June 5th, 1846
It has been estimated that up to 1820 there have been around 650,000 immigrants living in the United States, and one of the most common places people tend to come from is Ireland. In 1770, The United States was filled with approximately 3 million Americans, and 44,000 Irish Immigrants; 68 Americans to one Irish Immigrant. By the 1840s, However, Irish people were almost half of the total United States immigrants. As more and more boats hit the east coast and unload more Irish men and women, it’s safe to say that it won’t be long until almost all US citizens will have Irish blood in them.
“The Great Potato Rot” was one of the most detrimental famines in history, killing off over a million people and forcing almost 1.5 million to find a new home quickly. “The reports continue to be of a very alarming nature, and leave no doubt upon the mind but that the potato crops have failed almost everywhere”, was said by Lord Heytesbury about the disastrous situation. Almost half of the Irish had lived on farms, so the economy was negatively effected on a very large scale. But this was not the worst problem; Potatoes are one of the most available foods in Ireland, and when the non-native fungus travelled to the area put an end to potato growth, the Irish people had to do something to avoid as many deaths as possible. The crop is still yet to reappear, and it looks as if the Irish will keep growing in our community on an exponential scale. There have also been thousands of Irish prisoners, along with European prisoners, that have been sent to our land for no reasoning I can understand.
So tradespeople, teachers, artisans and other people with beneficial professions started immigrating, and found much more opportunity than they ever would in their home country. “I am exceedingly well pleased at coming to this land of plenty. On arrival I purchased 120 acres of land at $5 an acre”, an Irish immigrant said to us. “The whole year round — every day here is as good as Christmas day in Ireland”. This land is viewed truly as a dream world for many of the people born outside of it, but should we give them the ability to live here? Millions of immigrants are starting to move to the Land of the free over the past several decades, and the rate of immigration is quickly increasing. When can we put a cap on the population and simply not allow immigrants to push us over that limit? More people equals less resources for each person, since everything has to be spread out more. If our population is to just keep growing we will start to see our way of life decline, and our name as the “Land of Prosperity” will quickly vanish.
Immigrants tend to be willing to do more for less, which is a big benefit in some ways, but also an issue for many working class citizens. Much of the Irish population is currently in construction work, which is very helpful in societal growth, but without the Irish, these jobs would be filled by other American citizens. The point of this definitely that we must be more selective on who’s coming to America and who’s not. Letting as many people enter as we are now is a plan with an easily foreseeable future that isn’t exciting. As the word of success found by immigrant is sent back to Ireland, more people who can scrape up enough money to buy a ticket for transportation are flooding the large number of immigrants.
When the famine started, many of the Irish started focusing on religion. In a letter from Hannah Curtis, an Irish immigrant to her brother in Ireland, Hanna believes that the famine will be a problem only “if the Lord does not do something for the people”. The Irish immigrants were mostly Roman Catholic, and this has been poorly responded to by citizens. Ethnic and Anti-Catholic riots started recently taking place as the numbers of Irish immigrants have been quickly ramping up. People should believe in their own things, but these riots bring up the question as to whether or not people are shoving beliefs that should be personal into other peoples faces. If an immigrant, in this case an Irish man, comes to America, it is important that we give them the ability to believe what they want. According to the newly written constitution, all people should be given freedom of speech, including immigrants. It does, however, cross the line when an Immigrant is being forceful in sharing his or her beliefs, which are foreign to the majority.
With an economic depression taking place, however, it feels like these riots were just taking place because of the frustrated American citizens who now have to compete with the willing and cheap Irish working men. The situation that the Irish people are in currently is dreadful, and we are very fortunate. As a country we need to try and help as much help as we can, but if the population grows too much our way of life will be negatively affected.
(United States becoming the “Melting Pot” story)
(Immigration in the early 1800s)
(Potato Rot Information)
(Quotes from people about the Irish Potato Famine)
(Letter from Hannah Curtis)
(Quotes by Irish people during Potato Rot)
(Primary source documents: Irish Immigrant letters)