Further proof that South Carolina Whites Thought of Themselves as Anglo Saxon Not Celtic

Pat Young

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Occasionally we see the claim that white Southerners were "Celts" and that this ethnic difference led to everything from adherence to slavery to the Confederate style of warfare to an ethnic conflict with the Anglo Saxons of the North. By Celtic, those who raise these claims usually mean people from the British Isles who were not English. Typically Irish, Scottish, and Welsh are described as the Celts. I don't want to argue about whether there is or is not such a being as a Celt. That goes way beyond the scope of this forum. Let us just use the description of who is a Celt for the purposes of this thread.

As I have posted elsewhere, most Celts lived in the North, but this is also not what I want to discuss. The question for me is whether white Southerners even considered themselves a Celtic people. I understand that there were many Southerners of Scottish origin or Scots-Irish origin. They typically were predominant in the mountain regions of the South, far from the centers of white power and wealth. While they made up a large number of people they were not culturally dominant even among whites.

I have repeatedly introduced evidence of Southern whites during and after the Civil War referring to themselves as English or Anglo Saxon. Today I was reading Reynolds' Dunning School Reconstruction in South Carolina from 1905 and found a further proof that at least in South Carolina, whites affirmed an Anglo Saxon consciousness.

According to Reynolds, whites in South Carolina organized a convention of delegates from around the state on November 6, 1867 in reaction to blacks being given the right to vote. This was not an ordinary indignation meeting. Its president was James Chestnut, former Confederate general, aide to President Davis, and husband of Mary Chestnut. One of the convention's vice presidents was Wade Hampton, Confederate general, one of the richest men in the South, and future governor and senator from South Carolina. Another vice president was former Gov. B.F. Perry.
 

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Pat Young

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The main aim of the convention is to prevent blacks from getting the right to vote and sit on juries, so here is a bit of the flavor of the text regarding the congressional mandate that black men be allowed to vote:

They disfranchise the white citizen and enfranchise the newly emancipated slave. The slave of yesterday, who knew no law but the will of the master, is today about to be invested with the control of the government. In all popular governments the two great sources of power may be traced, ( 1 ) to the exercise of the ballot, (2) to the franchise of the jury box. Invest any people with these two great powers, and they have at once the government of the country in their hands. By the Reconstruc tion acts of Congress these powers are conferred upon the negro — he can make and unmake the Constitution and the laws which he will administer according to the dictates of others or his own caprice.
 
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The convention of course says that whites love the blacks:

We, therefore, feeling the responsibility of the subject and the occasion, enter our most solemn protest against the policy of investing the negro with political rights. The black man is what God and nature and cir cumstances have made him. That he is not fit to be invested with these important rights may be no fault of his. But the fact is patent to all that the negro is utterly unfitted to exercise the highest functions of the citizen. The government of the country should not be permitted to pass from the hands of the white man into the hands of the negro. The enforcement of the Reconstruction acts by mil itary power under the guise of negro voters and negro conventions cannot lawfully reestablish civil government in South Carolina. It may for a time hold us in subjection to a quasi-civil government backed by military force, but it can do no more. As citizens of the United States we should not consent to live under negro supremacy, nor should we acquiesce in negro equality.
 

Pat Young

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Here is where it gets interesting. The whites don't say that they are merely asserting the interests of white South Carolinians, but of Anglo Saxons:

Not for ourselves only, but on behalf of the Anglo-Saxon race and blood in this country, do we protest against this subversion of the great social law, whereby an ignorant and depraved race is placed in power and influence above the virtuous, the educated and the refined. By these acts of Congress intelligence and virtue are put under foot, while ignorance and vice are lifted into power.
 

Pat Young

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Again in the conclusion, the South Carolinians argue from common Anglo Saxon racial identity for their rights to dominate blacks:

In the name, then, of humanity to both races — in the name of citizenship under the Constitution — in the name of a common history in the past — in the name of our Anglo-Saxon race and blood — in the name of the civilization of the nineteenth century — in the name of magnanimity and the noble instincts of manhood — in the name of God and nature — we protest against these Reconstruction acts as destructive to the peace of society, the prosperity of the country and the greatness and grandeur of our common future.
 
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:banghead: This makes my blood pressure spike! Not your post, Pat. Their comments. I just want to ask them to provide sources!!!

Perhaps they needed to read a little of the history of the Angles and the Saxons before they claimed them as their own.
 
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My grandmother Moore was very proud of her Celtic heritage and her Scots/Irish ancestry. She
was the granddaughter of a Confederate officer in the Army of Northern Virginia and she was
proud of his service to the cause that he believed in. It can be argued that Southerners are
less inclined to celebrate their Celtic heritage than their Northern counterparts who threw
the big St. Patrick's Day celebrations, wore the green and even formed street gangs in the larger
cities based upon their ethnicity but there were those like my grandmother who did not forget
where their ancestors came from and celebrated it with relish.

I believe a reason that Southerners of that era were not as big on celebrating their Celtic origins is
because they were not as directly connected to their roots of origin. Many of the Irish and Scots
that lived in the Northeast were recent immigrants to America who had not experienced several
generations of life in America like their Southern counterparts who had ancestors who could be
connected to the Jamestown colony in many cases. While it is true that Southerners are more
likely to have Anglo-Saxon roots (my heritage is probably at least 50% Anglo-Saxon as far as
genetic makeup) they were also less connected to their land of origin and more connected to the
region where they were living. Time and a new identity had faded the ties to the Old Country and
made them less passionate about the Celtic heritage they had and more inclined to accept the
dominant cultural of the region where they lived which happened to be the Anglo-Saxon one
in many cases especially as you got away from the Western and mountain areas of the region.

My response is not meant to augment the political arguments in this thread but to try
to explain why Southerners are less inclined to celebrate and some cases preserve
their Celtic heritage.
 
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#10
Celts in the ANV.
JEB Stuart
John McGruder
Jefferson Davis
Joseph Johnston
AS Johnston
Porter Alexander
Several generals Anderson

Early can be English or Irish
Jackson can be English or Scottish
Polk is Polish, originally
Johnston is Scottish
Alexander is Greek & Scottish

http://www.surnamedb.com

This is just a cursory search. So far, the only name I have found that is definitely English is Lee.
 

Pat Young

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My grandmother Moore was very proud of her Celtic heritage and her Scots/Irish ancestry. She
was the granddaughter of a Confederate officer in the Army of Northern Virginia and she was
proud of his service to the cause that he believed in. It can be argued that Southerners are
less inclined to celebrate their Celtic heritage than their Northern counterparts who threw
the big St. Patrick's Day celebrations, wore the green and even formed street gangs in the larger
cities based upon their ethnicity but there were those like my grandmother who did not forget
where their ancestors came from and celebrated it with relish.

I believe a reason that Southerners of that era were not as big on celebrating their Celtic origins is
because they were not as directly connected to their roots of origin. Many of the Irish and Scots
that lived in the Northeast were recent immigrants to America who had not experienced several
generations of life in America like their Southern counterparts who had ancestors who could be
connected to the Jamestown colony in many cases. While it is true that Southerners are more
likely to have Anglo-Saxon roots (my heritage is probably at least 50% Anglo-Saxon as far as
genetic makeup) they were also less connected to their land of origin and more connected to the
region where they were living. Time and a new identity had faded the ties to the Old Country and
made them less passionate about the Celtic heritage they had and more inclined to accept the
dominant cultural of the region where they lived which happened to be the Anglo-Saxon one
in many cases especially as you got away from the Western and mountain areas of the region.

My response is not meant to augment the political arguments in this thread but to try
to explain why Southerners are less inclined to celebrate and some cases preserve
their Celtic heritage.
Good points. I think it would be interesting for a grad student to look at how the idea that the South was Celtic and the North was English came about. Seemed to be a late 20th Century thing rather than something that Americans North or South thought about in 1860.

You do see some Southerners describe themselves as Cavaliers as opposed to New England Roundheads. But that is a distinction between rival groups of English.
 

Pat Young

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#13
Celts in the ANV.
JEB Stuart
John McGruder
Jefferson Davis
Joseph Johnston
AS Johnston
Porter Alexander
Several generals Anderson

Early can be English or Irish
Jackson can be English or Scottish
Polk is Polish, originally
Johnston is Scottish
Alexander is Greek & Scottish

http://www.surnamedb.com

This is just a cursory search. So far, the only name I have found that is definitely English is Lee.
There were plenty of people of at least some Irish or Scottish or Scots-Irish or Welsh heritage both North and South. George McClellan, for example.
 

Pat Young

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Here are a few more obvious ones who were not part of Irish or Scottish communities, but whose names exhibit some Celtic roots.

These are well-known non-immigrant leaders in the Union armies with Celtic names:
George McClellan
Irwin McDowel
Arthur McArthurt
Phil Sheridan
John McClernand
Alexander McCook
Dan McCook
James McPherson
 

Pat Young

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And, of course, there's Patrick Cleburne who was most definitely a Son of Erin.

Oops, he was with the Army of Tennessee. My fingers were faster than my eyes
in reading your reply.
Cleburne was an Irish immigrant, but 9 out of 10 Irish immigrants went to live in the North. So immigration numbers do not argue for the South being more Celtic than the North.

BTW, Celburne, unlike the other men named as Celtic on this page, did assert an Irish identity and was described as Irish by those who knew him in Arkansas.
 

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#17
Pat - my people (going back to the 1760's in Louisiana and Mississippi) are mostly French (Creole and Cajun) but I always had a nebulous understanding that that meant they were Gaelic and thus Celtic. True or untrue?

Whenever I go to mainstream Civil War reenactments, I see an enormous number of St Andrews crosses floating around the Confederate camps (along with some idiot playing the bagpipes) so clearly many modern white southerners identify as Celtic.
 

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Pat - my people (going back to the 1760's in Louisiana and Mississippi) are mostly French (Creole and Cajun) but I always had a nebulous understanding that that meant they were Gaelic and thus Celtic. True or untrue?

Whenever I go to mainstream Civil War reenactments, I see an enormous number of St Andrews crosses floating around the Confederate camps (along with some idiot playing the bagpipes) so clearly many modern white southerners identify as Celtic.
The word France comes from the word for the Franks. The Franks were Germans who conquered most of what is now France. It is true that in Roman times that area was called Gaul, but the Celts did not do so well against the Romans, the Norse (who conquered Normandy) and the Franks and other Germans. Brittany did preserve a "Celtic" culture, so perhaps that is where your family is from. Of course, if we are talking about heredity, I am sure everyone eventually mated with everyone else. The French are known for romance.
 
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#19
Pat - my people (going back to the 1760's in Louisiana and Mississippi) are mostly French (Creole and Cajun) but I always had a nebulous understanding that that meant they were Gaelic and thus Celtic. True or untrue?

Whenever I go to mainstream Civil War reenactments, I see an enormous number of St Andrews crosses floating around the Confederate camps (along with some idiot playing the bagpipes) so clearly many modern white southerners identify as Celtic.
As Pat pointed out, it depends on what part of France your family came from. The people of Brittany also play a type of bagpipe.
. And if you think bag pipes are annoying, you should hear 30 or 40 of these puppies

Here is some information about the Celts from Wikipedia:
The Celtic nations are territories in Northern and Western Europe where Celtic languages or cultural traits have survived.[1] The term "nation" is used in its original sense to mean a people who share a common identity and culture and are identified with a traditional territory. It is not synonymous with "sovereign state".

The six territories recognised as Celtic nations are Brittany (Breizh), Cornwall (Kernow), Wales (Cymru), Scotland (Alba), Ireland (Éire), and the Isle of Man (Mannin).[1][2] Each has a Celtic language that is either still spoken or was spoken into modern times.[3]

Territories in north-western Iberia—particularly Galicia, Northern Portugal and Asturias; sometimes referred to as Gallaecia, which includes North-Central Portugal and Northern Spain—are sometimes included due to their culture and history.[4] Unlike the others, however, no Celtic language has been spoken there in modern times.[
 

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Good points. I think it would be interesting for a grad student to look at how the idea that the South was Celtic and the North was English came about. Seemed to be a late 20th Century thing rather than something that Americans North or South thought about in 1860.

You do see some Southerners describe themselves as Cavaliers as opposed to New England Roundheads. But that is a distinction between rival groups of English.
I've read a short memoir by a woman in Alabama who was a child in the Civil War, that described how her family was descended from Cavaliers. Her description seemed quite like fantasy when I was reading it, something that might have come directly from a novel. I'll look and see if I can find the copy of her narrative, which I saved somewhere on my computer.
 



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