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Posts tagged “Paterson

The history of Paterson

The family name of Paterson originally began in Scotland centuries ago.  Paterson was one of the Scottish Highland clans that had specific tartans for dress as well as family crests, both used as identifiers for the clan.  “From time to time the surname was spelt Patterson, Paterson, Pattersen, Patteson, Pattison, Patison, and these changes in spelling occurred, sometimes even between father and son” (Patterson, 2005, para. 4).  For one reason or another, many Scottish migrated to Ireland and later to America.  Scottish immigrants provided a balance to the growing United States political system.

Scottish Americans are an ethnic group that has changed significantly the course of the United States.  Those of Scottish descent in early Anglo-America were associated with many negative connotations because of “political, cultural, linguistic, and social differences” (Ray, 2001, p. 2).  However, this ethnic group has mixed for centuries with other ethnic groups, resulting in the common misconception that Caucasian is an ethnic group.

As early as 1607, many Scots began migrating into Ireland because of economic difficulties in Scotland.  Those who made this migration were later termed “Scotch-Irish” or “Ulster Scots” (Betit, 1994, p. 1).  Many families that made the migration from Scotland to Ireland later immigrated to America.  Scottish American immigrants belonged to one of three classifications: Scotch-Irish, highland Scots, and lowland Scots.  Thousands of immigrants landed on American shores during the beginning years of America.  Although viewed as immigrants, there was definitely a Scottish influence during the colonization of America.

English Americans, or those from British descent, looked down on the first Scottish settlers.  However, this prejudice and segregation was only for a short time.  The Scottish people blended in easily because of strong work ethics and higher educations.  Segregation was minimal but existed.  English-Americans originally considered the beginning Scottish settlers as lower class.  In time, the Scots received recognition as hard workers with significant political attributes.

The English colonizers were mainly Democratic in the political process, leading to many similar visions and ideas with little or no opposing views.  However, when the Scottish immigrated, they were mainly Republican in the political process.  This separation caused some political strife and shows that the English and Scottish failed to agree on many subjects.  I believe the United States would have been a dramatically different place had the Scottish never immigrated.

The prejudice in the following years was because of actions by Scottish Americans.  Grudges from events in previous years were held and distanced the two cultures.  The Scots believed that the English had wronged them in the past, therefore showing signs of prejudice against the English (Ray, 2001).  This discrimination existed but was nowhere as harsh or prevalent as other prejudices in America.

Although Scottish people were immigrants, they were influential during the construction of America.  The American Revolutionary war was fought by a majority of Scotch-Irish rather than English-Americans.  Those of English descent had little inclination to seek freedom from the power of Britain’s monarchy.  “Conclusively, it was the Virginian patriots of Scottish origin who first articulated the demand for liberty and independence which brought freedom and democracy to the United States of America” (Henderson, 2001, p. 3).

Patrick Henry was the first and sixth Governor of Virginia as well as an iconic figure during the American Revolution.   Henry is most famously known for his patriotic quote “Give me liberty, or give me death” (Access Industries, 2004, p. 2).  To this day, Henry’s quote is a point of inspiration and dedication to the United States of America.  Henry was of Scottish descent.  The soldiers of the American Revolution believed in the same ideals as Henry, solidifying his place in history.

Similarly, many historical figures of America are of Scottish or Scotch-Irish descent.  Two of the original justices of the Supreme Court in 1789, John Blair and James Wilson, were of Scottish descent.  Andrew Carnegie, the Pittsburgh steel millionaire, was a Scottish immigrant.  Thomas Edison, who patented more than 1,000 inventions, was also of Scotch-Irish descent.  “Once the United States was formed, Scottish Americans continued to make great contributions. Nine of the first 13 Governors, all the members of the First American Cabinet, 11 US Presidents and 35 Supreme Court Justices had Scottish ancestry(Access Industries, 2004, para. 12).

I believe I culturally identify with both the Scottish ethnic group and the United States mainstream culture equally.  In my research, I have found many views and opinions of the Scottish Americans who I agree with.  Centuries of combining cultures has created America’s mainstream culture, of which I identify with also.  I believe that my ancestors who immigrated to America made a difficult choice, but one that I am thankful for.


Access Industries. (2004). Scottish influence on America. Retrieved from Web. 11 July 2010.

Betit, K.J. (1994). Colonial Scots-Irish immigrants: the Irish records. The Irish At Home and Abroad Journal of Irish Genealogy and Heritage, 2(1), N/A. Retrieved from Web. 11 July 2010.

Henderson, H.E. (2001). The Scots of Virginia: America’s greatest patriots. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Publishing. Retrieved from Web. 11 July 2010.

Patterson, C.D. (2005). Patterson Family Name. Retrieved from Web. 11 July 2010.

Ray, C. (2001, March 1). Highland heritage: Scottish Americans in the American South. University of North Carolina Press. Retrieved from Web. 11 July 2010.



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