Irish Immigration in the 1840's: Escaping the Great Famine

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Looking for a better life away from death, oppression, and destruction the Irish headed to America by the thousands in the 1840’s. Ireland’s staple food was the potato, it was the main means of subsistence for the poor. Then in the 1840’s cataclysm struck, the potato blight caused famine, disease, death and despair. Close to a million deaths were blamed on the potato blight in Ireland. The potato blight was caused by a disease that rendered the potatoes inedible. It lasted for several years, from 1845-1849 the country suffered great hardships, sickness, and death. The blight was the final straw to push many immigrants out of Ireland and to America looking for a chance of survival (Marger, 2015, pg. 284) The potato famine was not the only reason …show more content…

Yet, they were not black either, instead they were classified as in-between the two. Irish only slightly stood above blacks in the racial hierarchy. It took several decades before they received full “white” status (pg. 292). Slowly throughout the 19th century the Irish made their way out of poverty into middle-class status, by taking advantage of growing industrialization. 2nd generation immigrants were able to use labor unions for upper ward mobility into middle-class. Then post WWII many Irish took advantage of the GI Bill, which allowed them to go to college and get low mortgages. Today Irish are still a strong part of America’s middle class (pg. 290). 170 years after the potato blight sent the Irish to America they are said to have assimilated to the point of over-acculturalization. Today Catholicism and St. Patricks’ day are the only things that differentiate this group from other Anglo-American groups. Not only were they able to conform to mainstream society they have been referred to as America’s favorite group (pg. 294). Although they are still characterized today as heavy drinkers and fighters, they are no longer considered sub-human and

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