In colonial times, the Irish population in America was second
in number only to the English. Many early Irish immigrants were
of sturdy, Scotch-Irish stock. Pushed out of Ireland by religious
conflicts, lack of political autonomy and dire economic conditions,
these immigrants were pulled to America by the promise of land
ownership and greater religious freedom.
Most Scotch-Irish immigrants were educated, skilled workers.
Even those who financed their emigration by becoming indentured
servants were well equipped to lead successful, independent lives
when their period of servitude ended. They were readily assimilated
into the life of the new nation.
The Scotch-Irish settled in the middle colonies, especially in
Pennsylvania where the city of Philadelphia was a major port of
debarkation. Over subsequent decades, the Scotch-Irish migrated
south following the Great Philadelphia Road, the main route used
for settling the interior southern colonies. Traveling down Virginias
Shenandoah Valley, then south into the North Carolina Piedmont
region, they reached South Carolina by the 1760s. Settlers here
often became frontiersmen and Indian fighters.
Presidents Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan traced their roots
to these early Americans.