Puritan migrants fleeing persecution in 17th Century England took a key stream in the Reformed tradition to the northern English colonies. They were joined by Scots, Scots-Irish, Dutch, and many others influenced by Presbyterian and Congregationalist visions of a church free to form society as a covenanted Christian community - a new Israel shaped by Calvin's theology.
The theology of the spiritual responsibility of the individual before God, and a history of conflict in the search for freedom from state interference helped reinforce ideas of republicanism and democracy fuelled by the American wars of Independence. The Rev John Wotherspoon, a Scottish Evangelical, was the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence.
The First and Second Great Awakenings and the development of revivalist theologies shaped the tradition. Jonathan Edwards was a major interpreter of the Calvinist tradition whose influence continues. Divisions between North and South over culture, slave-holding, mirrored those in wider North American society leading to the Civil War.
In South America, the Darien Scheme to form a Scots settlement on the Panama Isthmus in 1698 failed spectacularly, but in the 19th century Presbyterian missionaries from North America grew Presbyterian Churches in Brazil and elsewhere, and Free Church of Scotland missionaries are still active in Peru.
A brief history of Presbyterian Churches in the USA. Timeline
A brief history of the Reformed Church of America
Baptisms, Marriages and Burials in St Andrew's Scots Church, Buenos Aires, 1827-1900
Faith Communities Today - Online Research Project Hartford Seminary.
Hart, D G and Mark A Noll, Dictionary of the Presbyterian & Reformed Tradition in America, IVP, 1999.
Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Online Articles about Sociology of Religion
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Dean R. Hoge, David Roozen eds Understanding Church Growth and Decline, 1950-1978, 1979, together with more recent material written with Kirk Hadaway and others, has some chapters online on the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Online Articles about Sociology of Religion site. These are pdf files and include: Denominational Growth and Decline; New Church Development and Denominational Growth (1950 - 1998): Symptom or Cause?; The Growth and Decline of Congregations; Denominations Grow as Individuals Join Congregations; Growth and Decline in Presbyterian Congregations.
There are references to John A Mackay author of The Other Spanish Christ and The Presbyterian Way of Life, on the following sites: Theology Today Review of Presbyterian Way of Life; Theology Today Memorial Minute; Biography (German) and Bibliography;
Reformiert North and Central America South America
Sunquist, Scott, Caroline N. Becker, eds. A History of Presbyterian Missions, Westminster / John Knox / 2008