Ethnic Groups and Discrimination
In the early years of America the Irish immigrant population in America were very much hated. As a result of this the Irish populations were subjected to many forms of discrimination. In order to understand the reason for the discrimination one must understand the reasoning for the hatred. It all started with what seems to be two basic factors that lead to the hatred.
The population of America at this time was predominantly Protestant or non Catholic Europeans. The Irish were die hard Catholics that did not seem to agree with the religious views of the other Euro-Americans at this time. However the main reason for the hatred and discrimination of the Irish was due to their poor living conditions, and their willingness to work for low wages. (Immigration of the Irish) These low wages made it harder for the already established Protestants to continue to find jobs. Because of their willingness to work for low wages the Irish ...view middle of the document...
Because of this the lower/poorer class Irish were left with the more dangerous jobs. Many Irish lost their lives building America’s early infrastructure.
At the same time the slang English dialect of the Irish began to be hated by all the protestant Americans. The dialect was hard to understand at times and most established American citizens at the time found another reason to resent the Irish. There are countless examples of Irish being put down and degraded because of their poor living conditions and what was seen as a dialect the butchered the English language. One example of this generally oppressive and negative view of the Irish came through illustrations from R.F. Outcault. Outcault showed time and time again of “the assault upon conventional morality.” (Jones)
With the Conscription Act of 1863 which made all white men between twenty and forty five years old eligible for the draft the Irish began to move their way to equality. With this the Irish found themselves fighting alongside of the protestant population in the civil war. The Irish did not have any sympathy for the blacks in slavery. This was due to a fear that the blacks would move north and threaten the jobs that the Irish had dominance in for so long. (Immigration of the Irish).
As the 20th century came along the large number of Irish immigrants living in America began to utilize their strength in number to force their way into the American political arena. As many Irish became successful in politics the Democratic Party increased in power due to Irish influence. This, in the long term, help lead to the Irish becoming part of the American culture. In the end the Irish had a long hard road of discrimination for many reasons when they first got to America. However perseverance, hard work, and determination helped them become apart of the fabric of American culture.
1) Immigration of the Irish: Religious Conflict and Discrimination – For Teachers
Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/immigration/alt/irish5.html
2) Irish Immigration Web resource
3) Jones, Gavin. Strange Talk: The Politics of Dialect Literature in Gilded Age America. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1999.