The Great Migration

Those who are descendants of the original New England colonists, and even those who are simply interested in the early history of this country and the people who settled here, should be interested in this piece about New England’s Great Migration. Posted at the website, it contains some good basic information about the subject.

These days the early Puritan colonists are generally in bad repute, for obvious reasons. The political left despises the White Anglo-Saxon roots of this country, and tries to downplay those origins when they are not affirming the origin by disparaging those ‘dead old White males’. Others loathe Puritans because the name ‘Puritan’ has been distorted to mean simply ‘Christian bigot’ or ‘judgmental prude’. Lately some historians have tried to lay the blame for today’s problems at the feet of the Puritan New Englanders, and this line has been uncritically accepted by many people.

It’s often been alleged by those wanting to defame the early colonists that they were ‘the scum of England’. I’ve read in Internet comments that ‘the Puritans were run out of England’ because they were allegedly such an undesirable element. These statements are just wrong, and it needs to be pointed out by someone.

First of all, they were not the dregs of society, not beggars or charity cases; rather they were  mostly middle-class people, and educated people.

As to their reasons for coming to the New World, their reasons were not mercenary as with some later waves of newcomers expecting streets paved with gold. They came in order to practice their religion freely, whereas they faced persecution and sometimes imprisonment in England for their dissident religious views. And contrary to what their critics say, their views were not fanatical nor were they a threat to any but to those who wanted to enforce a certain form of religion.

The peak years of the Great Migration lasted just over ten years — from 1629 to 1640, years when the Puritan crisis in England reached its height. In 1629, King Charles I dissolved Parliament, thus preventing Puritan leaders from working within the system to effect change and leaving them vulnerable to persecution. The Massachusetts Bay Colony, chartered in the same year by a group of moderate Puritans, represented both a refuge and an opportunity for Puritans to establish a “Zion in the wilderness.” During the ten years that followed, over twenty thousand men, women, and children left England to settle permanently in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1640, when Parliament was reconvened, attention was redirected from the New World back to the old and migration to New England dropped sharply.”

As to their skills and qualifications:

Great Migration colonists shared other distinctive characteristics. New Englanders had a high level of literacy, perhaps nearly twice that of England as a whole. New Englanders were highly skilled; more than half of the settlers had been artisans or craftsmen. Only about seventeen percent came as servants, mostly as members of a household. In contrast, seventy-five percent of Virginia’s population arrived as servants. And in much greater proportion than the English population as a whole, New England settlers came from urban areas.

Unlike colonists of other regions, the Great Migration colonists were primarily middle class, and few were rich or poor.”

So much for the charges that they represented a class of undesirables who were expelled from their home country.

I have no ‘North vs. South’ axe to grind here; I am not interested in pitting one side against the other, ‘Yankee’ vs. Southron as in the case of many who discuss this subject. On one side of my ancestry I have Jamestown colonists, on the other, New England Puritan separatists who came here for religious reasons, primarily. I have no interest in caricaturing one side or the other. There are no doubt differences between the two groups of colonists, but those differences have been highly exaggerated in my lifetime, largely thanks to the bitter legacy of the War Between the States, manifesting in the Civil Rights coup of the 1950s-60s, and the festering social divides ever since.

For the record my sympathies and allegiances are decidedly Southern, when it comes to the issues that provoked the ‘Late Unpleasantness.’

The fact remains that the Puritans of New England and the Jamestown colonists were overwhelmingly English by blood and by culture. Both groups were overwhelmingly Protestant though the Anglican side was more ‘high church.’ The idea that the two groups were distinct peoples, different ethnic groups is an exaggeration. [See Kevin MacDonald’s discussion of the ethnic/genetic difference idea here]. Not all New Englanders were from East Anglia as David Hackett Fischer suggests. I know my New England ancestry very thoroughly, and they hailed from different regions of England, not just East Anglia. Not all my Southron ancestors came from the South or West of England either; a good few came from Yorkshire in the North, for example.

Oversimplifications and generalizations harm more than they help here.

But back to the much-maligned Puritans: they were a remarkably fertile and healthy population.

Another aspect of life in New England proved noteworthy: the remarkable health and longevity of the population. Many colonists lived to the age of seventy, and a substantial number lived to be eighty. Both male and female settlers in New England lived significantly longer than their English counterparts. This longevity is no doubt due to a variety of factors: dispersed settlement patterns, lack of epidemic disease, the healthful effects of a “little ice age,” clean air and water, possibly a better diet, and the original good health of most immigrants. Also, infant and childhood mortality rates were lower in New England, and the settlers produced large and healthy families — most having seven or more children. Accordingly, New England experienced  tremendous population growth within the lifetime of first generation settlers”

I can vouch for this in my family. New England as a region kept very complete records regarding births, deaths, causes of deaths, and more. There is a great deal of information out there to be found by those who have family ancestry there. In my own family tree there were a lot of long-lived people, hardy people, and they lived under very spartan conditions that would seem real hardships to us: extremes of climate living in drafty houses, scarcities of everyday necessities, the threat of Indian attacks, and the occasional deadly epidemic. Yet as the article says, they seemed to thrive and multiply in spite of that. In my family tree there were many couples with 6 or 8 children, sometimes more.

In that respect they were similar to the Southron side of my family; as they too were Christian people who saw children as a gift from God, family sizes were large. Early death was always a presence but widowed spouses usually remarried and had ‘blended’ families with the new spouse.

This was true in the wealthy families as often as in the middle-class families. My ‘planter’ class Southron ancestors had large families also.

The point about large family sizes and the great fertility of the early colonists is important, because modern-day propagandists tell us that this country ‘needed’ mass immigration to populate a big, empty continent. If that is the case, if immigration on that scale was necessary to the ‘Manifest Destiny’ mission, then we might have been better off without expanding over the whole continent. But with natural increase being what it was, the original-stock Americans might have eventually populated the whole continent without importing millions upon millions of incompatibles, thus leading to the ‘Proposition Nation’ Babel scenario of today.

It’s worth following the links at the Great Migration website. There is considerable reading material there.



America: a poem

O, who has not heard of the Northmen of yore,
How flew, like the sea-bird, their sails from the shore;
How westward, they stayed not till, breasting the brine,
They hailed Narragansett, the land of the vine!

Then the war-songs of Rollo, his pennon and glaive,
Were heard as the danced by the moon-lighted wave,
And their golden-haired wives bore them sons of the soil,
While raced with redskins their feud and turmoil.

And who has not seen, ‘mid the summer’s gay crowd,
That old pillared tower of their fortalice proud,
How stands solid proof of the sea chieftains’ reign
Ere came with Columbus those galleys of Spain!

Twas a claim for their kindred: an earnest of sway,
By the stout-hearted Cabot made good in its day;
Of the Cross of St. George, on the Chesapeake’s tide,
Where lovely Virginia arose like a bride.

Came the Pilgrims with Winthrop; and, saint of the West,
Came Robert of Jamestown, the brave and the blest;
Came Smith, the bold rover, and Rolfe – with his ring,
To wed sweet Matoaka, child of a king.

Undaunted they came, every peril to dare,
Of tribes fiercer far than the wold in his lair;
Of the wild irksome woods, where in ambush they lay;
Of their terror by night and their arrow by day.

And so where our capes cleave the ice of the poles,
Where grooves of the orange scent sea-coast and shoals,
Where the forward Atlantic uplifts its last crest,
Where the sun, when he sets, seeks the East from the West;

The clime that from ocean to ocean expands,
The fields to the snowdrifts that stretch from the sands,
The wilds they have conquered of maintain and plain;
Those Pilgrims have made them fair Freedom’s domain.

And the bread of dependence if proudly they spurned,
Twas the soul of the fathers that kindled and burned,
Twas the blood of old Saxon within them that ran;
They held – to be free is the birthright of man.

So oft the old lion, majestic of mane,
Sees cubs of his cave breaking loose from his reign;
Unmeet to be his if they braved not his eye,
He gave them the spirit his own defy.

Arthur Cleveland Coxe

Albion’s Seed, again

David Hackett Fischer’s book on Anglo-American origins continues to exercise inordinate influence on most discussions of American history and culture.

Of course the thesis of the book is that although the British Isles were the source of most of the colonists who settled this country (though Fischer, I think, unduly emphasizes other European colonists) there is not a unified culture nor a single people as the source of the American nation. There are, according to Fischer, several cultures which are at odds. From there, it’s an easy progression to making the claim that the South and the North, for example, constitute two distinct peoples, with their accompanying cultures — an  idea that has caught on for political reasons amongst some Southrons.

Other modern writers have used Fischer’s book as a jumping-off point for their own pet theories about the various “nations” contained within America. All this can only contribute to more dissension and animosity; some Southern nationalists find Fischer’s writings justification for a new-found hatred of “puritans” and Yankees generally. Some people, based on Fischer’s writings tend to blame not just those long-dead Puritans but Christians in general, or Protestants or Calvinists.

I have read Fischer’s book though it’s been some years since I waded through it.

This recent review of Albion’s Seed seems to emphasize many negative ‘facts’ about our colonist ancestors. Fischer, in my opinion, uses the usual post-modern, politically correct standards by which to judge the colonists. Once upon a time, historians actually did try to exercise some kind of objectivity in writing about history; no longer. Every history of America today seems to have to lean over backward to chastise the Southern colonists especially — the Cavalier class, specifically — for slavery/racism and elitism. Every history of today has to give blacks undeserved credit for some cultural accomplishment. For instance, did you know that the English spoken by my cavalier ancestors actually resembled so-called ”ebonics”, and that Elizabethan English sounded like African-American dialect?

1. Virginian cavalier speech patterns sound a lot like modern African-American dialects. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out why, but it’s strange to think of a 17th century British lord speaking what a modern ear would clearly recognize as Ebonics.

Really, how could Fischer or anyone else back up such a statement? Can we exhume an English lord (English, not British; the Union did not exist till the next century) and compare his speech to that of an ”African American”? Until then, Fischer is just talking through his hat, just making things up.

10. Our word “condescension” comes from a ritual attitude that leading Virginians were supposed to display to their inferiors. Originally condescension was supposed to be a polite way of showing respect those who were socially inferior to you; our modern use of the term probably says a lot about what Virginians actually did with it.

In a lot of ways, Virginia was the opposite of Massachusetts. Their homicide rate was sky-high, and people were actively encouraged to respond to slights against their honor with duels (for the rich) and violence (for the poor).

Fischer seems to have thrown in such examples of good old class-warfare propaganda. Jacobinism by any other name.

From yet another blog post on Fischer’s book:

Among Cavaliers and corporatists, there is no morality beyond might makes right. There is no law — and no honor — beyond their own desire to expand their own sphere of power. There is no equality, no justice, and no universal freedom as we understand it. Theirs is the ancient plantation mentality we Americans have spent over 220 hard, bloody years trying to put behind us. It’s an outdated social system that has no place in a modern technological society — yet, in almost every detail, it’s the very world our new corporate royalists want to drag us back to.

In the back of their minds, they’re just Virginia gentlemen, taking the liberties such gentlemen have always rightfully enjoyed at the expense of others. It’s true that we owe a handful of Cavalier gentlemen a tremendous debt for so clearly articulating the principles of American liberty during the Revolution. But we should also remember that when these first men asserted their God-given right to life, liberty, and happiness, they had no intention of sharing those blessings with anyone else.”

Oh, if only we could go back in time and share our superior wisdom with those benighted ignoramuses! Wouldn’t this world be perfect if only David Hackett Fischer and his fan club could enlighten us all.

This Biblical passage comes to mind:

And Job answered and said,
No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.”

Fischer’s book, I think, impresses people simply because it is so very long and so extensively footnoted and bibliography-ed. The sheer size and weight of the book intimidates people.

An old history prof/mentor of mine in college informed me, when I was a naive and idealistic history student, that all historians have some agenda, whether they are aware of it or not; nobody can be completely bias-free, but today even a pretense of objectivity and impartiality is missing. Fischer, though seemingly regarded as the Voice Of Authority on early American history now, is human like the rest of us, prone to his own biases (which seem to be the PC, egalitarian biases of our time) and also prone to human fallibility. I only wish that people would stop the uncritical acceptance of everything Fischer writes, as if he is the last word.

Similarly with lesser-known writers like Colin Woodward. Even many Southern readers skeptical of ‘Yankees’ still accept Woodward’s writings as absolutely true, and even very right-wing readers seem oblivious to the fact that Woodward is a liberal with a liberal’s presuppositions.

As always, my advice is to read mostly older sources. Today there are a good many old (and sound) books on history which are available online, free. Unfortunately our politically corrected public libraries are purging the old books and replacing them with inferior, dumbed down, ideologically correct ‘history’,which is invariably tainted by today’s PC shibboleths and cliches.

We should learn about the past from people of the past. Their books are still there to be found and used.

On Virginia colloquialisms

This article, from long-ago 1990, is about how the speech patterns and the folk-sayings and beliefs of Virginia reflect the English origins of the Virginia colony.

The writer of the article, Parke Rouse, uses as a reference a book called A Word-Book of Virginia Folk-Speech by Bennett Green, from 1899. I’ve perused the book, and it is to be found online, on among other places. The book does make for fascinating reading. especially if you are interested in history, folklore, language and Southern culture.

From Rouse’s article:

Occasionally around Tidewater, you’re apt to hear an elderly native use remnants of Shakespeare’s English, the language spoken by Virginia’s early settlers. If he’s “right tired” or “mighty afraid,” or if he “reckons” he’ll go to church, he’s using some of the currency of Shakespeare (1564-1616) and of the King James Bible (1611).”

Certainly, if you are conversant with the King James Bible and with old-fashioned (now-dying) Southern American English, you recognize the influence of the former on the latter, or more correctly, you recognize that they derive from the same culture and the same people.

And of course it’s obvious to anyone who knows Southern culture that many of the same time-honored expressions and idioms are common across the South. I heard many of the sayings and folk-beliefs growing up in Texas.

Ben Green spent his happiest years in compiling a book he published in 1899, “A Word-Book of Virginia Folk-Speech.” It has recently been reprinted and is used in college language courses.

Green’s thesis is that most Virginians learned language by imitating their parents rather than by reading books. He went to England’s rural counties and made notes of similarities between the words, pronunciations and colloquialisms he found there with those used on the Peninsula in his day.

English speech patterns remained strong in Tidewater in the 19th century. For example, Green spoke of a Williamsburg contractor, Humphrey Harwood, as “Umphrey Harrod” and pronounced many names in Old English fashion – Warick for Warwick, Burl for Burwell, Randuff for Randolph and Tolliver for Taliaferro.

Many of the old-stock Southrons in the rest of the South are familiar with the same idioms and folk-beliefs as those cited by Green as being Virginian, via England. That’s because many of the current White populations of the other Southern states are descendants of Virginian colonists, as are just about all of my ancestors. From Virginia they went to several other Southern states (then colonies) and eventually to Texas. During my childhood there, I heard many of these linguistic carry-overs from my older relatives, along with folk-sayings such as ”the devil’s beating his wife”, said when sunshine and rain occur simultaneously. Some of my Northern acquaintances said they had never heard that expression.

Sadly the old-fashioned Southern dialect is dying out and few people seem to notice it. The younger generations have little to no discernible Southern accent, and the younger the speaker,  the more ‘neutral’ is their speech. Young people from coast to coast in this country seem to speak the same sort of youth-dialect, which sounds more ‘Yankee’ or specifically West Coast. That’s incredibly sad to me; I loved the way the older generations spoke, and I enjoyed their colorful metaphors and way of expressing themselves. In another generation or two there will be no Southern accent or idioms, no surviving Southern folklore or traditions — and consequently our connections to England, our mother country, will be further obscured.

Actually we would need to be very optimistic to even assume that English of any sort will continue to be spoken in North America unless things change very soon.

The “special relationship”

From the England Calling blog:

 There is a special relationship between England and America but it is not the one beloved of politicians. The special  relationship is one of history and culture. American culture is an evolved Englishness, much added to superficially but  still remarkably and recognisably English.”

The quote above is from a piece on that blog entitled Ultimately the USA is the child of England: no England, no United States.

Obviously I agree with that sentiment, because that is the gist of what this blog is meant to impart, and it’s only necessary to do so (though it shouldn’t be) because the current view of history is one that tries to diminish or deny the English origins of America.

As to the “special relationship” between England (or the United Kingdom) and the USA, unfortunately that phrase has been invoked in recent years only to refer to some kind of ideological kinship or agreement on principles between the two countries. We heard it invoked by Tony Blair and George Bush during the early days of the Iraq War. For some of us, that whole episode is best not spoken of. But the quote at the top of this post is right: the ‘special relationship’ is one of history, language, and culture. I would add: at least at the inception of this country, a relationship of blood.

The current administration made quite a point, in its early days, of repudiating, in act if not in word, the ‘special relationship.’ And not surprisingly. As fewer and fewer people of English descent have any real power in any branch of government.

I know that there is a certain type of American who bristles at any mention of our owing a cultural or historical debt to England, and usually this is because the offended person was brought up with a skewed view of history in which the English were seen not as our cousins, our kinsmen, but as some kind of foreign occupying power, and as our oppressors, as enemies of ”freedom” and “liberty”. In fact our very conception of liberty is one that developed in England and was transplanted to this country.

The first ten amendments which form  the American Bill of Rights draw their inspiration from the English Bill of Rights granted by William of Orange. The  American Revolution was conducted by men whose whole thought was in the English political tradition.”

Another kind of American objects to the statement that America is the offspring of England by saying that ”this is a nation of immigrants and most of us are descended from immigrants from other countries, therefore we outnumber the descendants of the colonists” or ”more Germans (or Scots-Irish, depending on the objecting person’s ancestry) settled here than English people. Did you know German almost became our official language?” But there is an objective truth at stake here, and other ethnic groups tend to take it as personal attack if anyone cites the English roots of this country.

As for the ethnic makeup of early America, the writer says

The English were the numerically dominant settlers from the Jamestown settlement in 1607 until the Revolution. Moreover, and this is the vital matter, they were overwhelmingly the dominant settlers for the first one hundred years. Even in 1776 English descended settlers formed, according to the historical section of the American Bureau of Census, nearly sixty percent of the population and the majority of the rest of the white population was from the non-English parts of Britain.”

Yes, and natural increase alone, in the early days of the colonies up to independence, meant that the original stock had multiplied impressively, having very large families as a rule. They may have been few in number, those early colonists, but more arrived and population increased without the ”benefit” of mass immigration, which did not in fact happen until the 19th century on any scale.

I do encourage reading the whole blog piece linked above. In fact the blog England Calling is a very good resource for anyone who is interested in the theme of this blog, or even of the early history of America, and the England-America connection.

The beginning

The beginning:


The above is from the book Jamestown [1607-1907], A Sketch of the History and Present Condition of the Site of the First Permanent English settlement in America, written by Edward Hagaman Hall.

The second paragraph says something important: Jamestown, being the first permanent English settlement in America, became “the first successful planting of Anglo-Saxon civilization in the New World”, and the garden of our people’s infancy in the Western Hemisphere.”

Why is this important? Because of the fact that during the last century, after Hall’s book was published, new interpretations of American history began to appear in greater numbers, books which proposed alternate, ideologically-driven views of the origins of the European colonies, and ethnocentrically-driven theories meant to cloud the very story of the origins of Anglo-Saxon civilization in North America, diminishing the role of the English in the founding of this country. These alternate, counterculture views have grown more dominant in recent years, what with the popularity of multiculturalism, so that it has become necessary to re-assert what was for so long taken for granted: the idea that the United States of America originated with English colonists, and that American culture was derived solidly from Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Norman roots.

With this blog I hope to simply re-iterate what has been forgotten or purposely obscured and denied, and I intend to refer to neglected older sources, works which to my mind have more validity and credibility than the later 20th century writings which have too much of the taint of multiculturalism and its ”diverse and inclusive” dogma.

I will also touch on current events here and in other Anglosphere countries, as we all face the same existential threat, and as, in my view, we need to re-discover that we have common ground with our cousins across the world. We have all become demoralized by the constant drumbeat, telling us that we of the Anglosphere countries have ”no culture” or the slander that our forefathers were oppressors simply by virtue of having been so successful at exploration and conquest.

I hope to focus on Anglo-America but also our ancestral country, England, and our kindred in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and southern Africa.