Not to be set back by attitudes toward them these country woodsmen hunted, hooted, hollered, and brazenly shot their way into becoming an integral part of early American history. These outspoken country folk are as much a part of history as is the Civil War, the White House, and George Washington.
A possible connection to early Scottish ancestry? The first American Rednecks were most likely a group of poor country immigrants from the Scotland and Ireland territories. Shunned by mainstream Americans as too low cultured to be associated with, these immigrants did whatever it took to survive in the tough American backwoods and survive they did.
Although there is some confusion as to exactly where the term Redneck originated it is believed that this reference may have began in Scotland around 1643.
During The First English Civil War Protestant leaders within the English Parliament recruited the Scots to aide in their battle against the Royalist Army. A deal, or covenant, was struck which was to allow the Scotts to maintain their Presbyterian religion rather than be forced to join in with the church of England. The terms of the agreement were drawn up and signed by those Scotts who agreed to fight for England in exchange for maintaining their religious rights.
The term Red neck was applied largely to Scottish lowland Presbyterians who signed the Solemn League and Covenant in their own blood and then afterwords proudly wore their bloodied kerchief around their neck. When the Civil War did not go in their favor the Covenant between the Scots and the English Parliament was torn up. Many of the Scottish dissenters then fled to nearby Ireland and carried with them the nickname of Redneck. Later immigration brought them to America.
The term Redneck came to America around the 17th and 18th centuries with the arrival of a group of hardworking immigrants of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh ancestry. These country immigrants were largely common folk looking for a better way of life for themselves and for their families. So they came to settle in America.
The term Red neck should have been used to identify only the Scottish dissenters from England but instead it became a derogatory title used to describe a majority of this group of America's newly arriving poor white immigrants.
It was a tough life to survive and they grew tough to survive it. They learned quickly to rely and trust only those individuals who were loyal to them. This was generally kin folk, a few close friends, and their bordering neighbors.
Life was difficult in the Southern Appalachian and Ozark mountain regions but the newly arrived immigrants settled in and did whatever they felt was necessary to insure their survival. Shunned by their American comrades they were forced to rely only on themselves and other immigrant neighbors for their survival in this new land.
Rednecks ate basically whatever it was that they could hunt, pick, or grow from within the surrounding countryside. Rednecks dined on squirrel, possum, fish, deer, moose, elk, and even bear if it wandered their way. From hunting squirrels to running whiskey Rednecks made their mark in American history books. Their survival was their badge of honor and they wore this pride within an attitude of self reliance.
Being one of these new American immigrants took on a somewhat twisted means to recognition. Most of the working poor spent long hours outdoors hunting and farming so were easily distinguishable by the reddened skin on their face, neck, and hands. Looked down upon by middle and upper white class Americans the term Redneck was soon used in a derogatory tone to describe a many poorer lower class white people of America.
Rednecks and the American wars: Although mistrustful of government bureaucracy, during the War of 1812, the Texas Revolution, the Civil War and the Mexican-American War, they volunteered for duty at a higher rate than other Americans.
This class of poor white country people had a very strong fighting spirit and they showed it by fighting and dying at much higher rates than their upper class American counterparts.
Rednecks are often depicted as being from the backwoods, uneducated, and simple in nature. So exactly who or what type of person falls into this category today?
Although the first Rednecks were thought to be lower class white country people over time color barriers faded and the sun reddened skin of a persons face and neck were no longer used to identify this class of individual.
The defining characteristics slowly evolved to be representative only of the distinct reputation and attitude of these people. The modern day Redneck can now be from any race, sex, religion, or class, and is identified only by his or her distinctive attitude and lifestyle.
Their attitude is of course very much based on the traditions and trials of their family heritage. Their morals and beliefs ingrained deeply through learned loyalties and mistrusts.
The modern day Rednecks are still best known and recognized for their outspoken and often times embarrassing, swearing, gambling, drinking, hard working and hell raising way of life but that is often more a mainstream media image than the reality.
A true redneck has a strong love of family and country. Many still live a quiet rural life so as not to disrupt the lifestyle, morals, and values they hold closest to the heart. Strongly loyal to those who are loyal in return you are likely to recognize one when you meet them.
As an essential part of American history Rednecks have come to be known as an indispensable and fiercely proud component of the American population. This courtesy of the rednecks of yesteryear who through their hard work and independent attitudes paved a gentler pathway for modern day Rednecks to walk today.
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