Irish Americans - Europe—a situation that would soon...

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Irish Americans • The Irish came to the New World as early as Columbus. The wave of newcomers would later swell to the extent that people of Irish descent in the United States today outnumber those living in Ireland by three to one. • The Irish Catholics were an oppressed ethnic group in their native homeland as well as in their adopted homeland, the United States. In the 1640s, when Oliver Cromwell’s English troops defeated the army of Charles Stuart, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, they forced thousand of Irish Catholics off the land to which they had legal title, executed thousands more, and sent others to live in the bleak, infertile western territories of Ireland. Many more were transported as slaves to Virginia. • In the 1690s, the discriminatory Penal Laws were enacted by the British Parliament. These laws reduced the Catholics, a numerical majority (about 75 percent) in Ireland, to the status of minority group. • At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Ireland was the most densely populated country in
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Unformatted text preview: Europe—a situation that would soon change. In the 1820s the first potato crop failure in Ireland occurred, and starvation followed. By the 1840s a much more devastating form of potato blight destroyed almost half of the basic subsistence food crop of the Irish Catholics. Many saw no choice but to abandon their country and move to the United States. This massive movement of people has been referred to as the flight from hunger , and the Irish immigrants of the 1840s and 1850s became known as famine Irish . • The potato famine was one of the greatest disasters of modern Western Europe. In the space of a decade Ireland lost 2.5 million people, probably less than half by migration. Between 1847 and 1850 somewhere between one million and 1.5 million Irish Catholics died while the British government did little to save them. Indeed, it continued to export agricultural products from Ireland and to clear tenants off the land....
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