Boston’s Immigrants: A Study in Acculturation Essay

Boston’s Immigrants: A Study in Acculturation Essay

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Boston’s Immigrants: A Study in Acculturation

Problem: Boston, with the makeup of a promising city, was struggling significantly toward the end of the 18th century and at the beginning of the 19th century. What factors helped alleviate Boston from the middle of the rankings for American cities and guided it to become a model city for other Americans to view? With the mass arrival of people from Europe, why did people of Irish decent seem to be the frontrunners for work in the Boston area? Finally, even though the Irish became the crème of the crop in Boston, why were they frowned upon by both other Europeans and the native Americans?
Theses: Handlin throughout the text explains to us in great detail how Boston’s economic scene struggled greatly, due to the fact that people were taking their businesses outside of the city’s boundaries and that the population was at a standstill. As the city struggled to prosper, an enormous movement that swept across western and central Europe created a mass exodus that led to Europeans settling in Boston; therefore, leading to Boston’s social and economic reconstruction. Of these many different Europeans that fled to Boston, Handlin points out that the Irish were the foundation of capitalism and growth of the city. Because of the Irish’s essential role in the rebuilding of Boston, many Europeans had to find employment elsewhere, and the Americans who had maintained the jobs before their arrival, were pushed aside. This led to divided social classes within the neighborhoods of Boston, but the city learned to survive through tolerance (Handlin 228).
Argument: In the year 1790, Boston was ranked third amongst American cities population wise, but its population began diminishing due ...


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...e by Miss Martineau on page 19. She says, “I know no large city where there is so much mutual helpfulness, so little neglect and ignorance of the concerns of other classes.” I find this hard to believe. After reading this entire book I learned about how the Irish were cast as the scum of society, only important because of their low work wages. What they underwent in the factories was grueling and demanding and they made very little, while a white collared American made a fortune. And did these Americans help support the struggling Irish in anyway? Did they help give the Irish neighborhoods a facelift? No. Americans and other European immigrants showed great neglect toward the Irish, downplaying their role in society until they were viewed as a different race, ranking them at or below the status of the African Americans. That is by no means mutual helpfulness.

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