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After 250 years they have only the vaguest recollections of the nature of their British antecedents.In Ornamentalism David Cannadine makes the case that the British saw their Empire through the lens of class as much, or more than, race.Their’s was part of the founding culture of the United States, and it still leaves its stamp on our society in its politics and mores, for good or ill (that depends on your perspective! But one aspect of Scots-Irish identity is that to a great extent it has decoupled itself from any “Old Country” consciousness.
But another aspect which must be acknowledged is that the early American republic also saw the emergence of a white man’s republic, where implicit white identity gave way to the expansion of suffrage to non-property holding white males as a natural right, and the revocation of what suffrage existed for non-whites based on their racial character.
The Scots-Irish were a major part of this cultural evolution, being as they were generally part of the broad non-slave holding class in the South and Border States.
Though one can quibble with the magnitude of Cannadine’s argument, I think one must grant that it is part of the picture, if not the whole picture.
The importance of class in England, and more or less in Europe as a whole, is contrasted with its relatively lower salience in the United States. One can make a classic materialist argument that in a labor scarcity-land surplus regime which characterized the early American republic the ossified class systems of the Old World simply could not develop.
The poorest white was superior to the wealthiest non-white in the social culture of the United States in the 19th century. But today the elision of distinctions among white Americans without explicit ethnicity (e.g., Polish, Jewish, etc.), those whites whose Anglo-American heritage is part of the cultural DNA of this nation, results in the bracketing of all together as beneficiaries of white privilege.