Albion’s Seed, Genotyped

Last year I reviewed Albion’s Seed, historian David Fischer’s work on the four great English migrations to America (and JayMan continues the story in his series on American Nations). These early migrations help explain modern regional patterns like why Massachusetts is so liberal or why Appalachia seems so backwards. As always, there’s the lingering question of how much of these patterns are cultural versus genetic versus gene-cultural interaction.

Now Han et al take this field high-tech with the publication of Clustering Of 770,000 Genomes Reveals Post-Colonial Population Structure Of North America (h/t gwern, werttrew)

The team looked at 770,000 genomes analyzed by the AncestryDNA company and used a technique called identity-by-descent to find recent common ancestors. Then they used some other techniques to divide them into natural clusters. This is what they got:

This is the European-settler-focused map – there’s another one focusing on immigrant groups lower down here

This is kind of beautiful. While not exactly matching Albion’s Seed, it at least clearly shows its New Englander and Pennsylvania Quaker migrations (more realistically the Germans who came along with the Quakers), with less distinct signals for Borderers and Virginians. It shows how they spread directly west from their place of origin in almost exactly the way American Nations predicted. It even confirms my own conjecture that the belt of Democrat voters along southern Michigan corresponds to an area of New Englander settlement there (see part III here, or search “linear distribution of blue”). And it confirms Razib Khan’s observation that the Mormons are just displaced New Englanders and that their various unusual demographic features make sense in that context.

My biggest confusion is in the Southern/Appalachian region. I think Fischer would have predicted two distinct strains: a Tidewater/Virginian population along the coasts, and a Borderer/Appalachian population centered in West Virginia and Kentucky. Instead there are three populations, all of which start along the Atlantic Coast and continue inland in about the same way. Assuming red/”Appalachian” is the Borderers, I don’t know if Fischer has a good explanation for the purple/”upland south” vs. gold/”lower south” distinction. Nor I do get understand why, if one of those two represent the Tidewater Virginians, they don’t seem to be in the Tidewater Virginia region (which here is inhabited mostly by Borderers). Maybe this has something to do with the Civil War, or with the growth of the DC suburbs?

(And I guess we still haven’t ruled out the maximally boring explanation that interbreeding is entirely geographic and north-south is a bigger distinction than east-west so we’re just seeing the country divided into five equal-sized latitudinal bands.)

Not exactly a confusion, but more a disappointment: this map doesn’t provide the confirmation I’d hoped for that Californians, Seattleites, and other “Left Coasters” are displaced New Englanders – which would complete the circle of “Liberal Democrats = Puritan/Quaker population subgroup”. It’s also disappointing how little data they have for the Mountain West in general; I don’t know if that’s because there weren’t enough people there to show up, or because they’re a mix of every genetic lineage and don’t fit into any of the clusters nicely.

Still, I find this a really elegant example of hard science confirming historical speculation. Thanks to everyone who brought it to my attention.

[EDIT: Jayman goes much more into depth on this]

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105 Responses to Albion’s Seed, Genotyped

  1. cassander says:

    Based on the geography, I think it is the red/gold that were the cavaliers, the purple that are the borderers. When Charles II came back, he gave a bunch of lords lands in america, primarily in what is now South Carolina and Virginia. North Carolina lacked a good natural harbor for the ships of the day and so was relatively undeveloped at first. It eventually got settled by borders and, being borders, they began quarrelling with the south carolinians, leading to a split. Given the realities of pre-modern transportation, it’s not suprising that the two cavalier camps didn’t intermarry much despite being culturally similar, even before considering that there was a sea of borderers between them.

    That said, I’m surprised at how cavalier the southern midwest is. I’d have expected more borders there.

    • greghb says:

      I grew up in Tennessee, and after reading Scott’s review of Albion’s Seed a while back, it immediately snapped into place for me that, “Ohhh, the people I disliked growing up were all borderers, that makes perfect sense.” And (unfortunately) they certainly seemed to be a majority among whites. So, count that as anecdotal evidence that Upland South purple (which spans Tennessee) is roughly borderer.

      In further anecdote, I would certainly agree that the coastal SC and GA (think Charleston, Savannah) seemed genteel and aristocratic, so I have no trouble believing that Lower South gold is a version of Cavaliers.

      I’m not so sure what to make of that Lower South gold in northern Florida — I would have guessed that was borderer country. Maybe there’s a limit to anecdotal cultural experience… 🙂

      • NIP says:

        Just wanted to pop in to say that it’s kind of funny to me to see casual racism on SSC, but only when it comes to those darned white trash Borderers. I can’t imagine anyone on SSC ever uttering the sentence “Ohhh, the people I disliked growing up were all West Africans, that makes perfect sense.” And yet even our gentle host has a mild hate-on for “borderers”.

        I guess it’s true that everyone’s a little bit racist.

        • Minsc says:

          A cultural group isn’t a race. The post you’re responding to even says “they certainly seemed to be a majority among whites”. There were no generalizations about white people. Calling someone “white trash” is rude, but is different from saying “white people are trash.”

          • NIP says:

            A cultural group isn’t a race.

            Scott’s post is about genotypes, and common usage of the word “racism” involves connotations of bigotry due to cultural as well as biological differences.

            There were no generalizations about white people.

            No, just generalizations about a certain cultural-genetic group of them, which I presume greghb and the majority of posters here would never make about a non-white group.

            To clarify, I don’t actually have a problem with someone stating their honest opinion of another group of people, even if it is bigoted. I just think that on this site, it’s hypocritical to do that when talking about cultural and ethnic divisions among whites, unless posters were also free to say things like “Quite frankly, I don’t much care for black people.”

          • rlms says:

            Since borderers are a very small subgroup of white people, a better comparison would be people saying “god, I really hate the Akan people of Ghana”.

          • NIP says:


            Okay, granted. But my larger point that it’s bigoted and hypocritical still stands.

          • Corey says:

            unless posters were also free to say things like “Quite frankly, I don’t much care for black people.”

            Lurk in some open threads (if you haven’t already), HBD is taken fairly seriously among the regulars. So the sentiment “blacks are immutably intellectually inferior to whites” is actually well-tolerated around here, to the point where people will flame you as a “science denier” if you push back.

            (That said, it has to be kept mild; if people started throwing around “dindu” for example, they’d probably quickly meet the banhammer)

          • NIP says:

            the sentiment “blacks are immutably intellectually inferior to whites” is actually well-tolerated around here, to the point where people will flame you as a “science denier” if you push back.

            That’s only bigoted in my eyes if it’s followed with the statement “and therefore they deserve everything they get, the dirty bastards.” You can point out differences and not hate those who are different from you.

            Maybe it’s just me, but I get a distinct feeling from Scott in particular, if not all the commentariat, that it’s okay to denigrate “Borderers” for being unintelligent and backward, but that they’d never put things in such un-genteel terms when it comes to African-Americans. Then again, Scott probably hasn’t actually met many black people, at least from the lower classes, so they’re probably a “fargroup” in his own terminology, and thus don’t hold his attention nearly as much.

            But like I said, it’s possible that I’m inferring too much from a few admittedly mild statements, and I myself am prejudiced against those of Scott’s social class. I automatically expect snobbery from them, and perhaps that wasn’t his intention.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Social class?

            That seems sort of … not wrong, but not right either.

          • NIP says:


            I’m sorry, I don’t get what you mean. What’s categorically wrong about me saying that I’m prejudiced against Scott’s social class? Do you know me better than I do, such that you know better than me what factor it is that makes me hold an irrational dislike for him? Or are you saying social classes no longer exist?

          • Tekhno says:

            Borderer is certainly a race, because line drawing with races is arbitrary. “White” is just a larger racial category yet again, and nobody agrees on where the boundaries lie (so to Hitler slavs might be separate, or only Nordic people are “white” and Irish celts are not and so on).

            Racial categories are social constructs.

            “god, I really hate the Akan people of Ghana”.

            All you’ve done is subdivided and created a new race. Instead of saying you hate red, you’re saying you hate that part of red on the orange side between blah wavelengths.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Scott is a weird guy. Social status is not exactly what I would describe himself as having.

            I think you are mostly reacting to people you perceive as in the”urbane” group. It’s the city mouse/country mouse conflict. Blue tribe vs. red tribe.

            I mean, the other possibility is just having a negative impression of intellectuals. If the “social class” you don’t like is all composed of university professors and scientists, you might consider what that means.

          • hypnosifl says:


            Scott’s post is about genotypes

            Yes, but cultural groups can be correlated with genotypes for historical reasons, such that the different gene frequencies in this group have nothing whatsoever to do with the behavioral differences. If “borderers” tended to be from a particular region/social class in England, you’d expect them to cluster together in a genotype analysis even if their characteristically “borderer” behaviors were purely a matter of the culture of that region/social class.

        • Urstoff says:

          Bigotry against poor whites is common: “redneck”, People of Wal-Mart, etc.

          (TIL that you spell out the n-word, your post will be ejected into the void; I wrote a reply comparing “redneck” to the n-word, taking care to observe the use/mention distinction, but it the post was eaten anyway; probably not a bad policy, all in all, but now I’m wondering what other words will auto-delete a post)

          • albertborrow says:

            Inevitably, comments like this prompt responses of: “They deserve it, for being subversive or anti-education.” I can’t even recall how many times I’ve seen people criticize the deep south for being socially conservative and religious, while in the same hand denouncing bigotry towards the middle east. Strong anti-whatever sentiments are always a bad idea, no matter how bad the target seems, because it’s much harder to convert an ideologue than it is to convert an ignoramus – and that’s what most people are when their beliefs are unchallenged.

          • Gazeboist says:

            Other major slurs and names (or possibly substrings of names) of banned users, as I recall. Also two (?) topics of conversation that were banned for being annoying / not a great thing to be high on the list of google results for.

            ed – This is a reply to Urstoff’s parenthetical, obviously.

          • VivaLaPanda says:


            Do you see those attitudes here, or just in general? Lot’s of people here even on the left have problems with the education system.

          • albertborrow says:


            Not here, I don’t think. And being against the education administration is very different from being anti-education – I was just pointing out that the subtlety of that isn’t apparent to some people.

        • greghb says:

          That’s a fair point. To round it out, though, there’s more where that came from in terms of the racist attitudes I internalized while growing up in the south! This is a topic I reflect on often. I hope it’s in bounds for the comments here? I guess I’ll find out…

          For example, I distinctly remember the first black person I met whom I liked. I was 4 years old, at a party at my aunt’s house in Connecticut, and one of her friends was black, and she played with me, and her accent was basically the same as mine, and I thought she was nice. This was a total shock. Even by 4, I’d grown to dislike black people, because the few I’d interacted with were a bit hard to understand accent-wise, and were much more strict with children than my own laissez faire east coast liberal Montessori etc. parents. But after meeting my aunt’s friend who had (or at least could code-switch into?) something you might call “Connecticut culture”, I had the 4-year-old version of the realization that race wasn’t the only thing that mattered, and that class and culture were also important in whether I’d get along with someone.

          It was only much later, after learning a lot of history and getting some distance from the south, that I even got an inkling about why I had disliked (a certain subset of) southern black people as a kid. Like, what historical and cultural forces had led to a divergence in child-rearing style and accent, etc.

          But until reading Scott’s review of Albion’s Seed, I hadn’t really thought about different historical and cultural patterns among “regular old” white people — and it seemed to align very nicely with some of my experiences.

          I guess I can’t dispute that this is something like casual racism… though I do dispute that I don’t apply it equally? For whatever that’s worth?

          • NIP says:

            Like I mentioned, I’m not getting on your case specifically for being prejudiced. Everyone has their prejudices and I don’t mind people expressing them. I’m not part of the cultural milieu that considers that a faux pas. I was merely pointing out that you wouldn’t hear that kind of talk around here about ethnic or cultural groups that weren’t white.

            Since we’re sharing stories about our prejudices, though, I can say that I generally dislike and distrust the middle and upper classes of my own country, what Moldbug would call “Brahmins”, people like your parents. In the Fischer schema I guess they’d be Puritans/Quakers? Anyway, I’ve been uncomfortable around these sorts of people since around middle school, actually, as both of my parents were working class and my mother was always trying to get my brother and I into better and better neighborhoods and schools, since we started out in the ghettos of Sacremento in the early 90’s at the height of the racial tensions of that time. When we finally moved to an upper-crusty suburb where everyone was a doctor or lawyer, she joined the PTA early on and while she always tried to fit in with the mothers there, they always looked askance at her and I saw how it affected her. I also didn’t get along great with most of my classmates and teachers and couldn’t really relate to their lifestyle, though like my mother I did occasionally try.

            On the other hand, my best friend at the time ended up being a young man of (literally) Puritan aristocratic lineage whose mother was a professor of literature, so I guess there’s always exceptions to prejudice. Plus I’ve massively mellowed out over the years, and now my only real reason for disliking upper-class types is their politics. Like you, I try my best to judge people individually.

            EDIT: Okay, actually I guess I still dislike them for a lot of reasons not necessarily related to politics, but I DO try to be nice and get along with everyone I meet.

            Also I think I misjudged you in particular, greghb, since you say the only reason you didn’t talk about your prejudices towards non-whites was because of the taboo here. I apologize.

          • greghb says:


            Totally, no worries, I didn’t take it as a personal attack for being prejudiced or anything. But I thought you had a valid point: insofar as your observation is true that people don’t discuss and reflect on their prejudices openly, at least if their prejudices are about non-whites — well, I agree that’s potentially hypocritical / a missed opportunity. So I was trying to, you know, “be the change” by sharing that story, etc.

            And thanks for sharing as well… the upper-crusty PTA sounds cringe-worthy. I personally would hate to wind up contributing to the pretentiousness of such a community. Unfortunately, though, I think such pretentiousness intersects with high quality education a lot — and I assume I’ll want high quality education to be open to my kids (who do not exist yet, to be clear). So I’m sort of expecting this to be a tension for me in a few years… Have you thought about this at all? What sort of community do you see yourself seeking out? (Or maybe you don’t plan to have kids so this is less relevant.)

          • NIP says:

            Have you thought about this at all? What sort of community do you see yourself seeking out? (Or maybe you don’t plan to have kids so this is less relevant.)

            I don’t plan on having kids anytime soon, though not out of principle. But if I did, I would probably try to find a traditionally-minded group of my co-religionists and homeschool. I’d also try to live in a rural or semi-rural area if possible, as doing so recently in my life has been great for my sanity and I expect it would do the same for my children. Though I wouldn’t go full Amish; I’d take my kids into the city and to meet my metropolitan friends and their kids.

            As for trying to keep your kids from being pretentious, from my own experience you should simply try to be the best member of your social class that you can be and pass those values to your kids. Don’t worry about the pretentious influences of others. Be classier than them, and your children will (hopefully) follow your lead.

        • herbert herberson says:

          Have you not read the last three comment sections? I guess it’s reasonable to single out Scott, but the commentariet was saying worse things at least as casually about immigrants/Muslims

          • NIP says:

            the commentariet was saying worse things at least as casually about immigrants/Muslims

            I guess so. At least, a certain section of the commentariat. Though for most of it I get the vibe that their beef is only with Muslims who faithfully practice their faith, and not the pet ones who are progressives in all but outward observance.

        • Tekhno says:


          I guess it’s true that everyone’s a little bit racist.

          Because no group can hover above the rest of society in being perfectly anti-racist, and always always finds an acceptable outlet, I think anti-racism is a pointless movement. The left side* which denounces racism always seems to search for an acceptable way of re-introducing it in a disguised form (eg. conservatives having lower average IQ, marking them as a distinct genetic sub-group, makes them a race, if an unfamiliar one to most people).

          What’s important is that you aren’t oppressing people. The right side is all too interested in using racism as an excuse for oppressive behavior, so when the right side calls this out as hypocrisy, they are interested in using this to gain the political capital to restore the oppressive societies of the past.

          *Leftism is difficult because it’s evolutionarily novel. Equality is prone to collapsing back into disguised inverted inequalities. Leftism is prone to collapsing into the rightism of non-traditional groups. Identifying the most racist race (whitey) is racist.

          • NIP says:

            What’s important is that you aren’t oppressing people.

            While I find most of your post difficult to parse, I agree with you there, with the caveat that everybody’s got their own definition of what “oppression” is and is not.

          • rlms says:

            Groups can have a lower than average IQ without being genetically distinct (e.g. people with brain damage).

        • Steve Sailer says:

          You want those “Heartbreak Ridge” hillbillies on your side in a war.

          But we don’t have really big wars much these days, so white Americans enjoy hating each other. For example, here’s William Kristol asking Charles Murray why not just replace the unsatisfactory white working class with immigrants:

        • Tatu Ahponen says:

          What about “those lefty busybodies only want to control what everyone says and does because they’re the descendants of those narrow-minded Puritans”? Isn’t that quite equivalent?

    • ejlflop says:

      Do we know that a cavalier/roundhead distinction would show up in the genetics? The English civil war famously divided families even amongst themselves. While I accept there’s typically a strong gene/culture interaction, you could imagine there being some cultural factors that are particularly strong and heritable all by themselves.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        There was kind of a regional division in the English Civil War of the 1640s. Cambridge U. in the east was relatively more Puritan, Oxford U. in the west more Cavalier. In general, Cambridge has been more intellectual and left of center, Oxford more artistic/social and right of center.

        Fischer’s Puritans tend to come more from the east of England, his Tidewater / lowland Southerners more from the west and south of England.

        Fischer calls attention to the higher percentage of Easterners in England being descended from Danes and Vikings. A recent genetic study also suggested Anglo-Saxon ancestry was higher in the east.

        This doesn’t mean that genes drive behavioral differences. It could be that the genes are just markers associated with different extended family networks that pass on different tendencies in how children are brought up.

        A racial group is basically a partially inbred extended family, so it’s complicated to disentangle nature and nurture.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Here are three famous Puritans and their family name’s geographic origins in England:

          John Adams’ male line name came from the village of Braintree in England, which is east of the U. of Cambridge.

          Isaac Newton was born in Woolsthorpe, north of and in-between Cambridge and Oxford, closer to Cambridge.

          Ben Franklin’s father was from Ecton, which was in between Cambridge and Oxford. Interestingly, Franklin, although born next to the docks of Boston, moved to Philadelphia at age 16 and seemed to benefit in his diplomatic career from European confusion over whether he was a prickly Puritan (like the not always popular John Adams) or a genial Quaker like the much admired William Penn. Scott has nominated Penn as the most successful/admirable man in history, while I’ve nominated Franklin. Old Ben did a fine job of getting people to assume he was a Quaker without going to the trouble of being or saying he was one.

          In Fischer’s typology, the Pennsylvanians, who evolved into the typical Midwesterners, are probably the most representative Americans. Franklin was a ~180 IQ Puritan who figured out way back in the first half of the 18th Century that Pennsylvanians were going to be more popular, both in America and around the world, than Puritans, so he molded his image into one.

    • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

      Yeah, the Borderers are definitely the purple group, looking at the patterns in my own home state, Missouri. The purple maps almost perfectly to the Ozarks, which have all the cultural characteristics of the Appalachians, while the red inhabitants of the more northerly parts of the state aren’t Borderers at all. Given Red’s settlement across middle Illinois, southern Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia, I’d say they’re more likely Tidewater Virginians (from what I’ve seen of those places, they all match up culturally well to KC, as anecdotal evidence).

      Gold/purple are pretty obviously the Cavalier/Borderers Fischer points out, so that really just leaves Red as the anomaly to be explained.

      • SamChevre says:

        I’m pretty sure the red is the Catholics; there’s a significant Catholic population from Baltimore, west through Northern West Virginia and Northern Kentucky, southern PA and southern Ohio, and out to St Louis. The geography looks right.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Here’s a question: the Ozarks are like a reprise of Appalachia; so how are the Ozarks doing?

        Appalachia is notoriously struggling, but the Ozarks in the late 20th Century were benefiting from the remarkable emergence of America’s largest private employer, Walmart, from the center of the Ozarks just over the border in Bentonville, Arkansas. I haven’t been back to the Ozarks in 25 years, but in 1992 they were enjoying unprecedented prosperity due to Sam Walton betting heavily, and successfully, that Ozark hillbillies could staff America’s most aggressive corporation.

        What has happened since then?

    • mpbryan90 says:

      This is very interesting. My first ancestors in America were Quakers who originally moved to Pennsylvania, but then settled in North Carolina, eventually intermarrying with the Boone family and settling Kentucky with them.

      Before writing this I had assumed the Boones were Borderers, but upon doing some research, Squire Boone (Daniel Boone’s father) was also a Quaker who moved to Pennsylvania, then North Carolina. I doubt it was just one or two families that made the trip, but I guess these kinds of resettlements weren’t large enough to appear on the map.

      (Incidentally, my family did end up in the industrial Midwest, but in St. Louis… by way of Iowa, which does have a few cyan dots)

    • JayMan says:

      The dark yellow along the Deep South is the Cavalier component.

  2. Douglas Knight says:

    And I guess we still haven’t ruled out the maximally boring explanation that interbreeding is entirely geographic and north-south is a bigger distinction than east-west so we’re just seeing the country divided into five equal-sized latitudinal bands.

    I’m not sure what the map means when it says things like “3-9 generations ago,” but I think it is pretty much just claiming that the settlers spread west, not that they were distinct before coming to America. Well, that’s what it would be saying if it said 9, but 3 is such a small number, I’m confused.

    Whereas, Fisher did claim that they were distinct in England, at least culturally, but probably genetically. He also claimed that immigrants assimilated, so that, say, the Upper Midwest is culturally Puritan even though it is not very English. I am surprised that the map does not show New English west of Lake Michigan and shows so little in Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska. I suspect that this is an intentional blanking of mixed areas. (Which may also why it doesn’t show much about the Left Coast.)

    • Iowan here. Any particular reason you expected us to be primarily New Englanders? “A vague mix of Scandinavians, Quakers, Germans, Irish, and Borderers, resulting in Generic White Middle American” sounds about right. (See the two main comments from Paul Conroy and Dr. Dealgood for explanations about the Germans and Irish, many of whom are Catholic around here.) Some black people too, with most mixed race people having been born less than two generations ago. Also a very small Vietnamese population. Nebraska and Kansas I would assume to be similar, but perhaps with fewer minorities in the case of Nebraska.

      • Paul Conroy says:


        I have a Conroy relative in Crawford County, Iowa, who went there in the early 1800’s and his kids married Irish, but from all over the island, and the next generation married almost exclusively German, with some Scandinavians, and dispersed to Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, though most stayed put in Iowa.

  3. Paul Conroy says:

    As I have pointed out numerous times, to Razib maybe 10 years ago, “Albion’s Seed” is a dreadful book, lacking historical accuracy and often downright false/fake assertions! It only seems informative to those that are completely ignorant of Irish and British history of geography. The one group that Fischer get’s right is Puritan.

    He ignores the fact that Quakerism came from Ireland to the US, with huge contributions from Central Ireland, and secondly Wales, and only thirdly the English Midlands. I have a lot of Quaker relatives, as William “The Irish Hammer” Edmondson, lived in Co Laois, Irish Midlands, my home county. His residence as Tineal House, Rosenallis, Co Laois, backed onto my Gx5 Grandfather’s property. It was in Tineal House, Ireland, that Edmondson entertained a young William Penn, and converted him to Quakerism. The nexus of the Quaker community that Penn/Edmondson started in Pennsylvania was drawn from Native Irish converts (like my relative Samuel Kelly, and early Quaker) and converts from the English Midlands (like my relatives Hannah Belton, the grandmother of Hannah Milhouse, Richard Nixon’s mother). Many of this initial mixed group of Irish/English Quakers moved en masse to Indiana eventually.

    The Irish were in the US South and Mid-Atlantic by the early 1600’s. And essentially the Southern ethos that many associate with “Borderers”, “Scotch-Irish” or whatever, is actually just “Irish”, albeit Irish from the Eastern, Central and South East Ireland – roughly Leinster and part of Munster – not from the heavily Gaelic areas in the West, South West and North West.

    As an example, I am Irish from Ireland, with my 8 GGrandparents lived within 30 miles of each other, around Laois, Ireland, and my 16 GGGrandpatents lived within 45 miles of each other, all within East Central Ireland. On 23andme, I have over 2,500 relatives, more than most Colonial Americans, more than anyone else except Ashkenazi Jews and Finns. 2/3rds of these relatives worldwide are located in just 5 US States, as follows:
    1. North Carolina
    2. South Carolina
    3. Tennessee
    4. Kentucky
    5. Indiana

    The most distant ancestor I’ve traced is an Edward Nowlan (aka Nolan), born in County Carlow, Ireland, who arrived in the Carolinas in 1665 as a 12yo slave boy. He had been captured by Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers, branded and sold into slavery, along with 100,000 other Native Irish children, at the time.

    • Murphy says:

      I’m Irish as well but I think you may not have the most accurate information.

      Where is your 100,000 children figure coming from?

      The only source I can find that comes close on that is that old article.

      Even that doesn’t specify children. is typically a pretty shoddy source. Things on there can be true but they’re not in good company, for example chemtrails, 911 truthers and articles like “North Korea, a Land of Human Achievement, Love and Joy”

    • Eponymous says:

      And essentially the Southern ethos that many associate with “Borderers”, “Scotch-Irish” or whatever, is actually just “Irish”, albeit Irish from the Eastern, Central and South East Ireland – roughly Leinster and part of Munster – not from the heavily Gaelic areas in the West, South West and North West.

      I’m pretty sure that’s wrong. Just look at the religious evidence. Not a lot of Catholics in these areas.

      • Paul Conroy says:


        And that’s what I mean by “American ignorance” of history!

        The earliest Irish in the US:
        1. Converts to protestantism – often with name change or Anglicization, such as:
        – O’Mulvihill –> Melville
        – O’Braoilachan –> Bradley
        – McGowan –> Smith
        2. Irish Catholic slaves – up to 100,000 in the US South
        3. Irish soldiers – up to 35,000 in the US South

        Catholic priests were not allowed to operate in the colonies till 150 years after the original Irish settled there, so they became protestants.
        The first practicing Catholic priests in the South, were French Acadian from Louisiana.

      • James Kabala says:

        I can’t agree with all that Mr. Conroy says (especially the dreaded reference to “Irish slaves” – to the limited extent that people who could be called that existed, they ended up in Antigua). But he is right that “Irish Protestants not from Ulster” were a larger group in the 18th century than most people realize, and they often ended up in the U.S.

        • Paul Conroy says:

          James Kabala,

          Completely incorrect, are you American by any chance?!

          Irish slaves were first used in Barbados, then other islands in the British Caribbean, then the Carolinas.

          I have DNA relatives today in Barbados, Bermuda, Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guyana.

          Here’s a 1976 documentary that I watched as a kid in Ireland:

          The Black guy singing the Irish ballad even ends with a phrase in Irish Gaelic – this after 400 years!

          • James Kabala says:

            I should have said “Barbados” (or just “the Caribbean” in general) rather than “Antigua.” Barbados was their main destination, as you note. Thank you for the correction.

            But otherwise:

            Indentured servant convicts exiled to the Caribbean certainly had hard lives. The death rate in the early days was high enough that the two main differences from slavery (not for life and not hereditary) were often meaningless. But legally they were not slaves. No one would claim that the somewhat similar exiled convicts in early Australia were slaves.

            And most indentured servants in the future U.S. were not convicts at all but voluntary migrants.

      • Deiseach says:

        Not a lot of Catholics in these areas.

        Pre-Famine emigration would have been equally, or even more, Protestant (which means a mixed bag of Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and other smaller sects). There are quite a lot of ballads referring to emigration from Ulster going to America, driven out by high rents and lack of opportunity:

        ’tis not for the want of employment at home
        That causes the son of ould Ireland to roam,
        But the rates were gettin’ higher and I could no longer stay
        So farewell unto you bonny, bonny, Slieve Galleon Braes.

        Our isle it will be green and our cottages be gay
        Our children will be clothed and our wives will drink strong tea
        Oh you tyrannising landlords – I will no longer stay
        So farewell unto to you bonny bonny Slieve Galleon Braes

        Famine and post-Famine (1845-48 for the Famine, up to today for post-Famine) emigration tilted heavily Catholic, due to the most deprived and hardest-hit areas being the poorer, west of the Shannon areas which (for historical reasons) were Catholic.

    • Deiseach says:

      the four great English migrations to America

      Don’t call us English 🙂

      Secondly, when you’re talking about Borderers, that supposedly takes in Scots-Irish. So who are the Scots-Irish? Ulster Irish, or a mix of Scottish and Ulster Irish? Borderers in the English context are that disputable mix of Lowland Scots (who are not the same as the Highlanders) and the Northern English. And go back far enough, you’re talking about an admixture of Viking (which could be Norse or Danish) in there as well.

      Speaking of the Irish, are we talking native Irish, Scottish and English settlers-descended Irish from the Plantation of Ulster who did not intermingle with the natives, or the Anglo-Irish/Ascendancy? William Penn the Quaker was of English stock, his father having been awarded lands in Ireland by Cromwell, and Lord Baltimore of Maryland – a Cavalier, by this measure – was another. So even talking about the “Scotch-Irish” is a tangle of populations, not one coherent heritage.

      I imagine it’s much the same for the other groups on that map.

      • Paul Conroy says:


        My surname is Conroy from Laois, descended from Tadhg Óg Ó Duinn the O’Duinn chiefs of Oregan in North Co Laois. By as early as the 1570’s the younger brother of the chief (Tanaiste) had converted to protestantism. He and other Ó Duinn family members later took part in the Plantation of Ulster, around 1620’s, as protestants, in Antrim!

        So my Native Irish relatives would be classified as Ulster-Scots today?!

        Quote: (Tadhg=Tady/Thady, Oregan=Iregaine, Ó Duinn=Doyne)

        Letter Directing Attorney-General to draw up Fiant for Letters Patent. 26 November 1608.
        By the Lord Deputie.
        To the attorney general.
        We greete yow well. Where the King’s most excellent Majestie by his highnes letters under the signet dated the 29th of July 1608 hath signified unto us his Majesties pleasure on the behalf of Capten Thady Doyne esquire Cheiffe of his name, that his highnes is graciouslie pleased in Consideration of the said Tady is good service heretofore done to his highnes to graunt unto the said Thady his heyres and assignes the Contry of Iregaine and all the lands, tenements, tythes and hereditaments therein and thereto belonginge and all fellons goods and deodands therein happeninge, to be held of his highnes, his heyres and successors in Free and Comon Soccadge as of his Majesties castle of Dublin. And further to graunt full power and authoritie unto the said Thady, his heyres and assignes at his and their will and pleasure to hould and keepe within the said Contry of Iregaine in such fitt places at such convenient time Courte Leete and Courte Barrons, marketts and Fayres, as to us shalbe thought fitt. Theise are therefore to will and requier yow forthwith to make a Fyant or Fyants in due forme of Lawe of the particuler appearinge under Mr. Surveyor’s hand in the scedule hereunto anexed, and all other lands of right the said Thady hath or ought to have in the said contrey of Iregaine, Tythes, felons goods, deodans, Fayres, marketts, and other the premisses unto the said Thady his heyres and assignes to be houlden of his highnes as aforesaid. Incertinge therein such further ordinary Clauses as in such letters Patents are usuall. And leavinge blanks for the times and places for the said Courts, Fayres, marketts. And such Fiant or fiants so made to send unto us fayer written ingrossed in parchment under your hand that wee maie give further order for passinge the same unto the said Thadye under the greate seale of this Realme. And for your doeinge thereof this shalbe your warrant.
        Given at his Majesties Castle Dublin this 26th of November 1608.

  4. Dr Dealgood says:

    From the Supplemental data:

    Pennsylvania. In the second-level hierarchical clustering, we identify a cluster with birth
    locations concentrated in Pennsylvania (Table 1, Fig. 3, Supplementary Fig. 19). Roughly
    80,000 Germans immigrated to the colonies in North America between 1717 and 1775, with the
    majority settling in Philadelphia, southeast Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. By 1760, 50,000
    Germans had settled in southeast Pennsylvania alone. At the time, Germans constituted the
    largest ethnic group in the colony with a distinct language, religious culture, and identity28.
    German immigrants tended to marry within their ethnic group and remained geographically
    stable for many generations28. While this demography may not encompass the entire history of
    the Pennsylvania cluster, it provides some background for the genealogical data associated with
    individuals assigned to this cluster.

    This confirms a strong suspicion that I had, that the Pennsylvania cluster was not (predominately) descended from Quakers.

    Even in 2010 German-Americans were 28.5% of all Pennsylvanians, the largest ethnic group and a large plurality of whites. And historically, the state has been German ever since Ben Franklin was railing against them. Until Americanization in WWI they even largely maintained their language as well as parallel political and cultural institutions.

    The Quakers, on the other hand, don’t seem to have left much of a demographic mark. They gave us Nixon and most of John Sidle’s favorite reading material but are much more intellectually prolific than, well, prolific.

    • cassander says:

      David Fischer talks extensively about the heavy leavening of germans in with the quaker migration.

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        I’ve never read the book myself. That fact certainly seems not to have gotten through to the reviewers at any rate: this is the first mention I’ve heard of him admitting that the “Quaker” bloc isn’t actually descended from the Quakers.

        Even if you want to call it cultural transmission, PA NJ and NY locals seem a hell of a lot more Germanic than British. I think there was another Alibion’s Seed esque book which made that very point actually.

        • James Kabala says:

          In the last chapter of the book he tries to claim four noted World War II figures as exemplars of the traditions: Roosevelt (mostly Yankee in ancestry despite the Dutch surname) for the Puritans/Yankees, Marshall for the Cavaliers, Eisenhower for the Quakers/Germans, and Patton for the Scotch-Irish/Borderers. (He becomes very determined to bring the story into the present-day: in the same chapter he refers to Grace Kelly as a model of someone who assimilated to her local Quaker/German/Philadelphian culture despite being Irish Catholic. Perhaps he was unaware that she was actually half-German!)

  5. Vermillion says:

    This is easily the third neatest genetic factoid I’ve learned about recently.

    The second is how mammals have placentas because of how our ancestors incorporated ancient viruses into our DNA.

    The first was an anecdote from a lecturer about ancient DNA, who talked about how in the 90s people were extracting DNA from dinosaurs, except all those studies had to be retracted because of contamination. And what they thought was dinosaur DNA probably came from a ham sandwhich.

  6. Paul Conroy says:

    Another thing, in terms of genetics, Irish people have greater Scandinavian ancestry than Britain on average. The Mormons are about 80% British and Irish, plus 20% Danish. Yet, my father, who is 15/16th Native Irish and 1/16 Yorkshire, England, on every admixture analysis looks primarily like he’s a Mormon genetically (aka a member CEU population cluster).

    Also, Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism is Y-DNA M222 – a haplogroup originating in Ireland and accounting for about 20% of Irish males – including my father and myself. Genealogists now realize that his supposed English ancestry does not check out at all. They now think he is descended from an Irish Indentured servant in New England. But the point is that he has thousands or maybe tens of thousands of descendants among Mormons.

    • Otzi Ozbjorn says:

      Could you provide support for your assertion that there are thousands of Joseph Smith descendants among the Mormons?

      My understanding is that none of the known descendants of Joseph Smith Junior and his first wife Emma Hale Smith joined the Brighamite migration to the Utah territory.

      Geneticist Ugo Parego has searched for evidence of Joseph Smith Jr markers in descendants of known polygamous wives of Joseph Smith. All have proved negative.

      As far as I know, there are no direct descendants of Joseph Smith Jr. among the main stream Mormon population in the American West. The sons of Joseph and Emma founded the RLDS church, now the Community of Christ.

      L.D.S church president Joseph Fielding Smith Sr. was the son of Joseph Smith’s brother Hyrum. He had 48 children, and so there is Smith DNA in the modern Mormon population, but not direct descendants of Joseph Smith Jr.

      • Paul Conroy says:

        I’m was referring to the study that tested 5 male relatives of Joseph Smith, descended from the same patriline – which found they all matched, and all were R1b-M222, but were not related to other supposed Smith relatives on collateral branches.
        So it would seem that Smith was originally an Irish Indentured servant to someone called Smith, or his original Irish name had been McGowan (where Gowan is the anglicization of the Gaelic word for Smith) and it was rendered Smith.

        The point being that there is Irish ancestry in the Utah Mormons, and if they match the New Englanders, as in being in the same cluster, ergo, the “New Englander” cluster contains Irish ancestry.

        My best guess is that all these clusters do not represent a pure ethnic or regional identity, but more likely tally to a breeding population that was sufficiently isolated for a number of generations to create a semi-stable grouping. Such groupings/clusters are much more likely to track religion, IMO, rather than ethnicity!

  7. registrationisdumb says:

    This actually does a terrible job of explaining liberal vs conservative demographics.

    Population density correlates far more strongly.

  8. Subb4k says:

    I’m very unfamiliar with genetics and also unfamiliar with the language of statistics, so it’s highly plausible that I’m missing something. But it seems to me that the dots on the map mean “if we take individuals with ancestry in this region between generations y and z, then the odds that they are in this cluster are at least x:1”. Given that in most situations y is going to be at least 3, I would guess that this map doesn’t indicate very well the current genetic makeup of the US.

    Can someone well-versed in stats and genetics confirm this?

    Here are the relevant quotes from the article if you want to check whether I’m completely wrong without having to click it:

    Only birth locations with OR>x within indicated generations y–z are plotted, in which parameters x, y, z are chosen separately per cluster to better visualize the cluster’s historical geographic concentration

    To discover geographic features characteristic of a given cluster, we compile statistics from genealogical data specific to each cluster. Specifically, we compute, for each grid point, the odds ratio (OR) for a given cluster—the odds that the grid point is associated with a cluster member over the odds that the grid point is associated with a non-member—then we visualize the distribution of map locations with the largest odds ratios. One rationale for using the OR statistic is that it is informative of cluster prediction accuracy; if we label all map locations with OR>x as ‘ground-truth cluster locations’, then cluster assignments will yield a higher rate of true positives (recovered ground-truth cluster locations) for larger x (assuming the map location frequency remains the same). To highlight the geographic concentration of individual clusters in Fig. 4, we plot only locations satisfying OR>x, with x chosen separately for each cluster. All plotted map locations require a minimum of 10 birth locations associated with cluster members. In some cases, the geographic concentration of birth locations becomes more apparent when the OR calculations are restricted to certain pedigree generations; for example, the birth locations of ancestors 0–5 generations ago associated with the Utah cluster are more highly concentrated in Utah, and other ancestral generations are more dispersed across the eastern United States (Supplementary Fig. 24).

  9. Bond says:

    At first glance, I thought this mapped a bit better than the Albion’s model, but the more I look at it, the more I have trouble with the idea of a big genetic/cultural divide between Eastern Kentucky and the majority of West Virginia. To most folks, I think those areas feel very similar – classic Borderer Appalachia.

    I wonder if there’s some reporting artifacts in the mix, especially in areas with low population density.. There’s just an awful lot of very visible post-1800 arbitrary boundaries – the northern and southern borders of Arkansas, or the state line between Southern Indiana and Ohio. It’s just a little hard to imagine major genetic/cultural faultlines running straight through the Ozarks, or between Greensburg, IN and Lebanon, OH..

    • JulieK says:

      I think what it shows is that cultural divides don’t line up with genetic ones, at least in that region.

  10. HeelBearCub says:

    This post feels like “my priors could be confirmed by this research, therefore this research must confirm my priors”.

    Also, there seems to be some sort of false specificity to that map, or I am missing something, because it doesn’t seem to capture any black people (save “Dominicans” and “Caribbeans”) at all?

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      If you look at the the second half of figure 3, they do have African Americans mapped out.

      But that map is suspicious IMO. The south does have a large black population, but many northern cities are black majority. There ought to be little gold dots scattered all over the map.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I’m really unclear on what the size of the dots mean.

        Point size is scaled by number of birth location annotations in the cluster at the given location

        Two spots, which appears to be in eastern NC, but might supposed to be Durham/Raleigh, has more blacks than Atlanta? Charlotte, NC doesn’t show up? Chicago doesn’t show up?

        • Dr Dealgood says:


          When I’m done with my work today and I’ve bought my V-day gift, I’ll try to read this paper in depth a bit more.

          I think Will downthread may be right and we’ve totally misinterpreted what the “birth locations” refer to. If so, that would explain some things. But I’d like to see that myself.

        • eccdogg says:

          Yeah not sure what the size of dots mean, but they seem to mirror what a map of something like what AA population as a percentage of total would look like. Several of those counties in NE NC are >50% AA.

          See the map on page 11

          I think Atlanta is showing up, there is a small dot where it should be. But most of those other places have a lot of AA, but not >25% of population.

      • secondcityscientist says:

        If you get a chance, you should check out the supplemental data. Figure S19 has individualized maps for each cluster, rather than the mashed-together F3 that Scott posted (F3 looks great as the lead image on a blog post, but the individualized ones are more informative IMO). S19K has the African American population and it looks just like you’d expect – Southern across the ‘black belt’ and large populations in northern cities, especially Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis.

        While the de novo clustering is good, I’m pretty suspicious of a lot of the non-American-ancestry stuff since the data underlying that appears to be self-reporting rather than genotypic data. So while some people will have good information on who their ancestors were and where they came from, many will not and reporting from those people will be either suspect or incomplete.

  11. Eponymous says:

    There aren’t too many actual descendants of the Quakers kicking around Pennsylvania, so I wonder what the light blue dots correspond to. My guess is German — i.e. the Pennsylvania Dutch.

    Personally, I’m about 3/8 Appalachian (or possibly 1/8 Appalachian and 1/4 upland South), 1/4 New Englander, 1/8 Pennsylvanian, and 1/4 recent (4th gen) German immigrant.

    I’m still skeptical of the Albion seed model, but this data certainly supports it. Also, while anecdotal, my grandfather (a Scotch-Irish/German cross) claims that those two communities didn’t intermarry much, and so his parents’ marriage was a bit of a scandal. I don’t think the issue was ethnic as much as it was religious (Presbyterian vs. Lutheran). This also supports the idea of relatively clear genetic/cultural descent from initial clusters. And under this logic, the clusters may have a religious basis.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      There aren’t too many actual descendants of the Quakers kicking around Pennsylvania, so I wonder what the light blue dots correspond to. My guess is German — i.e. the Pennsylvania Dutch.

      Yes, it seems like you’re right.

      For some reason while the authors break down Scandinavians by nationality very carefully, Germans and British are lumped together in the section on admixture. It would be great to actually see that rather than having to take the authors’ word on it.

      Edit: I’m dumb, Finns aren’t ethnically Scandinavian. Either way I’d like to see a more fine-grained breakdown.

  12. Oleg S. says:

    The obvious kabbalistic explanation of these patterns have to do with the American flag.

  13. Will says:

    Scott, I think you at least somewhat misunderstanding the paper (I don’t totally understand it either). The locations on the map are where the ancestors lived X-Y generations ago, not the current locations. I guess the authors of the paper have a different aim than you. I think this explains the sparsity of points in the West: New Mexicans and Mormons settled there relatively early, so they show up, but there’s not much to see in California where the population increased by 10x over the last 3 generations,

    • moridinamael says:

      This makes sense. I was staring at Texas/Louisiana trying to come up with a plausible explanation for that pattern, because I know for a fact that all the populations along the Gulf Coast have been interbreeding madly for as many generations as I can trace back easily, and traveling all over the country to do so. Take any white Houstonian and you’ll find ancestry from every European country, and some of that from much more recent waves of immigration than the Great English Migrations. No way is Houston full of Borderers. Maybe there are indeed some isolated corners of Appalachia where people have been interbreeding exclusively with each other for four hundred years, I don’t know. (How would I know, if they never leave?)

      Edit: Lest this be taken as a slur against good hard-working Borderers, what I meant is that there’s no way the populations along the US Gulf Coast are at all ethnically homogeneous.

      • Dissonant Cognizance says:

        I think your perception may be thrown off by looking at Houston, a 20th century oil boomtown, and by the way Borderer culture seems to be readily erased in the face of a locally dominant competitor.

        At least, my own experience was that I always thought of myself as French/Spanish Creole, being from the New Orleans area from a family that’s been there since the French colonial era. After reading American Nations and checking my family tree on, I found that I’m probably 50% Borderer by descent, though the only readily visible cultural artifact is my grandmother’s accent.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      They have plenty of pedigrees of ancestors in CA 3 generations ago, so they could have drawn the map to describe those people, which I think would have been substantially more Puritan than today. It is blank because of scaling the dots to reflect the number of pedigrees, so that it reflects population size in the past. This is a kind of measure of statistical significance, but it seems like a waste to me.

    • Chilam Balam says:

      Yes, this. As far as I can tell the methodology was as follows:
      1) Take a large database of genetic data from
      2) Run PCA, and cluster analysis
      3) Assign people to cluster
      4) For each person, Ancestry has detailed genealogies with birth locations for ancestors. Therefore, for every person in the database, record where their parents were born by cluster. So if you are in cluster #1, tally everywhere your ancestors were born in the USA as having one person descended from there with cluster #1. Do this for every person. At the end, you’ve got a grid over the USA which maps from grid square to how many people in each cluster had ancestors here
      5) Color each grid’s dot with the largest cluster having ancestors there. So if in one square there were 10 ancestors of people in cluster 1 born and there and 15 of cluster of two (and zero of everyone else), color it cluster 2. Scale each grid’s dot by the number of total “pedigree annotations”, that is the total number of people with ancestor’s who were born there.

      So really what this is saying is that: Most White Americans fall into five clusters, whose origins are roughly from wide latitude bands on the East Coast, but tells us nothing about who lives where. There are smaller groups of “intact immigration clusters”: Finnish, Scandinavian, Jewish and Irish ancestries, African American, Polynesian (they label this “Hawaiian”, but then say it’s for all Polynesians), Acadian, and French Canadian who have not folded into these broader five. African Americans are labelled mostly inn the South because that’s where most of they’re ancestors come from, not because most of them live there.

      They then see various Hispanic groupings: New Mexican, Northeast Mexico, West Mexico, Dominican, “Caribbean” which overall they find very hard to separate.

      Then there are five “assimilated immigrant clusters” which account for 60% of the total sample, which flow from east to west petering out about where Americans had settled in 1865.

      This is the key paragraph:
      ” The five largest clusters (third set of rows in Table 1), which we describe as assimilated immigrant clusters, account for a large portion (60%) of the IBD network and exhibit a markedly different profile. Lacking distinctive affiliations to non-US populations, they show almost no differentiation in allele frequencies (FST at most 0.001; Supplementary Table 5) and high levels of IBD to non-cluster members (Supplementary Data 2), suggestive of high gene flow between these clusters. Moreover, few members of these clusters could be assigned to a stable subset, indicating that this clustering is largely driven by continuous variation in IBD. Genealogical data reveal a north-to-south trend (Fig. 5), most consistently east of the Mississippi River (Fig. 3). These findings imply greater east-west than north-south gene flow, which is broadly consistent with recent westward expansion of European settlers in the United States, and possibly somewhat limited north-south migration due to cultural differences. While the precise numbers and boundaries of these clusters are not necessarily meaningful and may be partly driven by the assumption that inter-cluster connectivity follows a random graph model39,40, these findings demonstrate that isolation-by-distance, and specifically geography in the continental United States, can be captured from IBD alone.”

      Then there are some other clusters: the amish, mormons, appalachians, who seem to have high admixture but remain distinct (?).

      Overall I found this graph probably the most interesting as it has modern population values:
      It puts every state over the two principal components, and we see a broad curve from New England to the everywhere else and America, to the South with New Mexico, Hawai’i, and Lousiana as outliers. Confirming, roughly, that the big split is between north and south, with most of the USA as a mixture of the two.

      Also, as they point out, subtly, this whole effort is pretty biased by who cares for genealogy, is not representative. White people, mormons, and the rich are probably over represented (my guess), and African Americans are badly represented (from them).

  14. Urstoff says:

    Is there any work on the genesis of those groups in Britain, and how they hold up in modern Britain?

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Supplementary Figure 18 (p51-73) the main clusters reproduced by Jayman (search for “supplementary info”), is maps for each cluster showing where their ancestors came from in Europe.

      • Urstoff says:

        What’s the deal with Hessia and the surrounding area? It seems like the highest density area in mainland Europe for any of the white populations.

        Maybe because that’s part of the area where the Celts originated?

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Dots in Europe are where Americans claim to have traced their ancestors, not genetic analysis of Europeans. It is 9 generations ago, not 90. Hessians are famous in America for immigrating. Is it Hessia or Rhineland? Probably it’s just that the Rhine was fertile, producing excess population.

        • Emerich says:

          The Celts speak an Indo-European language, so presumably they “originated” from the same place as the other Indo-E speakers, i.e., between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea in what is now modern-day Russia. The Celts moved around Europe, subject to the usual pressures from other populations, and were eventually displaced by the various Germanic tribes (who were also Indo-European).

  15. vpaul says:

    Doesn’t the conservatism of Mormons / Utah cut against a possible “circle of ‘Liberal Democrats = Puritan/Quaker population subgroup'”?

    I’m also curious (though not enough to take the time to read the paper) how the statistics behind this works. I would assume that more recent in-country migration to NC, Florida, Arizona, Nevada and California would strongly dilute original ethnic make up of sending / receiving states. Also, socio-economic differences in those moving (which would probably be correlated with much of this) could potentially confound.

    • JayMan says:

      Doesn’t the conservatism of Mormons / Utah cut against a possible “circle of ‘Liberal Democrats = Puritan/Quaker population subgroup’”?

      Oversimplication is never a good thing.

      Look at the Trump vote.

    • herbert herberson says:

      Mormons happily and eagerly support a large institution that serves both as a safety net and as a vehicle for a specific agenda, even though that institution can sometimes be quite intrusive. In contemporary politics, the fact that said institution is a church instead of a government makes a big difference, but on a temperamental/psychological level I think there’s a clear comparison.

  16. Alex Zavoluk says:

    Wait, is the Mormon / Northeast connection really disputed? The whole movement started in New England, in particular in Vermont and upstate New York, and one of the most important sites in Mormondom to this day is still there. They moved to Illinois while Joseph Smith was still alive and then to Utah immediately afterwards.

  17. Briefling says:

    For a community mildly obsessed with the shortcomings of social science, HOW can y’all be so credulous about these results?

    Let me tell you, I have done a lot of clusterings in my life, and I have NEVER seen a good-faith clustering that lines up with my preconceptions as well as this clustering lines up with the authors’.

    I say this quite apart from the fact that even if the methodology is good (which I doubt!), it sounds like they are not actually talking about the modern-day makeup of these regions.

    • Elephant says:

      Strongly seconded. I wish I had time to read the paper — maybe in a few days — but no clustering in lab animal biology that I’ve ever seen looks this clean, nevermind data about real human populations. I’m deeply skeptical, and I encourage people to look at the study carefully.

  18. Douglas Knight says:

    And I guess we still haven’t ruled out the maximally boring explanation that interbreeding is entirely geographic and north-south is a bigger distinction than east-west so we’re just seeing the country divided into five equal-sized latitudinal bands.

    That’s probably the case with everyone but the Puritans: Puritans vs Blue Red, Purple, Gold. The places in the British Isles that the three kinds of southerners have traced their ancestors to are identical, with Blue only a little different. In terms of continental ancestry, the three southern clusters vary more, but not much. Blue is, of course, heavily German and the main continental difference among southerners is that the German contribution decreases as you go south.

    So Red/Purple/Gold don’t reflect pre-colonial structure. Are they meaningful clusters at all, or just an artifact of applying clustering to a gradient?

    This is a refutation of much of Fisher. Red really is Puritans from East Anglia and Blue really is German. The Quakers may have a cultural impact in Pennsylvania, but failure to find a difference in the British ancestry between Blue and the South is definite is a strike against Fisher. The failure to distinguish Borderers from other Southerners is another strike against him. But it may be a failure of the algorithm to find that structure, rather than its nonexistence. In fact, it did find a small Appalachian cluster (as opposed to the big lower-midwest-appalachian cluster), but it doesn’t seem to have any different British ancestry, either. (Its ancestry map looks different because a lot of small dots are erased, but I think that is just because it is smaller so fewer origins are statistically significant.)

    • Douglas Knight says:

      As Chilam quotes, the paper concedes that clustering doesn’t really work with the big groups and pretty much endorses the “maximally boring explanation,” not just for the three southern clusters, but also for the Germans and Puritans.

      The ancestry maps make the two northern groups appear different from the southern groups and from each other, but they are based on self-reported ancestry, which could be false. It’s probably a lot easier to trace your First Families ancestry than your indentured ancestry. Maybe the north-south differences are fake, based on desire by northerners to claim Mayflower ancestry and southerners to claim First Families ancestry. German DNA would show whether the Blue cluster really is German. English DNA would help assess whether the Northeast cluster really is from East Anglia, but it would be tricky.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Actually, 9 generations ago isn’t long enough to address Fischer’s claims about origins. He is mainly talking about the 17th century.

      And most of the maps of cluster ancestors mix together the 3-9 generations ago. And there is a lot more data from 3 generations ago, which swamps the 9th generation, if they aren’t careful. So probably the maps are really just saying that recent British immigration to America had no correlation between origin and destination. If they are just saying that for the 19th century, that is not so surprising. If they are saying that for the 18th century (ie, the 9 generations ago), that is surprising but not quite contradicting Fischer. The one exception is that East Anglia did keep sending people to New England.

      But they do say that the clusters are only barely endogamous and probably not really clusters at all, just a north-south spectrum. And they claim that the clusters are not genetically distinct. This is a quantitative claim and I don’t how it compares to Fischer’s prediction.

  19. wintermute92 says:

    Outside of its unified populations (i.e. the Mormons) the Mountain West is pretty exceptional in degree of waves-of-immigrants and modern-era immigration.

    Like, there’s a town in the mountain Northwest, a large one, where ~20% of the population immigrated within the last century thanks to a government hiring decision. The common trait of the immigrants is “respectable university degree” – beyond that they’re a random mashup from both East and West coasts, plus a bunch of directly-international immigrants.

    More broadly, exceedingly low population has allowed fixed-size initiatives (“we’ll pay $10,000,000 for research”) to produce high-percentage changes out there.

  20. OriginalSeeing says:

    The gold region is the Deep South. It’s the largest region Albion’s Seed leaves out of the picture which was added into the follow up book American Nations by Colin Woodard. The Deep South is very obviously distinct from the borderers/Appalachians and is required for understanding the entire overall model.

  21. jhertzlinger says:

    Why would this explain liberal politics in Massachusetts when Massachusetts and Utah usually vote in opposite directions?

    • Paul Conroy says:

      IMO, Utah Mormons have best retained the Puritan ethic of New England.

      While today’s New England is in thrall to the laissez faire Irish Catholic ethos!

    • Nornagest says:

      There isn’t a one-to-one mapping between culture and politics. You could for example — and I’m presenting this as more of a toy example than a serious explanation, but it illustrates the general pattern — imagine that people of Puritan cultural heritage are for some reason more prone to taking ideas seriously; but when you apply that tendency to generic cosmopolitan culture, you get Massachusetts, and when you apply it to the Mormon Church, you get Utah.