In the nineteenth century the people of Ireland emigrated from their native country and flooded into the English speaking countries of the world such as England, Wales, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in great numbers. The great number of Irish immigrants from this period, however, decided to try to make their new life in the United States of America, especially the American Northeast. Millions of Irish came into the United States during the nineteenth century with a vast percentage of them arriving in New York City; from the year 1852 to 1857 there was 582,140 Irish that emigrated to the United States and of them 444,960 arrived in New York City, which is over 76% of all Irish immigrants during this period. In fact a staggering number of 8,154,930 Irish would come to America in the second half of the nineteenth century from 1850 to 1900 alone. During the nineteenth century close to a million of these Irish immigrants would venture a short distant south and settle their families in the state of New Jersey; and a rich Irish and Catholic tradition still persists in many part of this state to this day. With so many other places as a possibility to start a new home and life, did so many Irish emigrants decide to settle in New Jersey? The fact is that these Irish were willing to take on the great challenge and risk of a trans-Atlantic journey, in usually horrible conditions, to try to obtain a better life for them and their family. Many of the Irish came to American through New York eventually would settle down in the area between the two great American cities of Philadelphia and New York. Once arrived at their destination these immigrants would join together in communities in order to look out for their common goals, especially because of the harsh prejudice against them from their nativist neighbors. As these Irish immigrants settled more and more of their relatives and friends would join them in their new home away from the Emerald Isle, this trend would continue in the cities of New Jersey throughout the duration of the nineteenth century. As the number of Irish that settled in New Jersey continued to increase it was only a matter of time until they would become a mainstay in the life and politics of the state of New Jersey. As will be seen, as the nineteenth century continued more and more Irish would make New Jersey their home and therefore exert more influence in politics and religion throughout the state, greatly affecting the future of the New Jersey. The following two selections both reflect the common idea that pervaded in Ireland during the nineteenth century regarding their view of America as the ultimate destination for their survival and benefit. The first was a fairly common immigrant song depicting some of the reasons for leaving Ireland and the second was a quote from an Irish immigrant recently arrived in America describing what benefits lie in wait for them upon their journey here. "Farewell to the land of the shillelagh and the shamrock,
Where many a long day in pleasure I spent;
Farewell to my friends whom I leave here behind me,
To live in poor Ireland if they are content;
Though sorry I am to leave the Green Island,
Whose cause I support both in peace and in war,
To live here in bondage I ne'er can be happy,
The green fields of America are sweeter by far."
"The young men of Ireland who wished to be free and happy and come here as quick as possible. There is no place in the world where a man meets so rich an award for good conduct and industry as in America."
During this period of time there was an exodus from the Emerald Isle that had yet to be seen and that has not since been seen to this day. It is possible, however, to separate this century of Irish immigration into two distinct categories: The Pre-Famine immigration of the early 1800's, in which people were not motivated by desperation but by the belief that the financial future would be much brighter in...