Scots Irish to America - Facts, History, Influence, Contributions

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After conquering Ireland, Queen Elizabeth I of England, gave Ulster in Northern Ireland to her supporters. These supporters started a linen and wool industry here. Labor was imported from Lowland Scotland to work in the industry. The Scots intermarried with the Irish. Their offspring were known as Scots Irish. The English thought the Scots Irish were barbaric. Animosities grew and so did religious tension. Most Irish were Catholic. In contrast, most English and Scots were Protestant. These religious tensions together with economic hardships were much of the reason for the Scots-Irish immigration to America in colonial times.

 Many of the Scots Irish left Northern Ireland for a more promising future in America. Most entered America through the port of Philadelphia. From here, they migrated to the backcountry of colonial Pennsylvania and Virginia. In the 1740's, many Scots-Irish made their way down the Great Wagon Road (I-81 today) to the North Carolina Piedmont. This route was also used by other religious groups who settle NC.

Influence on American Politics and Military

The Scots Irish brought with them their Presbyterian faith which formed a strong tight knit community. In addition, the Scots Irish brought with them their animosities towards the British. They detested the English Anglican Church because of its affiliation with the British Government and its oppressive religious and economic policies.

The Scots Irish found the local government corrupt which also fueled their anti-government and anti-establishment tendencies. As a result, many joined the Regulator movement in the 1760s. Moreover, many later became leaders in the American Revolution


Presbyterians believed in education and helped found the University of NC. They also brought their culture to North Carolina.