Ethnic Groups and Discrimination

Ethnic Groups and Discrimination - Irish Immigration The...

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Irish Immigration The Irish came to be in the United States through immigration. Throughout the 19th century, nearly four million people migrated from Ireland to America (“Immigration and Immigrants”, 2000). The largest number of immigrants arrived in America throughout the middle of the century due to widespread famine in Ireland that began with the potato blight that killed all the potato crops for several years and led to many thousands of people dying of starvation and diseases that could not be fought off due to lack of nutrition. For the survivors, America offered hope for survival and prosperity. Table 1. Immigration by Nationality, 1820-1900 Immigrants from Ireland Decade Number Percentage of Total Immigration 1820-1830 54,338 35.8 1831-1840 207,381 34.6 1841-1850 780,719 45.6 1851-1860 914,119 35.2 1861-1870 435,778 18.8 1871-1880 436,871 15.5 1881-1890 655,482 12.5 1891-1900 388,416 10.5 Total 3,873,104 20.3 (“Immigration and Immigrants”, 2000) What the Irish people that migrated to America did not expect was the discrimination that they would face once they arrived. The majority of Irish that migrated were Catholic. America had been settled by Protestants, and most Protestants were extremely prejudiced towards the Catholic religion and anyone that practiced it. Irish-Catholics suffered from violent riots and church and convent burnings in several cities including Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, St. Louis, New Orleans, and Louisville (“The Irish Potato”, 2000). Most of the Irish that migrated were extremely poor because they had lost whatever meager belongings they owned during the famine. Many were not even properly clothed and had to accept clothing that was donated to them in order to leave the ship on which they had arrived (Woodham-Smith, 1991). Because they were so impoverished, they were looked down upon by the Anglo-Americans whose families had been in America since the beginning of colonization in America. The higher classes of Americans had already established themselves very well, and were living very comfortably until the over- abundance of Irish showed up on their shores. Now these people worried that the Irish were
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