Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Monday, September 24, 2007

Presbyterianism Transplanted to America

1683-84 Francis Makemie, “the Father of American Presbyterianism,” establishes the first Presbyterian congregation in Maryland.

1706 The first American mainstream presbytery formed in Philadelphia.

1720-45 The most significant period of migration of Scots-Irish Presbyterians to America.

1753 First American Associate (or Seceder) Presbytery.

1768 Dr John Witherspoon, leader of the Orthodox party in the Church of Scotland, emigrates to become Principal of Princeton College, and later a signatory of the Declaration of Independence.

1774 First American Reformed Presbytery.

1782 Some of the Seceders and all the Covenanter preachers unite to form what would eventually evolve into the Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) (hence Erskine College and Erskine Theological Seminary in South Carolina).

1798 The Reformed Presbytery re-established in America.

The greater part of the Presbyterians that came to America did not come directly from Scotland, but were Scots-Irish or Ulster Scots from the North of Ireland (e.g. Francis Makemie was from North-West Ulster, or the Laggan, and two of the earliest presbyteries were Donegal and Londonderry). These Scots-Irish had settled the wilderness of Ireland amongst wild and dangerous inhabitants, and so were ideally suited for the plantation of America.

In Ireland, Presbyterians did not enjoy the same freedom as their brethren in Scotland due to the establishment in Ireland of the Episcopalian Church, e.g. a marriage performed by a Presbyterian minister was illegal. This together with unjust taxation and exorbitant rents led to a large emigration from Ulster. The continued migration of many from the RPCI to America over the years, due to the greater poverty of its membership, would have a profoundly weakening effect on this small denomination. (Their poverty was exacerbated by the fact that they did not have the help of government money as the other Presbyterians did.)

In America, these Irish Presbyterians would experience similar persecution by Episcopalians in Virginia and unjust taxation and usurpation of power by the British Parliament, thus leading to the predominant influence of these people in the War for Independence. Lord Mountjoy told the British Parliament, “We have lost America through the Irish [i.e. the Scots-Irish Presbyterians, not the Irish Catholics].” Prime Minister Walpole in a jibe to his Cabinet (i.e. Executive) said, “I hear that our American cousin has run away with a Scots-Irish [Presbyterian] parson.” They applied many of the same principles in rejecting George III as King as the Covenanters had in rejecting Charles II and James II at Sanquhar.

The Scots-Irish would have a profound effect on the history of America, providing many of its presidents (e.g. Andrew Jackson), generals (e.g. Stonewall Jackson), pioneers (e.g. Davy Crockett) and leading businessmen. Many of those who live in the country areas of America and derive their blood from the earlier settlers would have Scots-Irish descent.

During the movement westward, many of these Scots-Irish would become Baptists and Methodists due to the inability of the Presbyterian Church to adapt to the Frontier conditions and the influence of revivalism.


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