A Brief History of the Redneck

KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Last week, when I outed myself as an Angry White Man, I got some of that dreaded “nativist” fan mail. (Is it my imagination or has the word “nativist” been used more times in the past two months than in all previous recorded history?)

Let me make this clear: I’m not a nativist, I’m a redneck. There’s a difference. A nativist would be one of those snooty New Englanders in the Mayflower Society. Blue bloods in ruffled shirts. Think Adlai Stevenson…Noah Webster…William Rehnquist. Congregationalists. Pointy-nosed moralizers. Some of them could be angry—Jonathan Edwards comes to mind—but they were angry in a sort of clench-jawed Connecticut debutante way. Ewwwww, don’t talk to her, she’s such a Kappa.

The nativist idea of a rebellion is to dress up like Indians and dump tea in the ocean—the 18th-century version of frat boys pranking the archrival football team.

The redneck idea of a rebellion is to lie in wait with a shotgun for the guy who’s trying to tax your whiskey.


This is actually a pretty informative article, even for a redneck like me. Be sure to read both pages.

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23 Responses to A Brief History of the Redneck

  1. Andrew says:

    Yup, and one of the reasons that when the North got uppity and tried to squash the South economically, a whole lot of bare-foot scruffy bearded nutjobs started shooting at anything in government blue.

    My wife is Scots-Irish. I love her, and protect her and take care of her, but, but deep in my heart I fear her, as I know if I slip up once, she’ll kill me.

    Think I’m kidding? She is always telling the story of her granny, who, after her husband got drunk and hit her once, waited until the jerk was passed out and then woke him by tossing a pot of hot water on him and shoving a shotgun against his chest, telling him if he ever hit her again, she’d blow him in half.

    My wife once knocked out a dude with one punch.

    I love my wife. (and I fear her.)

  2. Phil says:

    Damn, that had to have been the most entertaining history lesson I have ever had the privilege to read.
    It also describes my kinfolk to a T and helps explain why I am the way I am.
    It’s in my DNA.
    I are a Red Neck..

  3. Timbotoo says:

    Very good and informative article. Also there were families living across the Scotland – England border who were known as the Border Reivers. These were thieves, murderers, cattle and sheep rustlers and mercenaries who operated in the region between about the 13h to the 16th century. Any redneck interested should google “Reivers surnames” and probably find theirs there. As I did.

  4. Pissed Off Redneck Okie Sumbich says:

    So that’s why I’m a fucking asshole…..

    I’ve got the black TA in the front yard on blocks to prove it !

  5. Grandpa says:

    If “they” would just leave us alone… then we Scots/Irish could just go back to fighting each other for sport. But, history shows, “they” won’t, and so we have to kick all their asses. Ok.
    “Here’s to us, and those like us… deal the wine.” (sounds good even when it’s not in Gaelic)

  6. Cederq says:

    My dear departed mother is from the Pittsburgh area, no wonder I too like most here are pissed off assholes, fits me to a “T”. Fuck ya”ll iffin ya don’t like it is my motto…

    • Cederq says:

      I could also see being a Cumberland Presbyterian, I think all churches are a scam and con job full of churchians that are bastards rolled in bastards, dipped in bastard sauces.

  7. BobT says:

    OR, here is another version that started in WV.

    The term redneck comes from the West Virginia Coal Miners March (aka Battle of Blair Mountain) when coal miners wore red bandanas around their necks to identify themselves as seeking the opportunity to unionize.


  8. BobT says:


    “The Battle of Blair Mountain, the Miners’ March, or the Red Neck War”

    A battle in the WV coal mines in 1921. They all wore red bandanas around their necks to show solidarity.

    • BobT says:

      Sorry about the double post. It did not show on my end as gone through. Bob

      • Wirecutter says:

        I didn’t catch it. If it shows on your end as not having gone through, it goes to my trash folder. I check my trash folder every time I moderate because of that and restore them to my pending folder. If I’m in a hurry a duplicate comment gets posted if you resubmitted it.
        My fault, not yours.

  9. Terry says:

    Great post. Thanks.

  10. Hillbilly says:

    So I’m good with that, 3 sons The oldest is a regular guy. Hard working trying his best for his new family. Next is the 34 year old, 6’4 biker and has more money than anyone else in the family. the youngest is a Red Neck, will never be anything but. Makes good money, spends it on 4x4s and guns and beer and whiskey. Bitches about the traffic on a two lane road at 5:30 am out in the stix.
    Wonder where they get that from? Must be their Mother.

  11. Tsquared says:

    My wife’s family is from Athen’s TN. Just about all of her male kinfolk got a little riled up about 70 years ago a did something about it – good reading, “battle of Athens TN”. I grew up in the swamp in South GA and have experience in jungle, desert, and mountainous environments (thank you Uncle Sam). She is happy with my ability to prevail in hostile environments.

    To me, RedNeck is a badge of honor.

  12. Tennessee Budd says:

    Yep. I live on the northern Highland RIm, the western part of the Cumberland Plateau, and Kenny’s east of me, more truly part of the Cumberland. Took you a half-century to find your real home, but here you are! (Notice how well you fit in with these folks?)

  13. Neros Lyre says:

    Excellent article,I really enjoyed it.Theres a lot of ScotsIrish here(Ky.)that are some of the best once they know and trust you.Glad you got the hell out of Commiefornica,I was there in 89/90 and it was a nightmare then.

  14. fjord says:

    I’m actually a flatlander transplant that became farmer, leave us alone dirt person.

    I can claim no blood ties to being a redneck, but am all in as far as philosophy and mindset, come from peasant stock.

  15. Doonhamer says:

    A very interesting article. Many thanks.

    Not much is heard about the Ulster-Scots in the Americas, probably because boasting is, and probably was, frowned upon. I am proud to be one of that community, but quietly proud.
    And I mean those people from both sides of the North Channel, the narrow waters between Galloway and Ulster. Up until the railway age travel was much easier by sea than by land and thus the links up and down the west coast of Scotland and Ulster were always stronger than with the rest of the British Isles. From the coast of the South West tip of Scotland, Ireland is clearly visible (on a clear day) being separated by only 22 miles. Even today it easier and more pleasant for people there to take a ferry to Belfast for shopping than to go to Glasgow or Dumfries.
    However they have always been an awkward bunch right from Roman times onwards.
    Do an on line search of Covenanters, Covenanters in USA, Ulster Plantation, Ulster-Scots in USA.
    Ulster-Scots Hillbillies and Rednecks http://www.tartansauthority.com/Global-Scots/us-scots-history/hillbillies-and-rednecks

    In the USA they did not have slaves, they were active participants in the Revolution and in the new nation and have many dialect links.
    Quite a few Presidents, Military leaders and industrialists are Ulster-Scots. John Paul Jones, David Crocket, etc. etc..
    Their poet was Robert Burns. His poetry speaks out against slavery, pomposity, hypocrisy, false piety…
    And of course he gave us Auld Lang Syne

  16. Doonhamer says:

    Part two
    The Rhinns of Galloway where I hail from, is reputed to be full of rogues and sheep rustlers (a hanging offence) who had been chased out of Ireland or the rest of Scotland. In that part of Scotland they would be safe unless they upset the locals. Shades of the early USA. As such the Galloway-Irish are probably a well mixed bunch of mongrels.
    A good reason for Andrew to be wary of his beloved is given by the stories of Sawney Bean and The Galloway Murder Hole.

    In Galloway there exists the tale of an old woman and her son who lived in a lonely cottage on the Bargrennan to Straiton road. The pair were said to welcome weary travellers, but after providing lodgers with a bed for the night they would murder their unsuspecting victims and dump their bodies in a deep, boggy hole on the moor.
    S.R. Crockett took the story for his book “The Raiders” but moved the Murder Hole from Rowantree Junction to Loch Neldricken.

    Lastly, I give a recommendation for one of the best whiskeys (with an “e”).
    Bushmills. Their single malt and their Blackbush are both nectar, Have a taste before you die. A beautiful product of the Ulster-Scots.

    Farewell and lang may yer lum reek.
    Which just means that may you always have a smoking chimney – always have fuel.

  17. Jeffery in Alabama says:

    That was a very entertaining article and really enjoyed it. if anyone is interested in that sort of thing, check out Grady McWhinney’s book “Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways In The Old South”. It really helped me to understand why I am the way I am as are most people who live around me. It is in the DNA of the Scots-Irish.

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