ABSTRACT

The poetry of Western Pennsylvanian David Bruce in the 1790s offers a unique perspective on the politics of a turbulent decade in a region emerging from frontier conditions. His advocacy of Federalist politics enjoyed vibrant coloration as verse composed in Scots. His choice of language expressed his own background as a recent Scottish immigrant while allowing him to pose as “the Scots-Irishman.” A project that began as an act of political ventriloquism became admonition, reproachment, and condemnation as Bruce used his poetic skill to criticize and ridicule frontier democrats who actually were Irish of Scots cultural legacy. His poetry both gives voice to the concerns of a Federalist shopkeeper and offers pen-portraits of leading “Irish Jacobins” (as Bruce would have seen them) in Washington County and their views in the years between the Whiskey Rebellion and the Democratic-Republic triumph in 1800.

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