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Catalogue Ten, Part Four, Vol. III, The Ranching Catalogue, H-L



Once they had served their time and were freed—if they indeed survived—servants

found it difficult to establish themselves in the colonial economy. Unable to compete as free

labor in a system dominated by slavery, many went into the pirate trade, privateering fromNew-

foundland to Guiana, or they made their way to the edges of the colonial frontier, where they

might manage to obtain a few cattle which they ran on open range.

Forrest McDonald and Grady McWhiney, two Southern scholars who have studied the Celtic

influence on American development, observe that “The first and most important thing to know

about Celts in America is that they tended to settle in different areas from those settled by the

English and other Germanic peoples: by and large, the Celts went south, the English north.”


The pattern of settlement in NorthAmerica created socio-political and cultural foundations that

affect politics and culture even today. The Celts came to America first in the Scotch-Irish mi-

gration to the Philadelphia area, from which they headed into the backcountry where land was

available. From there they moved into the Carolinas and Georgia. Virtually none went to New

England because most ordinary families could not afford to locate there—some communities

even required letters of recommendation from aspiring settlers.


New England settlers were

largely from eastern and southern England, and shared many cultural traditions that were not

common to people living in other areas of Britain, Scotland, and Ireland.When New Englanders

spread west to settle, they moved across the Northern states, into the upper Midwest and even-

tually to Oregon andWashington.

Southerners, mostly Celtic in origin, moved west across the southern part of the continent,

and by 1850 the South was more than three-quarters Celtic.


This heavy concentration of Celtic

people left an imprint of language, social organization, and the traditional Celtic means of mak-

ing a living by raising cattle. By the time the Celts made their way to North America, their clan

system and Gaelic language had been eroded by British influences and were nearly gone. Their

cattle culture, however, was intact.

Cattle-raising had become a significant economic activity in Britain, and droving cattle to

market had become well established long before Celts and cattle ventured to North Amer-

ica. Scotland’s main product into the eighteenth century was cattle; by 1378 the Scots exported

45,000 hides annually. Cattle were driven from Highland pastures to the London market in

herds—as many as 320,000 passed through the market town of Carlisle in one year. In 1665, Ire-

land was shipping out more than 14,000 beef cattle a year, increasing to 72,200 in 1798 and, by

1818, 87,771. Besides live cattle, Ireland exported nearly 3 million barrels of beef between 1780

and 1800, along with thousands of pounds of tongues and tallow, and 6.5 million skins and hides.

The Irish did not plant potatoes or any other crops until the latter part of the eighteenth cen-

tury, and theWelsh had a pastoral economy until the nineteenth century when they began work-

ing as miners.When they moved to North America, they too brought along their cattle culture.

Although we do not think of Southerners as cattle herders, before the Civil War the value of

livestock in the South was greater than the value of all its cultivated crops combined.


One rea-

son we do not associate the Southern image with cattle tending may be because Southerners sel-

dom tended their animals. The Southern manner of livestock-raising mirrored the traditional

Celtic way: animals were never tended but were marked by ear-clipping or branded and allowed

to roam for their forage. Until the twentieth century, Southern land law allowed animals to range

freely, a practice that continued in those Western states that were settled by Southerners. “Free

range” meant that owners of planted crops had to fence


the animal; the animal owner had

no liability for its depredations. In fact, roaming livestock are still protected in many open-range

areas of the West; if a vehicle kills an animal in a roadway, the driver must reimburse the ani-

mal’s owner for the damages.

Allowing animals to graze freely was widespread in the areas settled by Scots, Irish, Welsh,

and Cornish immigrants. Animals roamed the backwoods as well as anyone’s landholdings they

chose. In the years before the CivilWar, between four and five million hogs and two million beef

cattle were rounded up off their ranges each autumn and driven to market, the animals walking

up to four hundred miles in some cases. The Southern “plain folk” were self-sufficient because