Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Andrew Jackson's background in Ulster

Professor H W Brands from the University of Texas wrote a bestselling biography of President Andrew Jackson and in it he described Jackson's family background in Ulster.
Among the Ulster immigrants were a man named Andrew Jackson and his wife, Elizabeth.  Andrew was one of four sons of a linen draper named Hugh Jackson, whose luck at the linen craft wasn't sufficient to entice any of the boys to follow in his footsteps.  Instead they went into farming.  But they never acquired the capital to purchase land and had to content themselves with renting plots from the better-to-do.  One son, his father's namesake, went off to the army, with whom he fought against the French and Indians in America, in the uplands of the Carolinas.  On returning home he told Andrew and the others what a lovely country that was and how a man who might never hope to own property in Ulster could easily become a freeholder in the Carolinas.  There was the small matter of those Indians, who remained unreconciled to the presence of large numbers of immigrants, but the Ulster Scots had been fighting their neighbours for centuries, and the Indians couldn't be any tougher than the Highlanders or the Irish.  Elizabeth Jackson heard similar stories, included in letters from her four sisters who had emigrated to the same vicinity her brother-in-law extolled.
Professor Brand also set their journey to America in the context of a flood of Scotch-Irish emigration:
During the mid-eighteenth century - when famine gripped large parts of Ireland, including the north - as many as ten thousand Scotch-Irish left Ulster each year for America.  The route from Belfast to Philadelphia and thence to the Pennsylvania frontier became a regular Scotch-Irish highway.

  • H W Brands, Andrew Jackson: New York, 2006

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