Thursday, May 30, 2019

Racism, Satire and Scotch-Irish awareness in 1950s Mississippi

“I do not believe God wants us to mix with the Scotch-Irish, else why did he put them off on a little island by themselves?”

I have never been to Mississippi. It connects Tennessee to the Gulf Coast, a long vertical strip just to the west of Alabama. Its external reputation has been forged in movies such as Mississippi Burning, creating an image of racist discrimination and violence.

This is a pretty eye-opening article, on, cataloguing an anti-racist initiative on campus of the University of Mississippi in the town of Oxford in the north of the state, in the 1950s. These events were a precursor to the campus riots of 1962 when the university enrolled James H Meredith as its first African-American student.

As a method to counter the 1950s campus racism, a group of people led by former US Marine and Korean War veteran Jean Morrison published a newspaper. Also involved was the university Baptist chaplain Will D. Campbell. In later years renowned Nobel Prize winning writer William Faulkner took inspiration from their actions.

Morrison could be outspoken, and he was itching to make a public statement on race. He decided to create a fictitious, satirical newspaper warning of the dangers of allowing the “Scotch-Irish” into proper society. Of course, many white Mississippians are of Scotch-Irish descent.
Their satirical strategy was to take the slurs that Black people endured, and apply them to Scotch-Irish people instead. It was a clever and shocking idea, to provoke a response from the racist whites.

Some editions of the newspaper, called The Nigble Papers, (a combination of a racial slur word and 'Bible') are online along with a later publication which reprinted its content called The Southern Reposure. The psychology at work is fascinating; and if you're familiar with the authentic anti-Scotch-Irish commentary from 1700s New England, the language used by Morrison in his razor-sharp satire is in some ways similar to what the first waves of Scotch-Irish faced when they first arrived in America.

Only two editions of The Nigble Papers were ever published. The episode shows the awareness of a Scotch-Irish identity was in 1950s America. It is very possible that Faulkner, Campbell and Morrison may themselves have been of Scotch-Irish descent, but they certainly understood that it was a meaningful, effective term and concept to be deployed.

The Nigble Reposure blog reproduces some extracts
Digital scanned editions are online here in the University's Archives and Special Collections, which is where the two examples below are from

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

"Christianity, North Carolina, the Mecklenburg Resolves and freedom" - Rev Mark H Creech

This article by Rev Mark H. Creech on is worth reading for those of you who are interested in the fusion of faith with ideas of liberty.

I've covered the Mecklenburg 1775 story here before, but this source by Rev Benjamin Morris (1810-1897), entitled Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States was published in 1864 and is online here.

“Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, who formed so large a proportion of the people of North Carolina, and moulded its religious and political character… The religious creed of these Christian immigrants formed a part of their politics so far as to lead them to decide that no law of human government ought to be tolerated in opposition to the expressed will of God. Their ideas of religious liberty have given a colouring to their political notions on all subjects – have been, indeed, the foundation of their political creed. The Bible was their text-book on all subjects of importance, and their resistance to tyrants was inspired by the free principles which it taught and enforced.”

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Judas Fires of Liverpool, 1963

I came upon this while looking for something else. Here is a BBC article from 2006

Monday, May 13, 2019

Ulster's three-dimensional language combination

Some very interesting observations here from Tom Paulin, from a 1983 Field Day publication I picked up recently, in which he clearly understands our linguistic complexities and combinations far better than most today - "three fully-fledged languages " –  I recall that he presented an excellent documentary for BBCNI about Ulster-Scots around 2003-ish.


Friday, May 10, 2019

Name that tune – The Scottish Breakway

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Son Volt - Ballymena

This EP was released by iconic alt-country band Son Volt last year. The title track 'Ballymena' is very interesting. I don't know of any other songs that mention the Steelboys/Hearts of Steel.

The rents have all risen, wages are low
If there’s wages to be found any more
There’s a challenge in the air to the powers that be
We’re Steelboys forever from now on

Tales of the troubles, sails against the tide
In the old songs of Ballymena
Tales of the troubles, sails against time
In the old songs of Ballymena

The gentry in the castles will hear the people’s words
There’s fire, the cause will not be stained
Days filled with hunger turn thoughts to America
In America we’ll live and celebrate

With the Hearts of Steel, we’re everyone you know
Without bread the castles will come down
Days filled with hunger turn thoughts to America
To America in the boats of Belfast town

Thursday, May 02, 2019

The Holestones of Ulster and Scotland

The top colour image is the Holestone near Doagh in south Antrim. The bottom black and white image is from near Kirkcowan in south west Scotland. Ancient stanes made by ancient folk. One who was fascinated by ancient traditions was historian and writer Sir Samuel Ferguson, whose grandfather lived at 'Standing Stone', ie the Antrim Holestone.