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This is a copyrighted document from the electronic archive for Wilma A. Dunaway. Women, Work and Family in the Antebellum Mountain South (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Pressures to Speak English     Migration and Relocation

Economic Pressures toward Assimilation

Pressures toward Religious Assimilation   

Assimilation toward Racial Solidarity

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Despite such long-running ethnic animosities, there was enormous pressure on Euroamerican emigrants to assimilate. Newcomers were expected to acculturate to the politically and culturally dominant ethnic group, the English, and variations from their norms were not well-tolerated. According to the advice of one early nineteenth century immigrant handbook:

The people of the United States, considered as a whole, are composed of immigrants and their descendants from almost every country. . . . The English language is almost wholly used; the English manners modified to be sure, predominate, and the spirit of English liberty and enterprise animates the energies of the whole people. English laws and institutions, adapted to the circumstances of the country, have been adopted here. . . . The tendency of things is to mould the whole into one people, whose leading characteristics are English, formed on American soil. (1)

Being different set a family apart from neighbors, making them culturally and politically suspect.

Bound by language, culture, territorial association, and historical derivation, ethnicity's purpose is to dissociate rather than associate, to engage in reductionist enterprise as opposed to aggregation. Implicit in the concept of ethnicity is the determination of that which is unique about a group of people; it is an attempt to understand the essence of what distinguishes various collections of individuals.

Because of the daily-lived pressures that resulted from their ethnic marginalization, members clung to their past heritage with differing degrees of passion. In the face of the need to survive, group solidarity around a sense of ethnic difference often declined. According to Simon James:

Many, sometimes the majority, may feel weakly attached to a nominal identity. Ethnicity may be regarded as less important than the other major dimensions of identity within their social world. . . . It may be that a strong sense of group identity is confined to certain parts of society which consider it important. . . . Many changes in a group's internal circumstances may lead to dissipation, fission, or fusion with neighbors, as the appearance of new, more alien 'Others' prompts them to find common cause expressed in a new sense of inclusive identity.

One West Virginia cleric expressed the intensity with which Americans reacted to those who clung openly to their Europeans pasts. "We have yet some districts of the country," Joseph Doddrige wrote, "where the costume, cabins, and in some measure the household furniture of their ancestors, are still in use. The people of these districts are far behind their neighbors in every valuable endowment of human nature." East Kentuckian Marvin Gullett described the ethnic realities of "fighting back foreign intrusion" in some Appalachian communities. "When I was young sometimes they'd kill a foreigner. Most of the time the court stood for the Englishman more than they would for somebody else because the judge was usually Anglo-Saxon." (2)

Pressures to Speak English

Since linguistic difference stimulated bigotry, there was great pressure to speak English. Because of their Scots-Gaelic dialect [also termed Hiberno-English], the Scotch-Irish could be easily identified as "so linguistically alien. . . as to provoke suspicion and contempt." Even after the Revolutionary War, second-generation offspring and new emigrants were stigmatized as speakers of the "less-civilized Ulster Scots" of Irish and Scottish commoners that "Yankees found almost unintelligible." When visiting present-day counties of southwestern Virginia and West Virginia in the 1820s, British elite Anne Royall ridiculed linguistic remnants of Hiberno-English. "Their dialect sets orthography at defiance," she wrote, "and is with difficulty understood." Ethnocentrically, she added that "nearly the whole of the English language is so mangled and mutilated by them, that it is hardly known to be such." In similar fashion in the 1840s, a visiting Episcopalian Bishop documented the persistence of Scots-Gaelic in northern Georgia, and he employed an old-country ethnic allusion to make clear his distaste for this cultural remnant. "Many of these up country crackers," he observed, "talk almost as bad a dialect as your genuine Cockney Yorkshireman." William Pierce wrote home that there were "many Welshmen" in the area of Charlottesville in the 1850s, but there were still no Congregational churches, and they "had not heard a sermon in Welsh in ten years." Another emigrant complained that "the Welsh language has no prospect of success in this country." Germans were not only alienated by language from English-speaking ethnic groups, but they were also separated by dialects from each other. In order to communicate across ethnic lines, the Germans of the Shenandoah Valley developed a trade jargon called "Valley Dutch," while retaining their individual dialects in their homes, churches, and small neighborhoods. According to one German emigrant, speaking English "grieved the old people, who cannot give up the energetic language of their sires. . . nor the plain homespun dress of old times, nor see their children give them up without sorrowing for the degeneracy of their race." (3)

Linguistic difference was viewed by acculturated Americans as a "defect" that could limit the individual's progress. From the vantage point of English settlers, emigrants "speaking the same language with [them], and having no irreconcilable peculiarities in manner or modes of living [we]re more assimilated to the natives." Because dialect retention restricted emigrants to their own small ethnic in-group, linguistic assimilation was rapid. Evan Davis wrote to his European family that he "ha[d] great respect for" his indigenous language," but he had "not written or spoken it in twenty years." In similar fashion, Henry Davies communicated to his family in Wales:

It is a sad fact that hundreds of our countrymen, after emigrating from the land of their fathers, not only lose the love of their country but also their religiousness. The chief reasons for this is that many emigrate without knowing very much English. They go to live among the Americans where they do not hear a word of their mother tongue. They soon have enough English for general conversation and trade, but everyone knows that one must have a good knowledge of the language before one can understand the sermons.

Germans fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War in the Kanawha Valley. One soldier observed in his diary: "Ofttimes one of our German soldiers could be seen leaning on his rifle, listening to the sounds of his mother tongue as they were wafted over from the enemy's camp." (4)

Migration and Relocation

Another significant process which speeded assimilation was frequent demographic shifting which prevented geographical concentration of ethnic groups. Because of the migration of younger members, a group might not retain a large enough intergenerational population for its collective memory to persist. Since most relocated to an area that did not have a critical mass of their "own kind," such mobility required them to adjust to the dominant cultural patterns of their new spaces. On the one hand, a majority of emigrants to Appalachian frontiers had been in the U.S. longer than a decade, and there were few foreign-born males by 1820. On the other hand, isolation or community stasis were far less characteristic of antebellum white Appalachians than frequent mobilization across county and state boundaries. There were two causes for such demographic shifts: (a) the desire of the poor to acquire land and employment and (b) the search by more prosperous settlers for new investments. For this reason, about 15 percent of wealthier and middle-class farm owners migrated southward and westward out of Appalachia. However, the most mobile Appalachians were the landless poor and working-class households who represented three-fifths to two-thirds of the whites on the Appalachian frontier. These households frequently moved in search of annual tenancy or sharecropping arrangements or in hopes of locating affordable land. (5)

Given the frequent relocations of white Appalachians and the repeated cycles of in-migration and out-migration during the antebellum period, it is historically impossible that a homogeneous white ethnic group could have been "frozen in time" in the "Rip Van Winkle sleep" that Berea College's President Frost postulated in 1899. Moreover, there simply was too much in-migration and out-migration for ethnic homogeneity or cultural stasis to have occurred. For example, the centers of Scotch-Irish settlement shifted further and further west in successive eras. Thus, the Scotch-Irish presence diminished over time due to the group's out-migration and due to the in-migration of other ethnic groups. By 1860, a sizeable proportion of each of the white ethnic groups had emigrated from Southern Appalachia to populate Midwestern and southwestern areas. Even if an Appalachian folk culture grounded in "traditions, values and attitudes that existed when the area was first settled" were somehow miraculously preserved into the twentieth century, that new cultural hybrid would necessarily have been syncretized from several white and nonwhite ethnic groups. (6)

Economic Pressures toward Assimilation

There were also significant economic pressures toward assimilation, for ethnoreligious conflicts could disrupt capitalist institutions and make business and trade less profitable. In order to generate their survival needs, ethnic group members quite often had to cooperate with outsiders about whom they held prejudices. Indeed, economic arenas threaten actors with sanctions, with exclusion, and with loss of profits if they do not prioritize business affairs over personal ethnic identity. The need to make a living by holding jobs or by engaging in trade pushed groups to acculturate toward British customs. Even though the eighteenth-century Scotch-Irish Opequon settlement was "strongly ethnocentric, preferring to marry, convey land and worship within their own community," these Presbyterians routinely engaged in trade and financial dealings with German and English neighbors. Even after he had acquired considerable wealth, James Patton remained sensitive to prejudices toward Scotch-Irish immigrants, and he tried not to "incite resentment" from other ethnic groups who might damage his business. Several years after he had established his North Carolina home and enterprises in Wilkes and Buncombe Counties, Patton advised his new wife:

it would be imprudent for myself and her to appear at Church and other public places in superfluous dress, or to appear at any time above our neighbors. . . . [M]y principal reason was, that as we were just starting in the world, and were dependent on the public for our success, it might have an improper influence on their minds, and excite prejudices very much against our own interests.

Even though frontier Scotch-Irish and Germans "maintained strict separation in the institutions of family, marriage, land and religion, local trade was common, providing the single greatest vehicle for exchange between the ethnic groups." Similarly, first and second-generation western Maryland Germans adhered to their ethnic customs only "when such behavior was economically viable." In ethnically-mixed work crews, there was often substantial "working-class unity" against wage and employment inequities. (7)

Improved living conditions and liberation from the kinds of economic oppression that characterized their European past also encouraged assimilation. After emigrating to the U.S. in 1801 and experiencing better living conditions than he had ever known in Europe, Samuel Jenkins bragged to his European kin: "I am a citizen of the most wonderful country in the world." Joshua Jones had successfully established himself as a blacksmith, so he wrote home to Europe "a great number of our fellow countrymen are suffering in poverty while we. . . are well off." Richard Pugh informed his family that he "would not for a considerable sum return" to Europe. "The tax-gatherer only calls once a year in this country," he commented, "and then it is only a trifle." After two decades in the U.S., a son wrote to his parents in Wales a letter which encapsulated the new patriotism of many immigrants:

You urge me to come back to the Old Country but there is no likelihood of my doing that very soon for my adopted country is better than the land of my birth and if only you had the heart to come here twenty years ago you would have seen and proved the excellence of the country and we would have been parents and children together. I prefer to say like the Yankees and in their language too: Come from every nation and come from every way.

In short, ethnically-diverse Appalachians shared in common the local and world capitalist economy and its constraints. Congregationalist minister D.S. Davies described the fast pace at which immigrants assimilated in the face of economic benefits.

As Welsh settlements in this strange land are weaker than the English they give their wealth, support, and intelligence to further English causes. . . . In addition the English have the extra strength of the children of Welsh emigrants. The greater part of the first generation and all of the second generation are American-born and lost to Wales. There are some. . . who are ashamed to acknowledge that they are Welsh. . . . The people run after English things although, while doing it [English-Americans] read the Welsh people and Welsh culture lower and lower.  (8)

Pressures toward Religious Assimilation

Given the intensity of ethnoreligious conflict, how did the diverse denominations assimilate so fully that a majority of Appalachian church adherents- like all U.S. Caucasians- were Methodists and Baptists by 1850? The first explanation is that, like the entire United States, a majority of Appalachians were unchurched. In the 1770s, only about 10 percent of the population of the Southern colonies were church members, reflecting the lack of European denominational affiliation of a majority of these settlers. Once they were in the U.S., other factors operated to keep emigrants unchurched. Because of various church fees in the eighteenth century, poor emigrants were "quite indifferent" to church enrollment. Lack of education, class biases, and historical animosities toward European sects also deterred new ties to Appalachian denominations. In 1790, only 5 percent of the U.S. population were church members, denominational adherence rising to only one-third of citizens by 1850. (9)

Many whites remained unaffiliated because churches could generate counter-productive schisms in small communities. In their attempts to regulate the morality of residents in their vicinity-- in other words, their tendencies to infringe upon the religious liberty of neighbors-- sects created the basis for deep community divides. In the records of one "church court," punishments were meted out to citizens for swearing, breach of Sabbath, and adultery. Persons living in an Anglican parish were required to seek permission to travel out of the province, and they were assigned to work on roads or river maintenance. Some churches went so far as to bind-out the children of parents who were assessed "not Christian-like enough." Anglican clerics often tried to legislate the activities of the unchurched and of other sects. For instance, Charles Woodmason sought unsuccessfully to have local Scotch-Irish magistrates bring charges against settlers who continued their routine labors and social activities and, thereby, expressed "open profanation of the Lords Day." To complicate matters, some churches fined service attendees for inappropriate dress, such as the homespun cotton, flax, and linsey-woolsey typical of the attire of the working classes. Even moral regulation of church adherents could lead to hostilities among neighbors. Frontier Baptist churches set strict standards about "female decency," and women could be expelled for improper attire. In 1808, a Scott County, Virginia, congregation "tried a woman who had come to church while pregnant," and she was "excluded from their fellowship" and stigmatized in the community. The methods of east Tennessee's Cades Cove Baptists provide a sense of the degree to which acting as moral regulators in a community might lead to permanent rifts that could be dysfunctional for a community's political decision-making and its economic growth.

Meeting only once a month, usually on the fourth Saturday and following Sunday, the congregation collectively assumed responsibility for church discipline. . . . In the Baptist church every member assumed these duties and did not rely on church officials to keep an eye on the flock, as did the Methodists. . . . Any member of the church might bring a particular charge against another member, or charges might be introduced against a member whose offense was exposed through "public clamor." The church then, according to scriptural injunctions, voted to send an elder or deacon to confront the offending member and request him [or her] to answer the charges before the entire congregation.  (10)

It was not just lack of past denominational ties or local antagonisms which deterred church affiliations, for there were several factors which caused a lack of religious diversity in many communities. Even though the Second Great Awakening between 1800 and 1830 coincided with rapid resettlement of Southern Appalachia, there was a severe shortage of churches and ministers throughout the region. In 1793, east Kentucky churches required member subscriptions, causing all but a few emigrees to be excluded. There was neither an Episcopal nor a Presbyterian minister, only two Baptist churches, and the few Methodists "worship[ped] in private homes." Church buildings and clergy salaries were expensive, but most of the arriving settlers to Southern Appalachia were impoverished. The Anglicans subsidized public tax entitlements for the established church with member charges, such as pew purchases and fees for weddings, baptizing, communions, and funerals. It was not unusual for congregations to draw much of their fiscal security from slaveholders. In southwestern Virginia, one Presbyterian minister reported that several of his members "owned a number of slaves, who were hired out annually, and the proceeds applied to pay the salary of the pastor." The other sects, however, could not derive their local financial support from such sources. In 1840 (two years after settlers poured into lands from which the Cherokees had been forcibly removed), a traveling cleric found the northern Georgia church "in horrid bad order," with "35 panes of glass out of the lower windows." One local female resident observed that northern Georgia churches were "few and far between," so people could "not hear preaching without traveling twenty, thirty or forty miles" to attend service at any denomination that was available. (11)

In the context of such scarcities, assimilation began almost immediately, as denominations merged services and shared buildings. Hardships demanded accommodation, and compromise about cultural markers of ethnicity were adjusted to the circumstances, even put aside when it became impossible to sustain them.

Ethnic identities are only expressed in contexts and at times when contact with others is an issue. . . . it only 'appears' when individuals and groups need to be conscious of their ethnicity and to manifest it in action. . . . [E]thnic identity is constantly generated and regenerated at the points of contact between more than one society. . . [B]ecause the societies involved, and the patterns of their interaction, are constantly changing through time, then the manifestations of ethnicity are constantly shifting. . . . [T][here is often a considerable gap between the ways such identities portray themselves in terms of boundaries and membership, and the actual experiences of people involved.

As one Anglican clergyman traveled in the western Carolinas in the late eighteenth century, he typically preached to religiously diverse groups of "Baptists, Quakers, and a mix'd Multitude" or to ethnically and racially-mixed audiences that were of "various degrees [classes], Countries, Complexions, and Denominations." In 1803, an itinerant Lutheran missionary preached "to large and attentive congregations" of non-Lutherans in Appalachian counties of east Tennessee and South Carolina. In 1809, a western North Carolina minister reported that the shortage of educated clergy was leading to assimilation, for "vacant" Presbyterian congregations: "employ[ed] preachers of other denominations." By the late 1830s in southwestern North Carolina, the absence of qualified Presbyterian clergy caused so many Scotch-Irish families to join Baptist and Methodist congregations that there remained only seven Presbyterian churches serving fewer than 300 members. Like the Presbyterians, Episcopalians shifted to Baptist churches when they moved to areas where their denomination was not established. After the Revolutionary War, one clergyman complained that wealthier migrants to Kentucky and Tennessee were "lost forever" because they "never heard the voice of a clergyman of their own [Episcopal] Church, but they heard those of every other denomination." (12)

Ethnoreligious assimilation was also speeded by the presence of Northern missionaries. One minister claimed that twenty "Stragling Preachers" had been sent to western North Carolina "from Pennsylvania and New England" to proselytize for the Baptists, Methodists, and Quakers. Moreover, there were greater numbers of Baptists and Methodists on the Appalachian frontiers of Kentucky and Tennessee because greater numbers of them had migrated to escape the taxation and religious restrictions of Virginia's established Anglican church. Because religious marginalization was costly to members of sects which were persecuted, many adherents abandoned their traditional faiths. Because of their small numbers, Shenandoah Valley Brethren and Mennonites coalesced with Methodists to hold camp meetings and interdenominational revivals, like a Berkeley County, West Virginia gathering which attracted more than 4,000. In similar fashion, the few Welsh Congregationalists and Dunkers merged with Baptist congregations. In addition, one-third to one-half of arriving Irish Catholics either became unchurched or joined Protestant churches. Following the national trend, intermarriage across Appalachian denominational lines further widened the ranks of the Baptists and Methodists. The journal of western Maryland's Ferry Hill Plantation provides a glimpse at the degree to which inter-ethnic biases had relaxed by the 1830s. The Episcopalian owner married a Presbyterian woman, and his children selected spouses who were Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, German Reformed and Dunker. The family routinely contributed funds toward the construction of all local churches, attended all nearby revivals, and traveled to interdenominational camp meetings. They entertained the ministers of nine different denominations in one year. In sharp contrast to nativist rhetoric of his times, the owner never recorded in his journal demeaning religious slurs toward any of the German sects, Presbyterians, Catholics, or Baptists represented among his ethnically-mixed free laborers. (13)

The class composition of Appalachian communities was also a central factor in the breakdown of intensive ethnoreligious conflict. Throughout the antebellum period, half or more of the region's whites were landless and poor, the vast majority of them illiterate. An Anglican minister complained that "the lower Class chuse to resort to" Baptists and Methodists "rather than hear a Well connected Discourse." As Finke and Stark have observed, "neither the Baptists nor the Methodists set forth their confessions in complex theological writing that required extensive instruction or teaching." According to Woodard:

the fact that Presbyterians considered it a mark of vulgarity not to be able to read or repeat the Shorter catechism in a time when half the people. . . were illiterate was sufficient to set them apart from the adherents of other denominations. The gentry and middle-class dominated the membership at a time when other denominations. . . were making great numerical gains. (14)

There was an economic chasm separating working-class sects from denominations that appealed primarily to educated elite and middle-class families who could afford pew payments and annual subscription fees. One antebellum commentator captured the significance of class differences to the rapid post-Revolutionary expansion of the Baptists and Methodists when he wrote:

There is somewhat of a connection between a 'free gospel' and 'free seats.' The system of renting pews in the house of God, or of selling them, is very deleterious to the spread of the Gospel.

In addition, denominations were sharply differentiated by the degree they were willing to engage in strategies meant "to push out into destitute regions, to break new ground, to urge upon the masses." Reliance on lay teachers, preachers, and missionaries, circuit riding ministers, revivals, and camp meetings allowed the Baptists and Methodists to capture great numbers of the illiterate, the unchurched, the poor, and those adherents to competing sects who had no church or minister in the geographical area. In sharp contrast, Anglicans and Presbyterians pushed for local laws to prohibit camp meetings and to fine or jail the leaders. After Presbyterian ministers organized a large interdenominational revival in Kentucky, church leaders expelled them and established a policy against camp meetings. By 1850, such charismatic methods had helped the Methodists and Baptists grow into the two largest denominations in the United States and in Southern Appalachia. Appalachian trends toward ethnoreligious assimilation directly paralleled the changes happening nationally. Between 1800 and 1840, the Baptists and Methodists transformed their denominations from "loosely fellowshipping zealous Separatists" into "politically active, nationally visible and tightly articulated denominations." (15)

Assimilation toward Racial Solidarity

Because the evolution of the U.S. national identity was fueled by distinctions of color and race, European ethnic identities became far less central to white Appalachian women, as they were juxtaposed against the subordination of peoples of color. Toward the beginning of the eighteenth century, there emerged "a marked tendency to promote a pride of race among the members of every class of white people; to be white and also to be free, combined the distinction of liberty." The political, economic and cultural privileges associated with white skin and the need for solidarity against nonwhite races spurred emigrants to categorize themselves first in terms of race and secondarily in terms of their European ethnic heritage. On the Carolina frontier, an Anglican cleric pinpointed the need for white racial solidarity. "We have an Internal Enemy," he warned, "Not less than 100M [100,000] Africans below us (and more are daily importing). Over these We ought to keep a very watchful Eye, lest they surprise us in an Hour when We are not aware." The passage of a 1790 federal law cemented the unification of the new white American race by closing citizenship to all who were not Caucasian. Free white identity distanced emigrants from the low status of African-Americans and Native Americans, and "race became the primary badge of status." The privilege of U.S. citizenship:

carried with it a status entirely new to the newcomers; the moment they set foot on U.S. soil, however lowly their social status might otherwise be, they were endowed with all the immunities, rights and privileges of "American whites." By the same token they were explicitly enrolled in the system of racial oppression of all African-Americans. (16)

In his abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, Frederick Douglass commented at length upon the inability of white Americans from oppressed Irish heritage to align themselves with the plight of African-American slaves. "Passage to the United States," he wrote:

seems to produce the same effect upon the exile of Erin as the eating of the forbidden fruit did upon Adam and Eve. In the morning, they were pure, loving, and innocent; in the evening guilty. . . . The Irish, who, at home, readily sympathize with the oppressed everywhere, are instantly taught when they step upon our soil to hate and despise the Negro.

Emigrants who did not quickly assimilate were excluded from membership in the white American race. While ethnic differentiation caused friction, to be a "white American" brought with it political, economic and cultural privileges for all Caucasian women, including the right to be a citizen, the right to own property, and the capacity to derive benefits from the social and economic status of one's husband or father. Moreover, white Appalachian women enjoyed Constitutional protection of their religious liberty, a freedom that was denied to indigenous and enslaved Appalachians. Culturally, the white mother's role was idealized as the appropriate sphere for women, but the same paternalistic system structurally assaulted the reproductive practices of Cherokee women who were viewed as immoral practitioners of gender freedoms that were denied to white women. Except for destitute females in county poor houses, white women retained the unquestioned right to be the legal parents of their offspring without forced removal of those children. In sharp contrast, the role of mother was neither idealized nor left unchallenged for enslaved Appalachian women. It was against this backdrop of white racial solidarity that Appalachians formulated their racism toward regional peoples of color.

As religious assimilation occurred over the early decades of the nineteenth century, attendance at mainstream Protestant churches would have diminished the ethnic divides among white Appalachian women. However, that majority of white females who acculturated toward English customs and took the dominant pro-slavery position would certainly not have shared sisterhood with members of persecuted ethnic minorities or with those women who engaged in abolitionist activism. (17) While all Southern Appalachian women were disadvantaged by the same paternalistic system, their degrees of privilege and of oppression within that system varied dramatically. By the time of the Civil War, a majority of white Appalachians had moved toward the national religious mainstream, but a minority of females would have been singled out by:

  • Marginalization and persecution of those ethnic minorities which adhered to pacifist, abolitionist, or pro-Indian stands,
  • Stigmatization of any Protestant sect which differentiated itself from the dominant congregations in its religious views and practices, especially when they departed from cultural ideals with respect to the public roles of women, and
  • Bigotry and discrimination toward Catholics and Jews.

An especially despised ethnic minority, such as Irish Catholics" were demeaned as "white negroes" as "culturally only a trifle ahead of Negroes." Takaki explains how Scotch-Irish and Irish emigrants evolved from stigmatized outsiders to become part of the white American race. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries:

the Irish were imaged as apelike and "a race of savages," at the same level of intelligence of blacks. . . . Stereotyped as ignorant and inferior, they were forced to occupy the bottom rungs of employment. In the South, they were even made to do the dirty and hazardous work that masters did not want to assign to their slaves. . . . Targets of nativist hatred toward them as outsiders, or foreigners, they sought to become insiders, or Americans, by claiming their membership as whites. A powerful way to transform their own identity from"Irish" to "American" was to attack blacks. Thus, blacks as the "other" served to facilitate the assimilation of Irish foreigners. (18)

On the one hand, class differences were probably far more significant than religious conflict in the daily lives of most white Appalachian women. Far more than religious status, class position determined a woman's life chances, living conditions, and degree to which her work would have been criminalized by court systems. Had women been enfranchised, for example, more than half of all white Appalachian females would still have been denied the vote and the right to hold public office (as were their husbands) because they were poor and landless. Consequently, all Protestant women or all women sharing the same ethnic heritage were not "sisters under the skin" who confronted the paternalistic system at the same junctures or who were repressed in the same ways or to the same degree. On the other hand, Euroamerican women shared a structurally privileged racial position, despite their religious diversity. They were all "white"Americans, and that racial membership provided them privileges denied to women of color. Racial inequalities quickly emerged as far more significant divisions among Southern Appalachians than the religious differences which separated whites.


1. 1818 emigrant handbook cited in Chickering, Immigration, p. 56.

2. Gomez, Exchanging Our Country Marks, p. 6. James, Atlantic Celts, p. 74. Doddridge, Notes, p. 294. Gullett Transcript, p. 17, ALC.

3. Irish Immigrants, p. 450. Drake, History, p. 36, inaccurately assumes that "the Scotch-Irish provided the language norm for the backcountry dialect." That notion is simply not supported by the frequent evidence of ethnic animosity toward Hiberno-English. Drake, History, p. 37, also incorrectly states that Germans who emigrated into the Valley of Virginia fairly quickly lost their indigenous dialects. Royall, Sketches, p. 123. Shippee, Bishop Whipple's Diary, p. 31. Conway, Welsh in America, pp. 306, 323. Wust, Virginia Germans, pp. 187-88. Rippley, German-Americans, 100-101. Howe, Historical Collections, p. 451.

4. Tucker, Valley of Shenandoah, p. 58. Conway, Welsh in America, pp. 87, 138. Rippley, German-Americans, p. 67.

5. Soltow, Men and Wealth, p. 13. Regarding land exhaustion and migration, see Gray, History of Agriculture, vol. 1, pp. 137-54. Regarding southern demographic shifts, see McClelland and Zeckhauser, Demographic Dimensions, pp. 6-7 and Barnhart, "Sources," pp. 55-60. Dunaway, First American Frontier, pp. 87-122. Regarding the frequent movement of Appalachian settlers, see Hsiung, Two Worlds, pp. 103-26. Regarding high population mobility of the poor in the rest of the U.S., see Katz, Shadow of the Poorhouse, p. 5.

6. Regarding folk society notions, see Frost, "Our Contemporary Ancestors," p. 311 and Wilhelm, "Appalachian Isolation," p. 88. Blethen and Wood, "Scotch-Irish Heritage," pp. 213-26. Gerlach, "Scotch-Irish Landscapes," pp. 146-51.

7. For an overview of assimilation theories, see Gordon, Assimilation, pp. 115-59; for an extensive discussion of pressures toward Anglo-conformity in the U.S., see pp. 84-114. Blethen and Wood, Ulster and North America, p. 18. Irish Immigrants, pp. 345-46. Hofstra, "Land, Ethnicity," p. 183. Mitchell, Appalachian Frontiers, pp. 96, 84.

8. Conway, Welsh in America, pp. 72, 109-10, 102, 111-12, 323.

9. Hill, Religion, p. 103. Regarding unchurched emigrants, see Irish Immigrants, p. 383, Finke and Stark, Churching of America, pp. 12, 27, 29, and Atkenson, "Why Accepted Estimates," p. 117. Atkenson, Church of Ireland, p. 164, argues convincingly that only one-quarter to one-third of Ulster citizens were Presbyterians while the majority were unchurched.

10. Chalkey, Chronicles, vol. 1, pp. 17-20. Hooker, Carolina Backcountry, pp. 43, 47, 49, 61, 88. Gaustad, Documentary History, p. 181. Dunn, Cades Cove, pp. 109-110.

11. Toulmin, Western Country, p. 70. Dunaway, First American Frontier, pp. 70, 75, 288-95. Thompson, Presbyterians, vol. 2, p. 337. Shippee, Bishop Whipple's Diary, p. 31. Burke, Reminiscences, p. 25.

12. James, Atlantic Celts, pp. 72-73. Hooker, Carolina Backcountry, pp. 22-24, 112-13. Wayland, Twenty-Five Chapters, pp. 386-87. Blethen and Wood, From Ulster, pp. 56-58. Doddridge, Notes, p. 116.

13. Hooker, Carolina Backcountry, p. 225. Perhaps interregional migration and the outreach of missionaries explains why Baptists had grown enough by the time of the Revolutionary War to be just about as large in numbers as the Presbyterians and the Anglicans; see Finke and Stark, Churching of America, pp. 7-12. Surprisingly, Quakers accounted for almost one of every ten Southern church adherents, but the Methodists were not much more visible than the Moravians. Hill, Religion, p. 102. Wayland, Twenty-Five Chapters, pp. 201-208. Armstrong and Armstrong, Baptists, pp. 83-85. Wust, Virginia Germans, p. 150. For a description of the assimilation of Dunkers, see Bowman, Brethren Society, pp. 53-56, 63-64, 84-85, 114, 342. Shaughnessy, Has the Immigrant, p. 233. Ferry Hill Plantation Journal, pp. xviii-xx, 8-10, 16-19, 24, 36, 38, 44, 47, 52-55, 58, 62, 131.

14. Dunaway, First American Frontier, pp. 288-95. Hooker, Carolina Backcountry, p. 20. Finke and Stark, Churching of America, p. 85. Woodard, "North Carolina," p. 226.

15. Finke and Stark, Churching of America, p. 79-83, 98-105. Goss, Statistical History, pp. 17, 31. Revivalism and camp meetings did NOT originate in Southern Appalachia, as some scholars have inaccurately claimed. In states where Appalachian counties are situated, the first great revivals and camp meetings were organized by Presbyterians in Logan and Bourbon Counties in Kentucky and in Tidewater counties of Virginia, spreading outward and southward from there. See Hood, "Kentucky," pp. 101-22. Nor were revivals and camp meetings peculiar to Appalachia, as some have claimed. As an indicator of the degree of nationwide religious assimilation, such outreach strategies were popular throughout the country, often occurring first in parts of New England; see McLoughlin, "Massive Civil Disobedience," pp 710-27. For explanations of the decline of Presbyterian adherence among the Scotch-Irish, see Irish Immigrants, pp. 303-305, 400-403, 413-14, 450. Sovine, "Traditionalism," p. 365.

16. Bruce, Social Life, p. 137-38. Hooker, Carolina Backcountry, p. 94. Ignatiev, How the Irish, p. 40. Nash, "Colonial Development," pp. 244-45. Allen, Invention of the White Race, p. 185.

17. For example, Laura Clay, daughter of east Kentucky slaveholder Cassius Clay was an anti-slavery and women's rights advocate; see Fuller, Laura Clay. An east Tennessee abolition activist before the Civil War, Elizabeth Meriwether became a feminist advocate in the late nineteenth century; see Berkeley, "Elizabeth Avery Meriwether," pp. 390-407.

18. The Liberator, 10 May 1853, 11 August 1854. McClintock, Imperial Leather, pp. 52-53. Washington, Journals, p. 45. Wust, Virginia Germans, p. 95. Takaki, History of Multicultural America, pp. 149-51.