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From Ireland To America Essay

1438 words - 6 pages

America is the world’s melting pot. American heritage stems from all over the world. The Irish are the second largest group to immigrate to the United States, and they have left their mark on the American culture (Gavin 7). Kevin Kenny argues that “The Irish immigrants of the famine era were the most disadvantaged the United States had ever seen.” The Irish potato famine was caused by a fungus that caused the potato to rot in the ground. Between the years 1845 and 1850 over one million Irish died of starvation. Another one and a half Irish immigrated to other countries. Since their main source of food was gone they became refugees of the famine. If they had not left they would have died of starvation or diseases. The journey to America was just as hard as their life in Ireland. There was no food on the ship, and diseases were being spread around (Gavin 5). Life was not easy in America either. They could not find jobs or adequate housing (“Adoption and Assimilation”). When the potato famine hit Ireland in the mid 1840s many people immigrated to New York where they were discriminated against and unable to find jobs because of their Catholic beliefs. The Irish faced many hardships in Ireland, and even more when they landed in America.
Life in Ireland was very tough during the potato famine. They were under British control, and their crops were dying. The Irish people were very poor during this time. No one could afford their own land, so they had to rent land from the British landlords. The Irish planted potatoes because they were easy to grow and very nutritious (Gavin1). The British owned the land while the poor Irish farmed it. The British shipped all the Irish crops except potatoes back to England to make a profit. The British did not leave anything but potatoes for the Irish to eat; therefore, many people today think that the British were the catalyst for the potato famine (Thornton). The poor people of Ireland were dependant on the potato because they were easy to grow, lasted a long time, and the only crop the British left for them (“The Irish Potato Famine, 1847”). In 1845 the potatoes started to rot in the ground. Over one million Irish men and women died of starvation. The famine also caused many diseases like Typhus (Mintz). Many of the people who were starving and infected tried to escape Ireland by going to the United States. The Irish at this time were predominantly catholic. Joseph O’Grady says, “Their deep respect for Christianity, bordering on blind fanaticism, gave the Irish their own hope – peace and happiness in the next world” (31). The Irish had very tough lives in Ireland when they were under the control of the British.
The journey to America was very long and rough. The Irish immigrants were refugees of the potato famine. If they had stayed in Ireland, they most likely would have died. Since the poor people of Ireland were dependant on potatoes they had to escape or choose to die. Another threat to the Irish was...

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