Coming to America Activity 1: Irish Immigration to the United States in the 1840s. Difficulty in finding work in Ireland. Dreams of success in the United States Poor living conditions in Ireland. Hopes/Dreams for better futures in America. Discuss other Reasons.
The Famine in Ireland “What it is at present the people are in a starving state the poor house is crowded with people and they are dying as fast as they can from 10 to 20 a day out of it there is come kind of a stage fever in it and it is the opinion of the Doctor it will spread over town and country when the weather grows warm no person can be sure of their lives one moment the times are so sudden you would scarcely see as many people with a funeral as would take it to the grave in fact I would not describe the awful state of Ireland at present you all may think the people are not so bad on account of all the provisions that is coming into it but only for it the country could be a great deal worse of but there is no trade of any kind doing nor no money in the country went is gone to America from every one that can go to America is going this year.”
The Journey “It has pleased the Lord to have given us no Storm to encounter but I regret to say toward the closing of it we have hard Fever to contend with; by the unremitted attention paid by the captain but one man fell a victim to it out of about fifty cases…On our arrival here on the evening of the 19 th of August Fever was still hanging about us, next morning when the Doctor cam on Board to inspect the Ship he found many laboring under it.”
Finding Employment “Mr. Robertson understanding that there is a great demand for Labourers in Digby and Fredericktown have made arrangements to transmit some of them by the steamer tomorrow. I have handed him your kind letter of introduction and he seems to hope to be able to procure me employment in a few days, indeed I am much pleased with the reception I have met with from all to whom I have as yet been introduced.”
“The Emigrant’s First Letter Home”
Getting about America “It was not long till I made out my father, whom I instantly knew, and no one could describe our feelings when I made myself known to him, and received his embraces, after an absence of seventeen years. The old man was quite distracted about me. He done nothing that entire day but bringing me about to his friends. Their manner of receiving me was quite amusing; one would say you are welcome, sir, from the old country; another, you are welcome to this free country; you are welcome to this wooden country; you are welcome to this free country—you are welcome to this land of liberty. Pray sir, are you not happy to have escaped from the tyranny of the old country?”
Finding Work “The morning after landing I went to work to the printing and to my great surprise I found that my hand was very little out. There is an immensity of printing done in America, still it is not as good as other businesses, and I think a journeyman printer’s wages might be averaged at 71/2 dollars a week all the year round.”
By the Grace of God “God has at length done something for us; every penny of it is my own hard earnings and I am no convinced that it is only by deserving His blessing that we can hope or expect to merit His favors; apropos, I must inform you that I made a solemn promise to God while at sea that if it was His goodness to spare my life till I get ashore I would make a hearty confession of my sins, which I thank Him for having granted me time and grace to perform,…”
Ballads/Poems/Songs Hail to thy shores, thou patriot soil, Where freedom lifts her banner high; And haughty tyrants back recoil Before the march of liberty.
Ballads/Poems/Songs Asylum of the exile born, On whom adversity has frowned, And far from friends and country torn, Seeks shelter in they friendly ground; Whose surface, fertile, shall repay His by-past cares with coming joy, And hope send down her cheering ray To crown his toils without alloy: Here all his griefs and sorrows past To thee he looks for rest at last.
Reply to “No Irish Need Apply.” They insult an Irishman and think nought of what they say, They’ll call him green, an Irish bull, it happens every day; Now to these folks I’ll say a word- to sing a song I’ll try- And to answer to those dirty words, “No Irish need apply.” If you’d come to Ireland they’d treat you well, I’m sure; Pat would share his last potato with the destitute and poor;
Reply to “No Irish Need Apply.” “Did you ever know an Irishman from any danger flinch? In fighting, too, he’d rather die than give his foe an inch. Among the bravest in the world are the sons of Erin’s green Isle, Sure the Iron Duke of Wellington was a native of the soil. And didn’t he badly whip the French on the plains of Waterloo, Which plainly showed to the whole world what Irishmen can do.
Where are we today How had immigration changed since 1840? What are some of the reasons for mass immigration, how does that shape a society, both the immigrants and that of their new country? How has the cultural approach helped to organize this information to help relate this topic to the student and our lives today?