The recent blog posts on the US Ambassador coming to Belfast seem to have worked - they have attracted attention and a few people have asked if this blog is becoming the Ulster-Scots version of Wikileaks!
The truth of course is that those postings were set exactly 100 years ago in 1912, although I tried to avoid making that too obvious. The launch of the Titanic and the signing of the Ulster Covenant were just two of the big events that year - the newspapers of early 1912 show that the Ambassador's visit to Belfast was another high-profile occasion, and one which further demonstrated the historic and cultural links with Scotland, and also with America.
It seems that he originally planned to be here on 2nd April, the day that Titanic would set sail from the shipyard. Here is the first press release for the event:
It was announced yesterday at a meeting of the Presbyterian Historical Society that the Hon Whitelaw Reid, United States ambassador in London, will deliver a lecture on ‘The Ulster Scot’ under the auspices of the Society in the Assembly Hall, Fisherwick Place, on 2nd or 3rd April next. The Hon Whitelaw Reid has been Ambassador to the Court of St James since 1905, and was Special Ambassador to Great Britain for the Queen’s Jubilee and the Coronation of Edward VII. Being of Scotch Covenanter descent, his remarks on the Ulster-Scot, and the Scotch-Irish pioneers in America, will appeal with special force to an Ulster audience. He is the author of several works on historical and economic subjects. He will be the guest of Sir William Crawford during his stay in Belfast.
- from the Northern Whig, 15 February 1912
Reid had first given the address in Edinburgh in November 1911 (at the Synod Hall) for the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution. (this was the same month that Glasgow singer-evangelist William MacEwan was in London making what are said to be the first-ever gospel recordings for Columbia Records). Reid's family roots were in County Tyrone - his grandfather was from near Cookstown and his grandmother from near Omagh. So it was natural that Whitelaw Reid should deliver the same lecture in Ulster.
(PS - I hear that there are now thoughts in some quarters to mark the centenary of Reid's visit).
Below is a graphic from Reid's unsuccessful Presidential campaign of 1893, when he ran for Vice-President alongside Benjamin Harrison, who was also of Ulster-Scots descent: