Irish Americans Essay

1478 Words 6 Pages
Irish- American Immigrants

"America's bounty -- the abundance of the fields, the beauty of the landscape, the richness of our opportunities -- has always attracted people who are in search of a better life for themselves and their children. Our democracy owes its success in great part to the countless immigrants who have made their way to our shores and to the tremendous diversity this Nation has been blessed with since its beginnings. In March, when communities all across the country celebrate St. Patrick's Day, our nation honors the rich heritage of the millions of Americans who trace their lineage to Ireland." (Clinton 2003) This was, in part, a proclamation given by our former President William J. Clinton, on February 23, 1995.
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People were left with nothing to eat and no way to make money to support themselves. Many wandered the countryside, begging for food or work. Others ate grass and weeds to survive. Those who could afford it or those peasants, whose landlords paid the way, left the country in search of a better life. Many Irish set sail to the United States. Boston, Massachusetts seemed to be the Irish port of choice. Although it seemed that life for the Irish could not get any worse, the journey to Boston was yet another horror the Irish had to endure. Ship owners often crowded hundreds of desperate Irish onto rickety vessels labeled "coffin ships." In many cases, these ships reached port only after losing a third of their passengers to disease, hunger, and other causes (Virginia 2003). Because so many hungry Irish died on their disgusting crossing to Boston, the Atlantic Ocean became known as the "Bowl of Tears."

As if that had not been bad enough, as they stepped off the ships they realized that although they had left Ireland to flee from misery, they were faced with a new set of trails. Hundreds of runners, usually large greedy men, swarmed aboard the ships grabbing immigrants and their bags trying to force them to their favorite tenement house and then exact an outrageous fee for their services. As the poor immigrant had no means of moving on, they settled in the port of
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