Often, the local church was all that held the community together. The phenomenon was called clachan, a word generally meaning "a small village with a church" but, in its broader sense, meaning "I got your back."
Some stronger, or more powerful preachers decided to try their luck in America, where opportunity was more available for their parishioners to make a decent living. Thus, many made their intentions known to migrate, and the more loyal parishioners decided to go, too. This led to the clachan movement becoming very strong in the Colonies during the time leading up to the American Revolution. Many a fiery Presbyterian minister proclaimed from the pulpit that Americans owed no allegiance to the King of England.
The Scotch-Irish are most often credited with being the driving force in the Revolution.
According to the celebrated British historian of the American Revolution, George Trevelyan – in the early days of the Revolution British loyalists felt that, “Political agitation against the Royal Government had been deliberately planned by Presbyterians…was fostered and abetted by Presbyterians in every colony.”
Likewise, John C. Miller observed, “To the end, the Churchmen believed that the Revolution was a Presbyterian-Congregationalist plot.”
A Hessian captain, fighting on behalf of the British, told a friend in Germany, in 1778, “Call this war, dearest friend, by whatsoever name you may, only call it not an American Revolution; it is nothing more nor less than an Irish-Scotch Presbyterian Rebellion.”
Andrew Hammond, British commander of the HMS Roebuck, arrived in America just after the American Declaration of Independence had been signed by the members of the Continental Congress. Even at that early stage of revolt Hammond conveyed the perspective of the Anglicans – “It is the Presbyterians that have brought about this revolt, and aim at getting the government of America into their hands.”
Isaac Atkinson, a Maryland loyalist, expressed his opinion of the Revolution, saying that, “It was a religious dispute and a Presbyterian scheme.”
Thomas Smith, a supporter of the crown in Pennsylvania, held the view that, “The whole was nothing but a scheme of a parcel of hot-headed Presbyterians.”
King George III was advised by William Jones, in 1776, “This has been a Presbyterian war from the beginning… and accordingly the first firing against the King’s troops was from a Massachusetts meeting house.”
Even George Washington, leader of the Continental Army, is recorded at Valley Forge as saying, “If all else fails, I will retreat up the valley of Virginia, plant my flag on the Blue Ridge, rally around the Scotch-Irish of that region and make my last stand for liberty amongst a people who will never submit to British tyranny whilst there is a man left to draw a trigger.”
Scarcity and persecution in Northern Ireland led directly to the freedom we have enjoyed in America for so long. We owe all those who fought and suffered so much for their contribution.