The Ulster-Scots Language Society, formed to promote the Ulster-Scots language, our own hamely tongue

Ulster Sails West

In 1943, coinciding with the arrival of thousands of GIs in Ulster as part of the preUlster Sails Westparations for the invasion of Europe, W. F. Marshall published Ulster Sails West which chronicled the 18th-century Ulster-Scots emigration to North America. It described their crucial role in the American War of Independence and the formation and expansion the American republic that in the 1940s was on the threshold of becoming one of the emerging New World Order’s two global superpowers.

Marshall’s book reveals the extensive influence of the Ulster-Scots in ecclesiastical, educational, legal, political and agricultural spheres. Among those identified are Revd Francis Makemie, the father of American Presbyterianism; Cyrus McCormick, the inventor of the reaping machine; Samuel Morse, the pioneer of the electro-magnetic telegraph and the code which bears his name. Pre-eminent in the world of politics were Andrew Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant, 7th and 18th Presidents of the United States respectively.

This work was clearly pioneering and the product of much pain-staking research. The plethora of similar publications that have appeared over the years all stand enormously in Marshall’s debt. When James Webb, as senior senator for Virginia, wrote Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America, which traced the decisive role that people of Scots-Irish ancestry have played in American history and culture, he was following in Marshall’s footsteps. Marshall would have been perfectly happy with Webb’s assessment that it was the Ulster-Scots who provided the United States with a culture that "shaped the emotional fabric of the nation, defined America’s unique form of populist democracy, created a distinctively American musical style, and, through the power of its insistence on personal honor and adamant individualism, has become the definition of 'American' that others gravitate toward."