Scottish Presbyterianism, with its robust theology, disciplined government by elders, and strict piety, would significantly influence America through the waves of Scots-Irish immigrants that became the backbone of the Revolutionary era. Descended from lowland Scots, the Ulster Scots had begun settlement in northern Ireland during the reign of James VI and I, eventually organizing themselves into presbyteries within the established Irish Anglican Church. The Scots-Irish were required to pay taxes to support the established church; only in America would they eventually be free to practice their Presbyterianism within the context of complete religious liberty. The great American Presbyterian pioneer was …
Dr. Donald Fortson is associate professor of church history at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, N.C. He is author of The Presbyterian Story: Origins and Progress of a Reformed Tradition.