Sen. Jim Webb, shown on location at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland, is the host of a documentary airing Sunday night on the Smithsonian Channel titled Born Fighting, which focuses on the history of the Scots-Irish people.
The Scots-Irish played a critical role in winning the American Revolution, according to Webb. The group also gave America the religious fundamentalism still present in the Bible Belt and the “play hard” culture of whiskey and country music, he said. The contributions of the Scots-Irish to our political system, however, outstrip even the best of the whiskey recipes that they brought with them to America.
“The greatest contribution of this culture was the creation of populist-style democracy,” Webb said. “It’s almost a given today in a lot of our debates, but they brought it.”
Despite its many contributions, however, the group’s story is not often told. Webb aimed to change that by writing a more readable account that he hopes will spark further interest. He thinks the documentary could take it even further.
“I thought it was a tremendous chance to try to get this down in a way that is more accessible,” he said. “A two-hour documentary is easier to go through than a whole book.”
The concept fit well with the Smithsonian Institution’s goal to spread knowledge and the channel’s goal to “tell America’s stories,” according to Tom Hayden, Smithsonian Channel’s general manager.
“It was one of the easier ones for us to see as a natural fit,” he said. “It was the perfect story for us.”