When James VI of Scotland became James I of England, he initiated the colonization of Northern Ireland (Ulster) with thousands of poor Scottish lowlanders most of whom were Calvinistic dissenters. James wrote, “The settling of religion, the introducing of civility, order and government among a barbarous and un-subdued people … is worthy of a Christian Prince.”
Within a hundred years the immigrants transformed Northern Ireland into a thriving community. Thousands of these Ulster-Scots emigrated to the Colonies of British North America, first to New England and then to Pennsylvania and from thence on into Virginia and the Carolinas. They produced most of the pioneers of the American Old West; the Archetypal frontiersman, Davy Crockett, was a son of an immigrant from County Derry.
No less than ten United States presidents traced their ancestry to Ulster (Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, Johnson, Grant, Arthur, Cleveland, Harrison, McKinley, Wilson).
The aggressive Scots were always in the vanguard of the continual movement of Israelites westward, even after reaching the prophesied “appointed place” (II Sam. 7:10) and the throne of David had been established, for the prophecy of Isaiah had still to be fulfilled: “The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell.” (Isaiah 49:20).
The Ulster poet John Hewitt, who died in 1987, wrote, “A writer [and for the term ‘writer’ we can equally well substitute ‘person’] must have ancestors. Not just of the blood, but of the emotions, of the quality and slant of mind. He must know where he comes from, otherwise how can he tell where he wishes to go?