Ethnic Groups and Discrimination Essay

Submitted By larimerk
Words: 820
Pages: 4

Ethnic Groups and Discrimination

I belong and identify with the ethnic group known as the Irish American. The Irish have a story that includes famine, discrimination, immigration, religious discrimination, and finally triumph in the face of adversity. The Irish ancestry is almost impossible to trace due to the tragic circumstances in which millions of Irish immigrants were forced to escape to the United States. I have personal experience trying to trace my ancestry back to Ireland and every investigation has ended the same there were no records kept back that far due to how most of the residents from Ireland not only got to the United States, but also because of the condition of most Irish immigrants once they landed in the United States. In 1800 the Union of Ireland Act united The Kingdom of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland, in a short few years the Irish became impoverished and along with the religious prejudice of Protestant Masters to the Catholic Irish many had no choice to immigrate to the United States. In 1845, the great potato rot touched off a mass migration. The disaster eliminated the sole subsistence of millions of peasants, thrusting them over the edge of starvation. For five weary years, the crops remained undependable, and famine swept through the land. Untold thousands perished, and the survivors, destitute of hope, wished only to get away (Handlin, 1972). The United States would be the next step in the Irish story, although the trip would not be easy, many Irish paid $15 to board leaky boats that could take a month to cross the Atlantic. Many did not survive the trip and many of those that did, did not live long enough to make it to Immigration Hall. "Look for the Golden Stairs." That's what immigrants to Boston were told as their ships docked at the pier. So many Irish climbed the steps to Immigration Hall in the 19th century that Boston became known as the Capital of Irish America. Hardworking Irish enlivened the city with traditional food, music, and help-your-neighbor politics. Because they also brought poverty and Catholicism, though, Boston's Irish suffered almost as much discrimination in their new land as they had in the country they had fled. (Levinson, Cynthia 2008)
By 1850 one-third of Boston’s population was Irish and local citizens feared their town would be poverty stricken due to the lack of income for the Irish immigrants. Discrimination took over and the mobs attacked Catholic churches and newspapers ran headlines that highlighted the discrimination and called the Irish names like “The miserable gang.” Help wanted signs did not apply to the Irish, most signs explained, and “No Irish should apply.” It appeared that the poverty and living conditions of the United States were not an immediate improvement for the Irish people.
The Irish were employed for as little as 50 cents an hour as general laborers; the Irish were responsible for the expansion of Boston’s roads, subways and tunnels and to spite the dangerous working conditions and the deaths of many Irish. They expanded the town into a major city. The Irish also fought for the Union in the Civil War as the Irishmen of the Ninth Regiment. Over time and because of the Irish people’s loyalty to America, the Irish began to receive respect from long time Boston residents. Still there was concern as Irish political power was becoming