” that is, in Gaelic. After the war dances were over, “we began to [do] Scotch reels, and I was much surprised to see how neatly they danced them. Their persons are perfectly formed for such exercise.” Even more interesting is the parallel to the Gaelic experience he saw in the process of Christianizing Native America. Big Finnan “the Buffalo” MacDonald, who traveled the west extensively as a fur trader, seems to have been able to relate to native people on their own terms, learning some half a dozen native languages. “McDonald frequently, for the mere love of fighting, accompanied the Flatheads [Salish] in their war excursions against the Blackfeet. His eminent bravery endeared him to the whole tribe, and in all matters relating to warfare his word was law.” Such interactions left a hybrid culture on the frontier, as a Scottish minister recorded in 1902: The Celt has left his mark in other parts of the American continent, and it is strange that the Gaelic still lingers in districts where original Highland settlers left Scotland over a hundred years ago. Rev. J. Stewart, late minister of the United Free Church, Ross of Mull, writing to a friend in Mull, gives an

Page 25

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

interesting account of his impressions of the North-West Territory of Canada. He states that many of the half-breeds talk splendid Gaelic, and if asked where they came from they name some place in Lewis, though they have never seen Scotland. The explanation of this is that their fathers, who were Hudson Bay Company’s servants, and had married squaws, hailed from Lewis. The half-breed is proud of his Gaelic, as he thinks it connects him with his father’s country, of which he is also very proud.

As European settlement advanced in North America and conditions changed, however, relations between Highlanders and Native Peoples were little different from those with other “white” people. The fur trade was a capitalist venture, and Europeans tacitly believed in the civilizing effects of private property and competition. As the fur trade developed, it became more closely integrated with Anglophone society and took on more of its values and prejudices. Relations with Africans were equally mixed. When their Lowland Scottish neighbors requested that the Trustees for the colony of Georgia allow them to exploit the labor of African slaves, the Highlanders wrote a counter-petition in 1739. This text is one of the earliest antislavery documents in American history. Although the most immediate danger of slave labor was insurrection provoked by Spanish spies, the Highland authors mentioned other objections that sound prophetic in hindsight: It is shocking to human Nature, that any Race of Mankind and their Posterity should be sentenc’d to perpetual Slavery; nor in Justice can we think otherwise of it, than that they are thrown amongst us to be our Scourge one Day or other for our Sins: And as Freedom must be as dear to them as to us, what a Scene of Horror must it bring about! And the longer it is unexecuted, the bloody Scene must be the greater.

Slavery was prohibited in the colony until 1749. The Reverend James MacGregor was born in Scotland in 1759 and became the first Gaelic-speaking Protestant minister in Nova Scotia when he immigrated in 1786. His tract Letter to a Clergyman Urging him to set free a Black Girl he held in Slavery (1788) was among the first anti-slavery literature to appear in Canada and his efforts were strengthened by the publicity generated by his co-religionists in Scotland. Not only did he write about the inhumanity of slave-holding, he spent his personal earnings on buying the freedom of slaves. The Reverend Alexander MacLeod immigrated to the United States in 1792 at the age of eighteen and graduated with honors from Union College, New York, in 1796. His rejection of the call to ministry at a church in Coldengham, New York, on the grounds that its members included slave-owners caused the presbytery to forbid slavery among church members. He was recognized as one of America’s most accomplished religious orators, but was even more influential with his 1802 publication Negro Slavery Unjustifiable. Highland ministers in Scotland campaigned vigorously against slavery and attempted to shame their American relations into abandoning the practice, as this newspaper article from 1849 demonstrates: Many of the Gaels in America are slave owners. When there was a need for overseers and drivers of slaves in the West Indies, there was a group of young Gaels who received a little training going out from different places each year … They were often greatly corrupted by mingling with the people who were there before them, as well as by every dirty, merciless practice that goes along with slavery, so that they were unhappy despite all of the money they were able to acquire. … Therefore, we see that there are many Gaels who are entangled in this horrible evil. Let each person who reads these pages remember that they can no longer claim as an excuse that they were ignorant of the heavy guilt that lies at their doors… There is no theft or injury which is as sinful as keeping your brothers as slaves…

Highlanders in the American South seldom overcame the practices and values of slaveholding society, however. Their slaves, being members of a Highland community, also spoke Gaelic. Lady Liston, wife of the British minister in Washington, wrote in the late eighteenth century, “The Gallic language is still prevalent amongst them, their Negroes speak it, and they have a clergyman who preaches in it.” John Sinclair wrote in 1872, “I have met with a number of coloured people who speak the Gaelic as well as if they had been raised in any of the Hebrides.” Sinclair himself was minister to the freed slaves of Harnett County, and some black churches Page 26

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

continued to use Gaelic in religious services well after the abolition of slavery. Some African musicians were acknowledged masters of Highland music, such as fiddler John “Jack” McGeachy who lived in Robeson County, North Carolina from 1769 to 1869.

14: Religion in North America Many contemporary Americans with Scottish ancestry, especially those from the Presbyterian stronghold of the American South, assume that Presbyterianism is a central aspect of Highland identity. This is, however, a result of the strength of the Presbyterian religious community in America rather than an ancient inheritance of the Highland homeland itself. The dominance of Protestantism over Catholicism in the early eighteenth-century Highlands was neither as final nor as certain to contemporary observers as it might seem to us now in retrospect. Catholic priests were still attending to Highlanders in Campbell-dominated Kintyre in the early 1700s aided and abetted by Catholic contacts among the Campbells themselves. Many Highland immigrants in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were Catholic, and even among the Presbyterian colonists who left Argyll for America the trappings of pre-Reformation religion died hard. By the time of emigration the majority of the people of Argyll (who were some of the earliest settlers of North America) had accepted the Presbyterian form of the Protestant church in a confessional sense. That is to say, they considered themselves to be members of the Presbyterian church and to owe their allegiance to that religious institution. It does not necessarily follow, however, that everyone strictly observed the religious discipline of the Presbyterian church or even understood the theological revolution it brought about in great detail. One of the few surviving Gaelic-language relics of the migrants is a charm carried by Duguld McFarland to protect him during the dangerous sea voyage to North Carolina c. 1750. Not only does the charm invoke Saint Columba, a cultural icon of early-Christian Gaelic Scotland, but it also calls on the power of the sìthichean (“fairies”) to offer their protection. The Evangelical Movement brought about a “cosmological revolution in Gaelic society,” a reorientation of values and beliefs that accompanied the first major Clearances in the Highlands (1782-1846). Since landlords, chiefs and estate managers turned their backs on the tenantry, so did the lower orders respond to this betrayal in kind. The Evangelical Movement, generally led by laymen (na Daoine in Gaelic), rather than the upper echelons of Gaelic society who had previously guided affairs of church and state, enabled this grass-roots rejection of the traditional leadership to be given religious expression. It was during this period that Protestantism in the sense of a discipline had its greatest effect and impact on Highland society. In his travelogue written in America in 1869, the Rev. David MacRae took particular interest in the Highland settlements in North Carolina. He must have expected a livelier musical tradition, for he notes: Highland songs and dances were once common; but “Dixie’s Land” is better known now than the pibroch, and the Church has done a great deal to put dancing down, though its zeal has often been more than its success. One staunch Highlander, of the name of McGregor, who was a great dancer, kept himself, during the New Year festivities, in a chronic state of alcoholic excitement, and out in an appearance wherever there was hope of a reel or strathspey. He was remonstrated with, and at last threatened with the Session. “You may Sayshun, and you may Sayshun,” cried the obdurate Celt, “but when New Year comes McGregor is on the floor.”

MacGregor’s final comment is a verbal act of defiance against the church session, which must have frowned upon his frivolity. Presbyterians in the Scottish Highlands were already under pressure to iron out local “eccentricities” so that their religious traditions could appear to match those in the Lowlands. After they immigrated to the Cape Fear Valley, Gaels began to be

Page 27

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

assimilated by the Anglophones dominant in the area, thus further losing those peculiarly distinctive aspects of Highland Presbyterianism, especially those tied to the Gaelic language itself. Religion has been a crucial domain for the survival of many immigrant languages, in part because ethnically-specific religious institutions provide an isolated haven for people to perpetuate their traditions and sense of identity. Worship is an intimate form of address, and religious people are generally reluctant to change the language in which they speak to God. We do not yet know how many immigrant communities were able to continue worshipping through the medium of Gaelic in the United States. The Rev. Dr. Norman MacLeod stated (1866), “In the Southern States of America, amidst all the war and all the difficulties of late years, there are 16 congregations of Highlanders who have existed for 100 years without aid from emigration.” He does not list them, however, and we can only infer with caution that they were Gaelic-speaking. Highland settlements in Georgia and North Carolina attempted to recruit ministers early on. The leaders of the Argyll Colony (in the Cape Fear Valley) petitioned the Presbytery of Inverary in 1739 to provide them with “a clergyman that can speak the Highland language since from that country all our servants are to be, many of which cannot speak any other language.” The Rev. Hugh McAden was frustrated during his visit in 1755 because the congregations could not understand English. A total of ten Gaelic-speaking ministers were brought from Scotland for work in the Cape Fear Valley. One of these, the Rev. John Sinclair, wrote in 1858: The Gaelic language is spoken in its purity by many in these countries (Cumberland, Bladen, Robeson, Richmond, Montgomery, Moore and Harnett), and in both of my churches I preach it every Sabbath. On last Sabbath I assisted at the dispensation of the Lord’s Supper in a congregation forty miles distant from my home, and served a table at which upwards of 150 had taken their seats, who had not heard a sermon in the language of their native Highlands for the last ten years. Many tears were shed during the service, many a warm shake of the hand, such as a Highlander can give, and many a blessing was bestowed upon your correspondent at parting with warm-hearted people.

The church furthered the decline of Gaelic in the Cape Fear Valley, however, by promoting English as the prestige language to the younger generation (although it still supported the spiritual needs of older Gaelic monoglots). This is suggested by a mid nineteenth-century account of the Gaelic community: At the time Mr. Campbell labored in Cumberland [mid-1700s], the larger number of the people used the Gaelic language; some could use both that and the English … Mr. Campbell, to accommodate his hearers, preached two sermons each Sabbath, one in English and one in Gaelic; this he did in all three of his churches. In a few congregations, in the Presbytery of Fayetteville, this practice of preaching in the two languages is still continued. The influence of this language has been great upon the Scotch settlements in Carolina. There have been some disadvantages attending it, and the language is fast passing away. But for a long time it was a bond of union, and a preservation of those feelings and principles peculiar to the Scotch emigrants, many of which ought to be preserved forever. The change has been so gradual in putting off the Gaelic, and adopting the English, that the people of Cumberland have suffered as little, from a change of their language, as any people that have ever undergone that unwelcome process.

Missionaries were not just spokesmen for the Christian Scriptures, they were agents of social and educational reform. This meant that preachers could find themselves on missions to civilize not just Highlanders, but other “primitive” people as well, teaching them the English language and English manners: The Trustees of the colony of Georgia having, in 1735, engaged a considerable number of people, from the Highlands of Scotland, to settle there, and being desirous that they should have a Presbyterian minister to preach to them in Gaelic, and to teach and catechize the children in English, applied to the Society [for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge] to grant a commission to such a minister, who should likewise act as one of their missionaries for instructing the native Indians …

Page 28

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

There are references to occasional Gaelic religious services in many parts of America. In New York City in 1772, for example: A Sermon was preached in the Highland Language by the Reverend Mr. Drummond, from Connecticut, at the Scotch Meeting in this City. His Text was in the 5th Chapter and first Verse of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans … which Doctrine Mr. Drummond handled with such Power and Freedom as to cause a very sensible impression on as many of his Hearers as could understand that antient and comprehensive Language.

Two churches in Boston, the United Presbyterian Church and the Scotch Presbyterian Church, held weekly Gaelic services for several generations. The Gaelic-speaking community in Graniteville, Vermont, also enjoyed Gaelic religious services. In general, however, sources indicate poor support for Gaelic in most religious institutions in the United States. A Scottish minister who traveled widely wrote in 1872 that Gaelic was not preached anywhere “I could hear of in the United States, save in one church at Elmira, 100 miles west of Chicago.” When visiting the United States, Gaelic-speaking ministers sometimes took the opportunity to address church-goers and this seems to have been a pleasant experience for many Highland immigrants, as this anecdote from New York in 1894 suggests: On Sunday last the Rev. A. C. Macdonald, of Queen Street Free Church, Inverness, preached a sermon in Gaelic in the Fourth Presbyterian Church, West 34th street. There was a good gathering of the clans on the occasion, the church being well filled. Among those present were a number of enthusiastic Gaels from Paterson, Elizabeth, and other places round about. The meeting was not confined to the old people as might have been expected. A considerable number of young people of both sexes were also there … The service, by recalling sweet memories, proved a bright spot in the life of many a Highlander, and a general wish was expressed that before leaving these shores Mr. Macdonald would again address them in their mother tongue.

Despite the general acceptance of the protestant reformation in Scotland, there are several areas of the Highlands and Islands that have adhered to the Catholic Church to the present day. Many Catholic communities rooted themselves in North America. Among the settlers brought by John Macdonald of Glenaladale to Prince Edward Island in 1772 was Father James Macdonald, who spoke Gaelic, English, Italian, and French. He worked as a missionary among the Gaels and Acadians in the area until his death in 1785. The Reverend Angus MacEachern arrived in 1790 and became the first Bishop of Charlottestown, providing leadership for the Catholic Highlanders of Prince Edward Island and eastern Nova Scotia. Other Catholic Highland settlements in Canada received Gaelic-speaking priests. A Gaelicspeaking Catholic priest, Roderick Macdonell, was assigned to Catholics who settled in the Glengarry and Stormont counties of Ontario in 1785 and his responsibilities extended into Illinois. Alexander “Scotus” Macdonell, who led most of the parish of Knoydart to Glengarry, Ontario, joined him in 1786. By the mid-1830s, Canada was producing its own Gaelic-speaking priests and meeting the needs of its Catholic parishes. Soon it began to export Gaelic-speaking priests and ministers to the communities that were resettling in the United States. Support for Gaelic in Canadian churches was better than in the United States, and this encouraged its survival. Angus MacMillan reported in 1892 that of the seventeen congregations of Highlanders in Glengarry, four of them still offered Gaelic services. Gaelic was last used in the Kenyon Presbyterian Church of Dunvegan, Ontario, where services continued until 1934. In Prince Edward Island in 1893, Gaelic was preached regularly in ten of the thirty Presbyterian congregations. An observer in 1899 reported that “250 congregations [in Canada] require the services of Gaelic-speaking priests and ministers for preaching Gaelic each Sabbath, and seventy more for visiting and pastoral purposes.”

Page 29

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

15: Highland Influences and Traces There are people who see Celtic (or Gaelic) influences in everything, but forget that rural folk culture had much in common all over Europe. Numerous folk cultures were transplanted to America while they were still strong. Industrialization in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries brought about a rapid decline of folk culture in Europe, except for the “undeveloped” Celtic fringes. This does not mean, however, that similar practices, customs and traditions did not once thrive in England, Germany, France, Spain, and other countries that supplied large numbers of American immigrants. A few examples of folk customs that are found in many European folk cultures but are incorrectly seen as particularly Celtic are fiddle music, bagpipes, step-dancing, wakes, Ballad singing, feuding, belief in fairies, and cattle droving. Many aspects of European folk culture were paralleled in African folk culture and brought to North America by slaves. Furthermore, in order to have an accurate understanding of the Gaelic legacy in North American culture, we must differentiate between at least three layers of influences: 1) The influence of Gaelic language and culture upon Anglophone culture in the British Isles before the era of emigration; 2) The influence of Highlandism and imaginative literature (which may be in some way derived from Gaelic culture) in America; 3) The actual impact of Gaelic language and culture on American society by the direct influence of Highland immigrant communities. As English speakers and Gaelic speakers have been interacting with one another for centuries in the British Isles, it is not surprising that they have borrowed words, concepts and aspects of material culture from one another. Here are a few words borrowed into English from Gaelic (before the period of emigration): Original Gaelic

As borrowed into English as

Bodhar “deaf”

Bother: to annoy or hassle, especially by talking too much

Brat “cloth”

Brat: Infants were wrapped in cloths

Grod “rotten”

Groddy: disgusting, gross

Peata “domestic animal” Pet

As we have seen in Section 11, Highlandism and imaginative literature – generally the novels of Sir Walter Scott – made the idea of Scottishness, and especially symbols from the Highlands, appealing in the United States. Hollywood continued this flirtation with Scottish themes in such films as Brigadoon (1954), Rob Roy (1953 and 1995), Highlander (1986) and Braveheart (1995). Such influences on popular culture have infused certain elements derived from Scottish heritage into North America, but generally not ones that are accurate representations of Highland culture. Some claim, for example, that the rites and symbols of the Klu Klux Klan are derived from the Scottish communities that settled the American South, but these too were borrowed from popular literature rather than from living traditions. The fiery cross was made known to American readers by Sir Walter Scott’s poem The Lady in the Lake, and picked up by American author Thomas Dixon in his 1905 novel The Clansman. It was The Birth of a Nation, however, the movie adaptation of the novel, which provided symbols which were adopted by the white supremacists who re-established the KKK in 1915. There is no evidence that Highland communities in America ever used the fiery cross, or that direct connections with Gaelic culture influenced the symbolism of the KKK. Despite these false positives, there are examples of how Highland Page 30

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

immigrants have, in fact, left their mark on the history, music, language, sport, and names of North America, just to name a few categories. The ancient game of camanachd, called “hurling” in Ireland and “shinty” in Scotland, was at least one important ingredient in the formation of hockey in Canada. It was the tradition for the men of a township to play camanachd as part of the celebration of New Year, and Captain Archibald Chisholm boasted to friends in Scotland that he had played the game in Canada on a “splendid field of ice, 300 miles long, 200 miles wide and the ice at least 10 feet thick.” Organizations were established in the United States by Highland immigrants to play the game, such as the New York Highlanders Shinty Club in 1903 and the Scottish-American Shinty Club in Englewood, New Jersey, in 1911. The celebration of Halloween in America is a complex synthesis of different layers of influence from several immigrant groups. Although it originated as a pre-Christian Celtic festival honoring the dead called Samhain, Halloween was largely harmonized with Christianity over a thousand years ago. The popularity of this festival helped aspects of it endure and spread to neighbors. English, Irish, Scotch-Irish, and Highland immigrants all brought their own variations of the festival with them that merged and cross-fertilized each other in America. Culture and tradition, of course, do not remain static but are susceptible to various kinds of influences. A Scottish writer noted in 1904 that the celebration of Halloween in America was becoming cleaned up and “gentrified” according to the values and notions of the day: It must be gratifying to Scotsmen here that Hallowe’en is not overlooked in their adopted country. With every passing year the festival appears to be more generally and heartily celebrated … But this is a new country, and its cities, especially, are not adapted for the best of the Hallowe’en gambols so popular in Scotland — at least in our young day. Besides, the articles referred to evince a desire to modernize Hallowe’en, and to bring it up to-date for fashionable entertainments …

Other celebrations and traditions have been altered by modern tastes in America. Highland dancing, for example, has gone from being the past-time of folk communities to being a competitive art form influenced by ballet aesthetics and performed by specially-trained athletes. A Scottish visitor to the Highland Games in New York in 1865 complained, “The dancing was very creditable, but it must be remarked that with regard to the Highland Fling, in some instances, steps were introduced entirely foreign to it, which detracts from the national character of that highly picturesque Terpsicorean display.” Such refashioning of Highland tradition according to contemporary tastes and trends has been happening for as long as we know, but Gaelic culture has had to contend with some substantial disadvantages. By studying carefully the remains of Scottish Gaelic immigrants, we can understand their own personal experiences and the meaning of the legacy of the culture of which they were a part.

Bibliography The following are some of the best and most reliable sources for understanding Scottish Highland immigrant history and culture in North America. Bailyn, Bernard, 1986, Voyagers to the West, New York: Vintage. Bennett, Margaret, 1989, The Last Stronghold: The Scottish Gaelic Traditions of Newfoundland, Edinburgh: Canongate. — 1998. Oatmeal and the Catechism: Scottish Gaelic Settlers in Quebec, Montreal and Kingston: McGillQueen's University Press. Campbell, John Lorne, 1990, Songs Remembered in Exile, Aberdeen University Press. Dunn, Charles, 1968, Highland Settler: A Portrait of the Scottish Gael in Cape Breton and Eastern Nova Scotia, (reprint 1991), Cape Breton Island: Breton Books.

Page 31

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

Kelly, Douglas and Caroline Switzer Kelly, 1998, Carolina Scots, Dillon, South Carolina: 1739 Publications. MacDonell, Margaret, 1982, The Emigrant Experience, University of Toronto Press. MacGeachy, Robert A. A., 1999, “Captain Lauchlin Campbell and Early Argyllshire Emigration to New York,” Northern Scotland 19, pp. 21-46. Macinnes, Allan, Marjory-Ann Harper and Linda Fryer, 2002, (ed.) Scotland and the Americas, c. 1650- c. 1939, Edinburgh: Scottish History Society. McKenna, Kenneth, 1998, Highland Paths: Tales of Glengarry, Ottawa: Tri-Graphic Printing. Murdoch, Alexander, 1990, “A Scottish Document concerning Emigration to North Carolina in 1772,” http://www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hp/colonial/Nchr/subjects/murdoch.htm. Newton, Michael, 2001, We’re Indians Sure Enough: The Legacy of the Scottish Highlanders in the United States, Richmond: Saorsa Media. – 2001, “In Their Own Words: Gaelic Literature in North Carolina,” Scotia 25, pp. 1-28. – 2003, “Growing Cold-Hearted Like the Gentiles Around Them: Scottish Gaelic in the United States 1872-1912,” http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/celtic/ekeltoi/volumes/vol2/index.html – 2003, “Jacobite Past, Loyalist Present,” http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/celtic/ekeltoi/volumes/ vol5/index.html – 2009, Warriors of the Word: The World of the Scottish Highlanders, Edinburgh: Birlinn. Parker, Anthony, 1997, Scottish Highlanders in Colonial Georgia, Athens: University of Georgia Press. Reid, W. Stanford, 1976, (ed.) The Scottish Tradition in Canada, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. Shaw, John, 1988, “Observations on the Cape Breton Gàidhealtachd and its Relevance to Present-Day Celtic Studies,” in Gordon MacLennan (ed.) Proceedings of the First North American Congress of Celtic Studies, University of Ottawa, pp. 75-87. – 1996,”Brief Beginnings: Nova Scotian and Old World Bards Compared,” Scottish Gaelic Studies 17, pp. 342-355. – 2000, (ed.) Brìgh an Òrain / A Story in Every Song: The Songs and Tales of Lauchie MacLellan, Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Page 32

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

Appendix A: Chronology of Migrations Wave 1: 1730s to 1756 This wave consists of the earliest settlements of Highland communities in North America. The beginning of the Highland involvement in the French and Indian War (also called “the Seven Years War”) marks the end of the first wave. 1736: Settlement of Darien, Georgia on branch of Altamaha River 1738: Captain Lauchlin Campbell leaves Islay leading 183 people to settle land grant near Fort Ann, New York (more came in 1739, 1740) 1739: First migrations to Cape Fear River Valley in North Carolina

Wave 2: 1757 to 1776 An estimated 12,000 Highlanders were recruited to fight in North America during the French and Indian War, and many of them were rewarded with land grants in British territory. These soldiers were able to entice many of their families and communities to join them, and this exodus quickened pace as economic conditions in the Scottish Highlands worsened. The beginning of the American Revolution marks the end of this wave. 1762: Soldiers given land grants around Murray Bay and Mount Murray in Charlevoix County, Quebec 1763: At least 20 families of French and Indian War veterans settled as tenants of Sir William Johnson on his Kingsborough Patent (aka, “Johnson’s Bush”) on north shore of Mohawk River, above Johnstown 1764: Over 20,000 acres between Ticonderoga and Crown Point, New York, granted to Highland veterans (especially from 42nd and 77th regiments) 1769: Hugh Fraser settles kinsmen on 500 acres of land near Bennington, New York 1769-74: Height of immigration of Highlanders to Cape Fear Valley 1770-3: 300 families settle around Tracadie, Prince Edward Island from Uist and Moydart 1772: Normand MacLeod settles his relations on 3,000-acre grant near Kingsborough Patent 1773: Gaels arrive in ship “Hector” in Pictou, Nova Scotia 1773: Macdonell emigrants arrive on ship “Pearl” in New York to look for land, most settle on Sir William Johnson’s Kingsborough Patent 1774: Gaels from Applecross settle in Donegal, Pennsylvania 1774: John Cumming settles his Strathspey kin on settlement along Hudson River in Albany County, New York around Catskill

Wave 3: 1776 to 1801 An estimated 21,000 to 24,000 Highland soldiers were recruited to fight for the British Crown in 18 regiments during the American Revolution. Surviving soldiers were rewarded with land grants in British North America (now called Canada). When the American colonies became an independent nation-state and required citizens to pledge their allegiance, many Highlanders residing in the former colonies relocated to Canada. Likewise, although some migration to the US continued, most direct emigration from Scotland became redirected to Canada. As long as the British warred against Napoleon, recruitment provided employment for the male population and held back the need for radical agricultural reform in the Scottish Highlands. Further jarring convulsions were to come in the social fabric and economic conditions of the Highlands by the time of the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. 1783: Highland Loyalists given lands in townships of Lancaster, Charlottenburg, Cornwall, Osnabruck, and Williamsburg in Glengarry County, Ontario

Page 33

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

1784: Royal Highland Emigrants (2nd Battalion) settle north side of Pictou Harbour, Nova Scotia; Hamilton’s Regiment (82nd) settle south side; various soldiers settle along St. John River, New Brunswick from its mouth to Woodstock; Loyalists from New York relocate to Cape Breton, settle near Judique 1785: Migration from Glengarry, Scotland to Glengarry County, Ontario 1788: Royal Highland Emigrants (1st Battalion) granted lands in Chatham township, Quebec 1791: Further migration from Glengarry, Scotland to Glengarry County, Ontario 1791: 650 Catholic Gaels (from Western Isles) come to Antigonish County, Nova Scotia 1792: Settlement in west of Cape Breton Island 1794: Highland settlement established in Lochiel, Quebec 1796: Families from Lewis settle in Conequenessing, Pennsylvania 1799: Breadalbane emigrants settle in Livingston County, New York 1801: Ship with Highlanders from Inverness-shire lands in Pictou; ship with Highlanders from Moidart lands in Cape Breton

Wave 4: 1802 to 1840

During this period, landlords removed poor, landless tenants from their farms and replaced them with sheep on a wide scale throughout the Highlands. Many tenants were moved to marginal lands, and those on the coasts were engaged in the labor-intensive industry of kelp making, which was highly profitable due to the isolation of Britain from continental markets during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1802, some 3,300 Highlanders responded by emigration for North America, and another estimated 5,000 left the next year. Fearing the departure of their servile labor force, landlords were able to lobby the Parliament to pass the Passenger Act of 1803. The Act ostensibly aimed to improve conditions on the emigrant ships, but it effectively raised the price of passage beyond which most Highland tenants were able to afford. The act held back the tides of exodus until the end of Napoleonic era, when kelp prices and military recruitment fell. 1802: Migration of 800 people from Glengarry, Scotland to Glengarry County, Ontario 1802: Strathnairn and Strathdearn emigrants form “Scotch Settlement” in Columbiana and Jefferson Counties, Ohio (closest to modern towns of Wellsville and East Liverpool) 1802: Migration from Loch Nevis to Quebec 1803: Lord Selkirk leads settlement around Brudenell, Prince Edward Island; more arrived in 1804 and 1807-08. 1804: Settlement of Barra Catholics around Bras d’Or, Cape Breton 1805: Cape Fear Highlanders migrate to “Scotch Settlement” around Union Church, Jefferson County, Mississippi 1807: Note of Highland settlement at Grant’s Hill, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1808: Blair Atholl Highlanders come to Prince Edward Island 1810: 300 Highlanders migrate to Prince Edward Island 1812: Settlement of Skye people in Cape North, Cape Breton 1813: Red River Valley, Manitoba settlement begins 1813: Settlement around West Bay and Middle River, Cape Breton 1814: Highlanders comprise about half of Cape Breton’s population 1815: More Highlanders (mostly Kildonan) go to Red River Valley 1816: Highland settlement begins in Elgin County, Ontario 1816: Perth, Ontario settled by Highland soldiers as military defense 1817: Rev Norman MacLeod leads Sutherland Gaels to Pictou 1818: Argyll emigrants settle in Elgin County, Ontario 1820: Highland settlement established in Zorra, Ontario 1820: Sutherland emigrants settle in Earltown, Colchester Co., Nova Scotia Page 34

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

1821: Migration from Richmond County (North Carolina) to Walton County, Florida 1821-22: Some 360 Sutherland Highlanders go to Pictou 1822: Archibald MacNab brings “clansmen” from Killin to MacNab township, Ottawa Valley 1826: Migration from Robeson County (North Carolina) to Thomas County, Georgia 1826: Two-hundred Highlanders from Rum go to Cape Breton 1828-1838: Height of immigration of Highlanders to Cape Breton 1829: Migration from Sannox, isle of Arran, to Inverness, Megantic County, Quebec 1829: 400 settlers from Arran go to Chaleur Bay, Quebec 1829-1832: Skye emigrants go to Belfast, Prince Edward Island 1830: Breadalbane emigrants begin coming to North and South Easthope of Huron Tract in SE Ontario 1831: More Sutherland Highlanders come to Pictou 1836-7: Skye emigrant go to the Old Scotch Settlement in New Brunswick 1840: 550 Skye emigrants go to Prince Edward Island

Page 35

Highland Settlers Booklet

© 2012 Michael Newton

Appendix B: Suggested Student Exercises (Parts 1 and 2 based on material created by Mrs. Mary Jane McKay, Social Studies Department Chair, The Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies, 1000 North Lombardy Street, Richmond, Virginia, 23220)

1. Anticipation Guide The following activity can be used to begin discussion or background review of this material for your lesson focus. Ask students to write a Yes or No next to the questions. __ 1. Highlanders represent the culture of all of Scotland. __ 2. The traditional language of the Scottish Highlands is an older form of English. __ 3. The government forbade the wearing of tartan after 1746. __ 4. People of African descent were not allowed to play Highland tunes on the fiddle. __ 5. The term “Scotch-Irish” became common in America due to racial distancing. __ 6. Gaelic was spoken in Chicago by thousands of people in the nineteenth century. __ 7. The names MacKay and MacCoy are based on the Gaelic name MacAoidh. __ 8. No Highlanders were Catholic when they came to North America. __ 9. Regiments fighting for the British Crown were formed by Highland immigrants in North Carolina. __ 10. The fur trade was not important in the development of British North America. __ 11. Highlanders have always been seen as “white” people. __ 12. Highland bagpipe bands were brought by the early immigrants in the eighteenth century.

Page 36

Highland Settlers Booklet

2. Terms List

© 2012 Michael Newton

The terms listed below appear in the reading and represent some of the keywords and vocabulary students may define/understand for reading comprehension. 1.













Darien (Georgia):


Cape Fear:


Argyll Colony:

10. chain migration: 11. Cape Breton Island: 12. Ossian: 13. Alexander MacKenzie: 14. Highland Society: 15. Douglas Hyde: 16. Jessie MacLachlan: 17. waulking song: 18. camanachd: 19. tartanism: 20. céilidh:

Page 37

Highland Settlers Booklet

3. Factors in Migration or Tenacity

© 2012 Michael Newton

Different factors encouraged people to emigrate or stay at home during each period of history. Some of these are referred to as push factors (forces beyond their control which force them out) while others are referred to as pull factors (incentives which they react to of their own free will). Ask students to make a list of such push and pull factors both for the population who left and those who stayed behind, filling out the entries below (as many as possible) for each of these factors they can identify. Stay/Go Push/Pull Time Region


Page 38