Irish immigration in the 19th Century

Irish immigration in the 19th Century

A museum is an institution that unravels the story of man, the world, and how humanity has managed to survive in its environment over the years. It provides a rich history through housing things that were created by man, and in contemporary society, it houses the culture of the nation. Museums have found it necessary to redefine their goals in modern society to reflect the expectations of the ever-changing world. The primary function of this exhibition is to articulate the events that lead to the Irish immigration to America, how native people reacted to the arrival of the new people and the survival schemes that they used to survive the cruelty that they underwent under the nativists.

As an institution that holds essential information about the society, it can encourage and promote and foster cultural democracies of the nation. Without being political, the museum can give a voice to the citizenry in matters that concern them, thus creating an avenue for discussion, and that can create confluence where the events that took place can come to light. Through this activity, exhibition, the museum can sensitize people such as teachers, adults, youths, women, and children through discussion. This organized, targeted group can convey the message that can reach the public and carry on the memories worth living. It can be done through popular discussion forums that engage the rich Irish history. Moreover, it will create a deeper understanding of Irish heritage and the agenda for national growth, development, and general emancipation.

 Immigration is not a new thing for a country that is believed to emerge out of immigration. Openness to immigration is a step closer to reaching out to people who are skeptical about the value of immigrants. For instance, throughout history, the United States is considered a country of immigrants. To some extent, though not entirely, the nation was built by foreign-born. Currently, over 13 percent of the country’s citizens are immigrants accounting for almost half of whom are naturalized citizens (American Immigrant Council, 2017). The journey to the United States begun back in the 18th Century. Various factors led to different people to migrate. They include personal freedom, relief from political and religious persecution, land and job shortage as well as feminine. The United States was considered as the land of opportunity where people wanted to start over. It’s estimated that over ten million immigrants settled in the United States by the beginning of the 19th Century.

Over a century and a half ago, it was the Irish who were refugees forced into exile by the humanitarian and political disaster. Even though life in Ireland was cruel, Irish immigration to America was not a joy ride either. The Irish people moved from their home with one goal, never to go back again. The journey to America begun in the 18th Century, when a significant number of Irish people traveled. Constrained by English trade restrictions s imposed by Britain, the Irish, mostly Protestant, from the North decided to search for more significant opportunities on the other side of the Atlantic. Beginning the American Revolution, most of the Irish people had migrated to the United States.

With the booming industrialization in American taking root in the 19th Century, most of the agrarian laborers abandoned their farms to seek factor work in cities. This led to the rapid growth of cities, thus making the mode of connecting cities and harbors a priority to secure trade. The Irish immigrants who landed in America were lucky since they found amble opportunities in factories along with the canons and harbors as well as railroads. They, therefore, concentrated on the eastern seaboard in New England, New Jersey, and New York.

The great feminine that struck Ireland in the 1840s made Irish immigration to take a strikingly new turn. The immigrants were not protestants anymore who had assimilated wealth into America over half a century (Klein). The new wave was l, poor, unskilled, and unfamiliar with the local language as well as urban life. They had little or no prior knowledge of the English language. They only spoke Irish, thus spearheaded hatred from the local people.  Further, they came with a new religion, catholic. Even though America was known for its liberty and tolerance, the feminine Irish were not widely accepted rather met with resentment, hatred, and bigotry.

Many natives came to realize that increased immigration will destroy the existing social fabric of democracy that had taken ages to build. They formed anti-foreigners and anti-Catholic movements that destroyed many schools and properties in the Northwest (Klein). The natives rioted in the streets of New York, Philadelphia, and other cities with landlords shunning the Catholics and factories denying vacancies to the Irish Catholics. With such unfavorable welcoming and hostility, Irish slums intensified. Diseases, filth, crimes, and drugs abuses became rampant in Irish slums. The reason behind the suffering was suspicion from the native people of the majority Anglo-American-protestants coupled with the language barrier as well as illiteracy and limited skills. This made them seek refuge among their kind, thus leading to congestion.

Knowledge of civic responsibility

The exhibition will enable youths, women, teachers, and children to understand various shortcomings that the Irish immigrants faced in the 19th Century and the steps that the country has undertaken to control immigration. According to Abramitzky and Boustan, the review of the historical immigration and the contemporary side by side will yield several insights that will aid in making informed decisions. To begin with, the nature of migration selection has changed tremendously. In the past, migrants’ choice was mixed. For some, they were positively selected, and others were chosen negatively from their homes (Abramitzky and Boustan). For instance, African American immigrants were forced from their homes to America to be working as slaves. This is an example of an adverse selection. Also, those who seek refuge in the past had no record to verify his or her credibility. There could be nonconformists in the midst who could not be identified at the time.

Currently, migrants are positively selected from their country following protocols that are set to determine the credibility of individuals; at least observed characters are taken into account. This is due to the rising income inequalities aids in explaining the positive selection (Abramitzky and Boustan). The fact that the recent immigrants are positively selected from all parts of the world illustrates the increasing cost of entry due to strict immigration restrictions.

Moreover, the inconsistency in the evidence that supports the popular misconception of the American dream whereby the migrants came with nothing and were able to catch up with the native people have little evidence. The evidence in both periods shows that long-term immigrants experience professional or earning growth that is almost the same pace as natives. Consequently, the immigrants who hold lower-paying occupational did not catch up with the natives over a single generation. The primary difference between the past and the present is that typical long-term immigrants held vacancies that were similar to the natives even upon first arrival (“The Integration Of Immigrants Into American Society”). Currently, the average immigrants less as compared to the Native Americans in the same position.

However, smaller earning gaps between the natives and the immigrants are consistence in the sense that immigrants came from countries that are far less than the American economy. Further, there is a substantial degree of heterogeneity in immigrants’ skills, as reflected in the earning. There are cases whereby immigrants earn far more than the natives due to the powers that an individual possesses from the onset.

The history of the Irish Immigrants has though many admirable qualities that need to be incorporated in individual daily lives. Most of the Americans are the descendants of immigrants from many generations who possessed most of these commendable ethics. They include having a do whatever it takes mindset; Irish immigrants did not let discrimination and prejudice pin them down somewhat rose above them and hold on to get what they wanted (M). They got out of their comfort zone and worked hard to get where they were. They took risks and made difficult decisions in hostile and cruel land. A willingness to work hard; most of the immigrants came with nothing but had a fighting spirit. They had to work their way up and catch up with the hostile natives who despised them and even did not want to employ them. They lived in slams, but all they needed is to work hard sacrifice, and integrity. 

Immigrants have a direct impact on the workforce in the United States. They make up a large portion of the U.S. workforce in many industries accounting for over 40 percent of the industries such as fishing, farming as well as forestry workers. They serve as workers, taxpayers, neighbors within the American society; therefore, immigrants are a fundamental part of the thriving nation’s diversity, and their contributions benefit all (American Immigrant Council, 2017). Both illegal and legal immigrants play a pivotal role in economic advancement. They pay taxes as any American citizen. Even though there is no tangible evidence, some sociologists argue that illegal immigrants pay more taxes than the ordinary American citizen.

Also, immigrants constitute a more significant portion of consumers in the United States. In so doing, they add thousands of millions of dollars to the economic advancement of the nation. Different interventions have been put in place to counter any challenges that accrue to the increased immigrants. One of the responses is culturally specific. When developing micro-level culturally responsive interventions, the practitioners set out strategies that support adolescents to help them adapt to the new nations in the right way. Also, improvement in maternity care for immigrant women (Peri, 2010). This has led to the decreased infant mortality rates as well as ensuring women, as well as children, have gotten the care they deserve.

Intercultural competence

The 19th-century nativists did not hide their prejudices and resentment toward foreigners. The self-conscious ones tried to sugarcoat their sentiment or denied that their feeling was not racist in that even their word was meant to expose immigrants’ detrimental flaws. The nativists resented the Irish that they did not see the Irish citizens as worthy of the citizenly. The idea that one of the most massive immigrant growth would be American citizens made them resent them even more. Moreover, they were not assimilable since they were catholic (Hardin). This implies that they had little knowledge of democracy and were disloyal to the United States.

Nevertheless, natives saw many foreigners, including the Irish, as victims of oppression and political disorientation, utterly divested by ignorance and crimes. This is because they were victims of social oppression in the hands of colonizers that siphoned their resources and left them hanging dry (Hardin). Therefore, the nativists presumed that the immigrants, unless they are from Britain, could have the natural ability to appreciate self-governance. The Irish immigrants were regarded as ignorant and foreign in feeling, manners, and prejudice. Yet, they are armed with vast and perhaps controlling influence over the policy of the nation, therefore dangerously unfit to be American citizens. This is to say that they were presumed to lacking intelligence, thus having no ability to self-governance.

Also, since most Irish were weak and lacked skills that could enable them to thrive, the natives concluded that they did not have what it takes for them to move up the world, thus would stagnate the country’s economy. The early Protestants who had come to seek asylum in the land of constitutional liberty were seen as stupid for helping their people (Hardin).  They were, therefore, the inferior specimen of degenerative race, according to nativists. This behavior confirmed the natives’ theory that the Irish were weak in mind, body, and spirit for helping others. The cartoons portray the Irish man resembling an ape showing how natives saw them. This indicates that the natives presumed Irish were inferior to an extent they compare them to apes. 

The most common notion that was present in the Irish people was the non-assimilability of their nature. They were seen as individuals who could not understand their real democracy, and their inferiority lies in the fact that they are catholic. The natives viewed them as being imbued in papal allegiance, thus blinded to see the freedom that they have been presented. The feminine Irish American was devoted to their religion to the extent that they could not change their faith. They were chained by their colonizer’s religion to which the natives resented. Nativists believed that the autocracy of the church was opposed to individual judgment, and therefore, they were not free. It’s of no doubt that the immigrant’s Catholicism was anathema to American democracy.  

Therefore, the exhibit is meant to bring together individuals from diverse communities to educate and celebrate the freedom that the Irish people had attained. Moreover, to unravel the witness and intelligence that the Irish immigrants possess. The interaction between the natives and the Irish immigrants, who are now proud Americans, would help to eliminate the stereotype of prejudices and discrimination that has lasted over a century. Further, it will help in the celebration of American dreams, and democracy has brought forthwith. America has put tremendous steps in ensuring that equal rights and freedom for immigrants are upheld thus it should be cherished and celebrated



Work Cited

“The Integration Of Immigrants Into American Society”. 2015. National Academies Press, doi:10.17226/21746. Accessed 14 Nov 2019.

Abramitzky, Ran, and Leah Boustan. “Immigration In American Economic History”. Journal Of Economic Literature, vol 55, no. 4, 2017, pp. 1311-1345. American Economic Association, doi:10.1257/jel.20151189. Accessed 14 Nov 2019.

American Immigration Council. (2017). Immigrants in the United States. Retrieved 14 November 2019, from

G, Defreitas. “Economic Effects Of Recent Immigration On American Workers. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov, 2019,

Hardin, Carleen S. The Irish Experience in America: Nativism, Argumentation, and Responses: Faculty of Humanities: American Studies University of Amsterdam (2016). Accessed 14 Nov 2019.

Klein, Christopher. “When America Despised The Irish: The 19Th Century’S Refugee Crisis”. History.Com, 2019,

M, Jensen. “The New Immigration: Implications For Poverty And Public Assistance Utilization. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov, 2019,

Peri, G. (2010). Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco | The Effect of Immigrants on U.S. Employment and Productivity. Retrieved 14 November 2019, from

Social Effects Of Illegal Immigration – Immigration | (2019). Retrieved 14 November 2019, from

U.S. Immigration Timeline. (2019). Retrieved 14 November 2019, from


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