Early Presbyterians in America and the Declaration of Independence.
|The Log College (Image from GraceandPeace.org)|
Rev Francis MaKemie (1658-1708) is usually credited with being the first to organise Presbyterianism in America although it must be said that his task was made easier by the endeavours of others before him. He was licensed in 1682 by the Lagan Presbytery and went first to the West Indies before arriving in the American colonies about 1684. His was not an easy task, not only having a widespread congregation, but hindered by the local governors who enforced the English laws according more to their whim than the statute. McKemie was arrested in January 1707 by the Deputy Governor in New York, an Episcopalian by faith, for allegedly preaching without authority - choosing to ignore the Toleration Act.
Yet another Ulsterman to make his contribution to America was William Tennent, later to be called ` the father of Presbyterian colleges in America`. In 1716 he founded his famous `Log College` at Neshaminy which soon gained an enviable reputation and said to resemble " one of the school of the prophets more than any seminary." He was followed in 1718 by the Rev James McGregor, minister of Aghadowey, who with members of his congregation from Macosquin and around Londonderry and Coleraine, established the town of Londonderry in New Hampshire. So began a new phase among the Ulster-Scots settlers in America in which some 300,000 discontented Presbyterians from Ulster settled in the New World between 1717 and 1776.