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FROM INHERITED CREED
“WHEN I WAS A CIIILD_-"
The story I am to tell in these pages is far from being that of a comprehensive, or general, autobiography. When the wish to tell it first came, I did not think of carrying it much beyond a recollection of the immediate influences which induced a serious questioning of my inberited creed, together with an account of the processes of my intellectual release, and a review of some of the more important of the experiences which followed the gaining of a personal faith.
But, as I thought further, earlier memories, reminders of my childhood, arose and persistently pressed upon attention. These early memories are of but little moment in themselves, I know; but I have decided to give them place here. Some familiarity with my surroundings when I was a child, and some knowledge of what manner of boy I was, will do a good deal, I think, towards giving a better understanding to my friends of what came to pass in the later years. To this extent my story has become an auto-biography of my childhood and youth.
Environment in Childhood.
Much pertinent information about the influences affecting me as a child may be drawn from the history and the character to the community in which I was born, May 8th, 1843.
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, towards the middle of the past century had a population of nearly five thousand. Our people were an industrious and prosperous folk ;the town having considerable importance from its being a county seat, -the official and commercial center of a large and productive farming district. The town was the site, too, of soine small special manufacturing industries.
Particularly connected with these “Memories" is the fact that our community was composed chiefly of descendants of so-called “Scotch-Irish ” immigrants, who, towards the middle of the Eighteenth Century, had fled from their home in North Ireland to America, for the sake of religious and political freedom.
a. “ The Scotch Irish."-In the “ Historical Sketch of Franklin County,”—but much more than a "sketch," — written by my father, I. H. McCauley, 1878, I read ;
“ The term “ Scotch-Irish " originated in this wise. In the time of James I. of England, who was a Scotch Presbyterian, the Irish Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell conspired against his government, were outlawed, and their estates seized by the Crown. King James divided these lands into small tracts and gave them to persons from his own country,” (Scotland), “because they were Protestants, on the condition that they should cross over into Ireland
and locate upon them. A second insurrection soon after gave occasion for another large forfeiture, and nearly six counties in the province of Ulster were confiscated
The King was
& Zealous sectarian, and his primary object was . . to repeople the country with those who, he knew, would be loyal.
Having the power of the Government to protect them, the inducements offered to the industrious Scotch could not be resisted. Thousands went over. -
These were the first Protestants introduced into Ireland. They at once secured the ascendancy in the counties, .. and their descendants have maintained that ascendancy to the present day against the efforts of the Government Church on the one hand and the Romanists on the other. They did not intermarry with the Irish. The Scotch were - - Presbyterian in religion ; the Irish were Roman Catholic. ... The races are as distinct in Ireland to-day, after a lapse of two hundred and fifty years as when the Scotch first crossed over."
“In after times persecutions fell upon their descendants under Catholic governments, - - and large numbers emigrated and settled in New Jersey, Maryland and North Carolina. - . . In September 1736, alone, one thousand families sailed from Belfast; - - Most of them came to the eastern and middle counties of Pennsylvania. They brought with them a hatred of oppression and a love of freedom .. that served much to give that independent tone to the sentiments of our people which prevailed in their controversies with their bome and foreign governments, years before they seriously thought of independence. They filled up this valley.” (Cuniberland, Pennsylvania). They cut down its forests, and brought its fair lands under cultivation. They fought the sayage and stood as a wall of fire against his further forays eastward.
Between 1771 and 1773, over twenty-five thousand of them (all Presbyterians) came hither, driven from the places of their birth by the rapacity of their landlords.
The “Scotch Irish,” in the struggle for national independence, were ever to be found on the side of the colonies. A tory was unheard of among them. Pennsylvania owes much of what she is to-day to the
many of this race that settled within her borders. They were our military leaders, and they were among our most prominent law-makers in the earliest days of the colony, and through and after - - - the struggle for freedom and human rights. They helped to make our constitutions and to frame our fundamental laws. They furnished the Nation with five President" ;-(six, at the date of the writing of these “ Memories,"-Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, Arthur, McKinley and Wilson ; also, probably, Grant and Hayes, who were of Scotch ancestry) "and our State with seven Governors. Many United States Senators" have come from them; also “Congressmen, Judges and others eminent in all the vocations of life.
None of the many diverse nationalities of which this great people is composed did more for the national good and prosperity than those known as the “Scotch-Irish " and their descendants."
b. Other Chambersburg People.- Associated with the “Scotch Irish " in Chambersburg were, in my childhood, many people whose ancestors, mostly Germans in descent, had been won, like the Scotch, by William Penn's invitation to come to his Colony and enjoy “free worship, freedom to choose their rulers and to make their own la ws."
For some time, after the year 1755, especial care was exercised by the Pennsylvania Proprietaries to segregate the incoming Scotch and Germans; sending the Scotch to the Cumberland Valley and the Germans to York County. In Lancaster County, the two peoples had become seriously antagonistic. However, in time, the needs of business and other causes brought the peoples more or less together, amicably. Many intermarriages took place and numerous business partnerships were formed as years passed.
c. Religious Surroundings.- Most notable in the personal relationships of my childhood is the fact that, then, the people of Chambersburg were still under the dominance
of the specific religious faiths and customs of their forefathers. Scotch Presbyterianism, more than any other influence, was uppermost in the town's social circles, and in its religious and educational institutions. For the rest, followers of Luther and his German fellow reformers, together with some disciples of Wesley, guided the religious beliefs and ways of the people. Of course, as in every considerable gathering of human beings, the community was not religious throughout. “Unregenerate "human life,
- plenty of it,—was there, too ; and, among the “professors of religion," there was often evident more or less " backsliding,” indifference and “worldliness.”
"worldliness.” But I cannot remember any one who made public question of the supremacy, over man's life, of some form of Christian faith, and of the necessity for its acceptance by each individual for the sake of his real welfare in this world and of his happiness" in the world to come.” It can be said with truth that my native town, in my childhood, was under the undisputed control of organized Christianity ; especially of the Calvinism of Presbyterian Scotland.
Personally, this fact meant much. It was my spiritual and intellectual inheritance, having special influence in the initial shaping of my character and in the beginnings of my personal growth. A deeply religious atmosphere pervaded my own home, and, generally, the homes of my school mates. Domestic worship, daily, and regular attendance upon religious services, not only on Sundays but on the evenings of some other days of the week, besides Sunday School sessions for me, were established parts of our household routine. Then, among my earliest recollections are those of the sacred stories told me by my mother and grandmothers, and by other good kindred; the hymns I