The phrase “Don’t Tread on Me” resonates with the “Tea Party” which strongly identifies with the American Revolution … in spite of fact that that the contemporary “Tea Party” hails from Dixie, the Midwest, and the Far West.
Listen to this:
It is the story of the Cracker Nation in the American Revolution having a bloody fight with everyone in the best traditions of the anarchic, backwoods Celtic savages of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland!
“Greater Appalachia – poor, isolated, and not in control of a single colonial government – had the most complicated involvement in the wars of liberation. The Borderlanders seized on the pretext of the “revolution” to assert their independence from outside control, but, as previously mentioned, this took different forms in each region, sometimes in each region.
In Pennsylvania the Borderlanders were the shock troops of the revolution, which provided them an opportunity to usurp power in the province from the Midlander elite in Philadelphia. Here the Scots-Irish so dominated the rebel armies that one British officer called them the “line of Ireland.” In London King George III referred to the entire conflict as “a Presbyterian War,” while Horace Walpole told Parliament: “Cousin America has run off with a Presbyterian parson!” The army that famously shivered at Valley Forge was made up almost entirely of Yankees and Borderlanders, and it was the Scots-Irish backcountry leadership that drafted Pennsylvania’s 1776 Constitution, granting the Appalachian districts effective control over the colony. By war’s end they had liberated themselves from the Midlanders and British alike. …
Meanwhile, other backcountry communities were fighting the British, carrying the banner of Scotland into battle, to which some Borderlanders added the Scottish motto: Nemo me impune lacessit, loosely translated as “Don’t Tread on Me.” When the British Army under Cornwallis arrived in the area in 1780, the Borderlanders turned on one another, plunging the colony into a civil war with horrors worthy of the conflicts their ancestors had fought on the British borderlands. Loyalist forces raped young girls in front of their parents, while patriots whipped and tortured suspected enemy collaborators. Many armed gangs had no loyalties whatsoever and simply preyed on whomever they wished, kidnapping children for ransom, looting homes, and assassinating rivals. . . .
The South Carolina and Georgia backcountry also descended into civil war, albeit for different reasons. Here the Deep Southern oligarchs who controlled the colonial governments were especially resistant to sharing power with the rabble. In South Carolina the backcountry made up three-quarters of the colony’s white population but had only two of forty-eight seats in the provincial assembly; this arrangement led one agitator to denounce the planters for keeping “half their subjects in a state of slavery,” by whom he meant not blacks but Borderlanders like himself. Here few “loyalists” cared about Britain, but they aligned themselves with the king simply because he was fighting their lowland enemies. In some communities, Borderlands regarded the British as their greatest oppressors, creating the ingredients for a backcountry civil war in addition to the struggle with the lowlanders. Once it started, the fighting became exceedingly ugly, a guerrilla war marked by ambushes, the execution of prisoners, and the torture, rape, and plunder of noncombatants. One British officer said the Carolina backcountrymen were “more savage than the Indians,” while a Continental Army officer, Robert E. Lee’s father, Henry, observed that those in Georgia “exceeded the Goths and Vandals in their schemes of plunder, murder, and iniquity.”
Ah yes, the old Irish, Scottish, and Welsh savagery, which was so familiar to the English. Just watch the Mel Gibson movies.
Note: In later decades, the distinction between the “Borderlanders” and “Deep South” planters vanished in the Western South, as the two groups merged and intermarried in states like Georgia and Alabama, where the hybrid society called the “Cotton Kingdom” was created.
Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun were “Borderlander” slaveowners of Scots-Irish ancestry from the South Carolina backcountry. In the best traditions of the Cracker Nation, Old Hickory (who had already been shot up in a duel) once had the urge to string up his Vice President.
Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, is named after Old Hickory. It looks nothing like Charleston because it was a self conscious creation of the Cracker Nation which settled the Old Southwest from Tennessee along the Natchez Trace and from Georgia along the old Federal Road.
Alas, the Cracker Nation settled Alabama too, I am afraid … all the way to the Redneck Riveria in Panama City, Florida. This damn place called “Dixie” still stubbornly exists, too:
It is a myth that slaveowners were “Cavaliers” and “Chivalry” … this was true of some tobacco planters in Virginia and some rice and indigo planters in South Carolina, whose estates reflected their origins, but the overwhelming majority of slaveowners and planters were nouveaux rich Crackers who owned a slave family or two.
South Carolina conservatives scoffed at the idea of exporting slavery to Kansas … that was obviously a Cracker project from the get go, as was the militant expansion of the Cotton Kingdom from the South Carolina backcountry across the Western South, as was the Texas Revolution.