When the Celtic people of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern England began coming in large numbers to what would become the United States, the Puritans and Cavaliers were already here. These latter groups were astounded to some degree by these new settlers. If Puritans were more “communal” and Cavaliers were more hierarchical, the Celts were individualists almost entirely. The former groups were taken aback by the notion that these shabbily dressed, crude mannered people demanded respect regardless of their station in life- a notion that was foreign in the structure of the other the American settlements.
The Celtic settlers of the American back country, often referred to as Scots-Irish, were the driving force behind colonial expansion. It was from their stock that men like Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and others descended. Whereas the Puritans tended to arrive in the new colonies traveling either alone or with only their “nuclear” family members, the Scots-Irish tended to have members of their extended family with them to include Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts and Cousins. Due to their clannish nature intrinsic to the areas of North Briton from where they’d come, and unlike the “communal” tendencies of Puritans, these folks considered anyone outside of their own settlements, and often their own families, to be “foreigners.”
Individuality also existed to a much larger degree than in other groups of settlers in their ideas of government. Rather than families being held, by law, to “community standards” as with the Puritans, the Celtic settlers were governed by their own familial order, and did not brook any trespasses on this structure by outsiders. Religion and economic traditions differed greatly as well.
Hillary Clinton’s notion some years ago that “it takes a village” was in reference to the “ordered” society, and governmental structure of New England Puritans, wherein the community itself, through its governing apparatus, would set and enforce the standards by which families were to live. These edicts of Puritan culture were backed by government force. The back-country folks who migrated to the Southern States would have rejected such foolishness outright as the idea is in direct opposition to their culture and their traditions. Rather than “it takes a village”, they’d have opined “it takes a family.” Not only mothers and fathers, but aunts, uncles, grandparents and all manner of “kinfolk” played a role in the cohesiveness of Southern, back country society.
It is unlikely that the Celtic clans who built the Deep South knew of John Locke, and even less likely that they had studied him, and yet they were essentially practicing tenants of his philosophical essays on natural rights. Trespassing on the rights or property of another was taboo, and family honor was as sacred as their religious beliefs. One who did not heed this was apt to suffer violent consequences, and often even death.
Unlike Puritan society where the will of the child was to be “broken” and submission to communal authority was taught, the settlers of the Deep South fostered a fierce individualism and free will in the upbringing of their children. Southern boys were reared to be the “warriors” of their clan, and were taught from early ages to use firearms, wield axes, throw knives and hunt game. Contests of manhood, akin to the Highland Games, were formed around these skills. Wrestling and fighting among kids was not only to be expected, it was encouraged. When in the 1980s Hank Williams Jr. sang “you can’t starve us out and you can’t make us run, we’re them old boys raised on shotguns” he was singing of a tradition of rugged individualism that has been handed down through generation after generation of Southern boys going all the way back a time beyond the first “Scots-Irish” ever setting foot on North American soil. This tradition was brought to the American Deep South from the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland and the Border Counties of North Briton. It was a tradition that defined who our people were, and it is who we are today.
And this is what the new Puritans- some call them progressives and liberals –despise and fail to understand about us and about our culture. We are, in their minds, supposed to bow to the will of our Yankee betters and simply adopt whatever collectivist, communal standards they concoct for us. We should, they suppose, just accept blindly whatever they dictate from the various government platforms that they project themselves from. This is the continuance of “reconstruction” as first foisted upon us in the post-bellum era of the 19th Century. But, in addition to the fact that all of their high-minded ideas- backed, of course, by various forms of government coercion -for how we should eat, educate our kids, raise our families and generally live our lives have proven to be failures, another problem arises- it is simply not within our nature to submit.