The United States
During the nineteenth century a large number of Irish Catholics immigrated to America in hope of escaping The Great Famine, as well as the persecution imposed by the British Penal Laws. The incredibly dangerous journey from Ireland to Ellis Island foreshadowed the hardships that were to come for the Irish. Con artists recognized the overwhelming challenges the Irish faced and capitalized on their naivety. Many Irish were duped into living in overpriced tenement housing with unbearable conditions. The con men also exploited many illiterate Irish by selling them fake transportation tickets. The poorest Irish who were unable to leave Manhattan set up lean-tos or lived in abandoned buildings. The horrible conditions led to a spike in crime, as well as a dramatic increase in the infant mortality rate in New York. The Irish received a hostile reception in Boston because it was a city run by the WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants). Like in New York, the crime rate in Boston increased tremendously and more than half of the Irish children born died before the age of six. The amount of Irish immigrating to Boston began to scare the WASPs, which led to anti-Irish propaganda and discrimination. Businesses posted signs stating “No Irish Need Apply” out of fear that the Irish would take the all of the unskilled jobs because of their willingness to work cheaply. The media painted the Irish as violent drunks who were blood drinkers, baby killers, and vampires, as well as claiming that they were brainwashed by the papacy. These tensions are demonstrated in Gangs Of New York when the “Dead Rabbits” (A Catholic Irish gang), led by “Priest”, engage in battle with “The Butcher” (A Protestant gang leader). The film demonstrates peoples’ reluctance to accept the changing demographic even though the two groups were not that different. When the Irish settled, mainly in cities, they generally kept a tight nit community, which slowed the assimilation process. After...
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