Reading (skimming, really) the giant New York, An Illustrated History, I noticed this amazing passage:
Forty thousand Germans alone had pushed in, creating an insulated neighborhood of their own called Kleindeutschland – Little Germany. An even greater number had come from Ireland, impoverished farmers and unskilled day laborers mainly, most of whom quickly found work, taking on the worst and toughest jobs in the city – digging sewers, paving streets, building houses, or working as servants, scullery maids, and seamstresses…
Year by year, the number continued to rise. By 1841, nearly 100,000 Irish Catholic immigrants had flooded into the city – fueling waves of virulent anti-Catholic bigotry among upperclass New Yorkers, and the bitter resentment of native-born workers, who feared for their jobs.
That year, Samuel Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, called for an end to Catholic immigration altogether, portraying the influx as a sinister papal conspiracy, aimed at bending American democracy to the will of Rome. “Up! Up! I beseech you,” he warned. “Awake! To your posts! Shut the open gates. Your enemies in the guise of friends, many thousands, are at this moment rushing into your ruin through the open portals of naturalization.” “If I had the power,” another man declared, “I would erect a gallows at every landing place in the city of New York, and suspend every cursed Irishman as soon as he steps on our shore.”
Note that this “flood” of Irish immigrants is from before the Irish Potato Famine drove a lot more of that country’s citizens to emigrate.
I can’t decide whether it’s reassuring or depressing that intolerant demagogues in 2016 are selling virtually identical poison as those from 175 years ago.
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