English 9A E
8 May 2013`
Irish Immigration Irish acceptance into American Society has been hard fought. Even though there have been famous and successful Irish-Americans, when they first arrived in the country they were not welcomed. This was due to the fact they were the largest group of poor immigrants the United States had experienced up to that time. The Irish fled their homeland due to a terrible famine, and the country was not prepared for them in many ways. The cities of the east were already settled and had limited space and for newcomers and little tolerance for their culture. Therefore, The Irish population was forced to endure terrible hardships as they tried to make a living for themselves in their new country. Although they were eventually able to overcome it, there was significant socioeconomic, religious, and political discrimination against the Irish immigrant population during the peak of the 19th century. Socioeconomic discrimination occurred against the Irish immigrants as they arrived from Ireland and settled into the cities of America. The Irish came in large numbers looking for clean places to live with running water and plumbing, and their overcrowding of the cities created resentment towards them. In addition, the stress of trying to survive in their new environment caused a change in their behavior. “Back home, the Irish were known for their honesty, law-abiding manners, and chastity. In America, old social norms disintegrated and many of the Irish, both men and women, behaved wildly” (The History Place). Their poverty and miserable living conditions caused them to despair and give up hope for a good living. The native population, because of the Irish behavior took to judging the Irish as poor, unmoral vermin. For these reasons many Americans took it upon themselves to discriminate against the Irish. There were many ways that the natives mistreated the Irish. When Irish immigrants first arrived in the country, they didn’t know where to go and were taken advantage of by con men. “This time it was Boston landlords who sub-divided former Yankee dwellings into cheap housing, charging Irish families up to $1.50 a week to live in a single nine-by-eleven foot room with no water, sanitation, ventilation or daylight” (The History Place). Since many Irish were unskilled they were eager to work for any amount of money. The Irish immigrant’s keenness to work was exploited by many businesses. The resentment that this caused in other groups put pressure on city employers not to hire any Irish workers at all. Their social and economic situation was made worse by the discrimination and caused the Irish to despair. The terrible living and working conditions were a challenge that the Irish eventually overcame using their strong sense of unity. “The Irish organized the first trade unions and conducted strikes when necessary for higher wages, shorter hours, and safer working conditions” (The History Place). By improving their economic situation, the immigrants were able to improve their social situation. Their children were able to attend public schools and become better educated. This allowed the next generation to have better jobs such as lawyers, doctors, and businessmen. In time, the Irish proved their hard work was all not in vain. By enduring the terrible jobs and slums, the Irish were able give their children a future free from discrimination.
Religious prejudice occurred due to the fact that large numbers of Irish-Catholics were emigrating to a mostly Protestant-America. The Protestants thought that Catholics would not show loyalty to their new country because of their allegiance to their Catholic leaders. The head of the Catholic Church was located in Rome and not in the United States. “Many American Protestants held the simplistic view that if the numbers of Roman Catholics were increasing then the power and influence of the Papacy in America was