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Catholic Church

[See also Schools & Education]

Role of the Catholic Church (N.Y City) -
As in Europe, the churches provided consolation for the individual, & particularly among the Irish Catholics, a rallying point for the group. For thousands of Irish immigrants the only familiar aspect of life in America was the Catholic Church... In 1841 between 60,000 & 80,000, & by mid-century 100,000 Catholics lived in N.Y. City, of whom perhaps two-thirds were Irish.
The Church imported dignity. It was a symbol of strength with which the individual identified himself, offering escape from the poverty & cares of this world into the eternal bliss of the hereafter. Not the fine points of doctrine but the harsh realities of existence in N.Y. gave strength to the Church & made it the bulwark of the Irish community. Bishop Hughes wrote of the Irishman in N.Y., "It is only when he has the consolation of his religion, that he feels comparatively happy in his new position. If on the Sunday he can be present at the holy sacrifice of Mass, if he can only see the minister of his religion at the altar & hear the word of God in the language to which his ear was accustomed from childhood, he forgets that he is among strangers in a strange country."
- Robt. Ernst, Imm. Life in N.Y. City, chap. XII


The new constitutions of most states held anti-Catholic regulations, the most common barring Catholics from office & often the franchise.
The federal Constitution contained no such provisions, and gradually between its adoption & 1820 the state constitutions were revised to fall in line with the new toleration.
The Federalist Party inherited the "no popery" fears of the Tories, & under them the Alien & Sedition Acts were passed. Particularly the Irish immigrant was feared. He had recently organized "The American Society of United Irishmen." It was no accident that the first man to suffer under the Alien Act was Matthew Lyon, an Irish Catholic.
After 1800, when Jefferson was elected president, the nativist sentiment quieted down except in New England, where the Federalists were still strong. In the country as a whole the no-popery sentiment of colonial days had completely died out - there were only a handful of Catholics in the country - too few too fear.
- Billington, The Protestant Crusade, chap. 1

In 1830, with the rise of immigration, the growth of nativism, & with it anti-Catholicism, accelerated. There had been virtually no immigration during the Napoleonic Wars, but with peace & post-war depression foreign governments hastened to remove all obstacles in the way of emigration. The introduction of machinery & the industrial revolution accelerated the movement.
In 1830 an anti-Catholic weekly was started in New York, the Protestant. It became the Protestant Magazine, a monthly. Its success led to the founding of others - Priestcraft Unmasqued, etc... The founder of the Protestant Magazine also started the "New York Protestant Association." Its sole object was declared to be "to promote the principles of the Reformation by public discussions." Catholic clergy accepted the challenge & the next few years saw a series of public debates in N.Y., Philadelphia, Charleston, & Cincinnati. These at times ended in riots, but as a rule the discussions were on a relatively high plain, concerned largely with theology.
By the end of the 1830s this type of attack was believed to be ineffective by the nativists & the character of their propaganda changed to charges of immorality in the Catholic Church, among the priests & nuns. Books with titles like Female Convents; Secrets of Nunneries Disclosed, & Jesuit Juggling; Forty Popish Frauds Detected & Disclosed gained wide circulation & popularity.
The first mob attacks on Catholics occurred in Boston. In 1829 a group aroused by the exhortations of a revivalist preacher attacked the homes of Irish Catholics & stoned them for 3 days. In 1833 a group of drunken Irishmen beat a native [i.e. native-born] American citizen to death. The next night 500 natives marched on the Irish section & a number of houses were torn down & burned. Rumors flew about the Ursaline convent & school in Charleston.
A current anti-Catholic novel, The Nun, was popular. In Boston "an escaped nun," Rebecca Theresa Reed, began telling horror tales about the convent. In fact she was not a nun but had been a menial employee of the convent dismissed for incompetence. In July of 1834 a real nun, Elizabeth Harrison, did leave the convent in a state of temporary derangement. Realizing what she had done, she asked Bishop Fenwich to allow her to return. Her request was granted but the harm was done. Rumors became uglier. In the midst of the excitement Rev. Lyman Beecher delivered a series of violent anti-Catholic sermons in 3 churches on Aug. 10th, exhorting audiences to action against Popery. Probably the attack on the convent would have taken place without the sermons. A group of truckmen or bricklayers had several meetings & laid plans. On the night of Aug. 11th, they gathered on the grounds. By 11 p.m. a large crowd had gathered, led by the 40 or 50 organized men. They burst open the doors as a dozen sisters hurried the 60 pupils out a rear door. The torch was applied & the convent burned to the ground. The next night the mob returned & burned the fences & trees & anything else they could find. Boston & Charleston were in an uproar as rumors spread that Irish laborers from nearby railroad camps were descending on the city bent on revenge. Bishop Fenwich urged quiet & a dependence on the law for redress. He was heeded.


Anti-Irish sentiment

When we scan the official records of the New England colonies we find that the Irish were often called "convicts," & it was thought that measures should be taken to prevent their landing. ...In the minutes of the provincial assemblies & in the reports rendered to the General Court, as well as in other official documents of the period, are found expressions of the sentiment that prevailed against natives of the "Island of Sorrows." ...In 1655 the government of England was asked to provide a law "to prevent the importation of Irish Papists & convicts that are yearly pow'rd upon us & to make provisions against the growth of this pernicious evil." And the colonial courts, on account of what they called "the cruel & malignant spirit that has from time to time been manifest in the Irish nation against the English nation" prohibit "the bringing over of any Irish men, women, or children into this jurisdiction on penalty of 50 pounds sterling to each inhabitant who shall buy of any merchant, shipmaster, or other agent any such person or persons so transported by them." This order was promulgated by the General Court of Massachusetts in October 1654.
- Michael J. O'Brien, Historiographer, American Irish Society, in
The Glories of Ireland, p. 201

Anti-Catholicism - Boston

1852 - "The feeling against Roman Catholics has much subsided here in recent times. A Convent would not now be burned down by a mob as it was 20 years ago."
- Ferens Pulsky, in Oscar Handlin, This Was America
(here with Kasseth in 1852)
[Irish temperance crusader] Father Matthew visited Boston in 1849 with some success. In 1865 at a procession after the death of Pres. Lincoln they paraded. The first temperance society had been non-sectarian (1836), but after 1841 they were affiliated with the Church.

  1. Oscar Handlin, Boston's Immigrants, p. 169

Anti-Irish sentiment - N.Y. -

Philip Hone showed deep-seated hatred & contempt for the Irish. "Irishmen," he wrote, were "the most ignorant, & consequently the most obstinate, white men in the world, & I have seen enough to satisfy me that, with few exceptions, ignorance & vice go together... These Irishmen, strangers among us...decide elections in the city of New York."
- Philip Hone was an aristocrat & the mayor of New York City, 1825-26;
[quote from his diary reprinted in] Robt. Ernst., Immigrant Life in N.Y. City, p. 229


Catholic Church

The mounting volume of immigration brought to the New World not only an ever-larger flock of communicants but also their pastors, made available from the old country. Already in the 1830s Irish names were prominent in the priesthood, although not yet among the bishops.
Soon thereafter the full impact of the great migration transformed American Catholicism. Church membership became overwhelmingly Irish in composition, & Irish-Americans assumed some of the most distinguished places in the hierarchy in the U.S.
- Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted, chap. V

Anti-Catholicism - History of

Maryland, founded 1632, by Sir George Calvert, Lord Baltimore
1654 - Toleration Act repealed; in its place a law stating that "none who profess to
exercise the Popish religion, commonly known by the name of Roman Catholic
religion, can be protected in this Province."


1647 - the General Court decreed that any Jesuit or priest coming within the Colony was
To be banished and, if he should return, executed. The Puritan fathers forbade the
Importation of Irish persons into the Colony.
- Prot. Crusade, p. 6-81

Only in Rhode Island & Pennsylvania were Catholics safe from persecution, & by 1700 only in R. Island could a Catholic enjoy full civil & religious rights.
- Ibid., p. 9
In 1690 began the French & Spanish Wars, which continued for 50 years, & the colonies feared the cooperation of Catholics with the Catholic enemies in Spanish Florida to the south & French Canada to the north & west. There was a stiffening of anti-Catholic laws. In Maryland in 1704 a law [was] passed levying a heavy tax on Irish servants, "to prevent the importation of too great a number of Irish papists."
- Ibid., 9-10


With outbreak of Seven Years' War, when French activity in the west was portrayed as
Popish activity by the clergy, even the tolerant Quaker traditions broke down. The
forbidding of Irish immigration was discussed but was not carried out, but Catholics
were disarmed & were forbidden to serve in the militia & were burdened with
additional taxation & forced to register so they could be closely watched.
- Ibid., p. 13

New England

Continued its already-severe laws with outbreak of French wars. Their fears not entirely
unfounded - 1718 when Jesuit Sebastian Ralle "converted some Main[e?] Indians,
who immediately began raids against Massachusetts settlements. He kept the area in
turmoil for 3 years.
- Ibid., p. 15


In 1743 all protection which had previously been afforded Catholics was done away with.
- Ibid., p. 15

1774 - Quebec Act: designed to extend toleration to French Canadians, was the target of the pulpits & the pamphleteers of the colonies. One popular verse:
"If Gallic Papists have a right
To worship their own way,
Then farewell to the liberties
Of poor America."

The Quebec Act led to the spread of Pope Day throughout the colonies. It had long been celebrated in New England on Guy Fawkes Day with parades ending with the burning of the Pope in effigy. Early in the Revolution the army planned a Pope Day celebration in 1776, but Washington stopped it. Congress at this time was trying to get help from Catholic Canada against England. Anti-Pope feeling continued until the French Alliance in 1778, when the colonists saw their allies, the French soldiers & officers, & were forced to concede they had neither horns nor tails.
[- Ibid.? No citation given for this entry]

Even in colonies where immigrants were most needed the authorities stopped short of an open-entry policy. Certain classes of newcomers universally unwelcome, & popular prejudice against them found widespread legislative expression. Roman Catholics, for instance, were nowhere actually excluded, but were commonly discouraged from coming. Most of the colonies levied discriminatory taxes upon captains landing Roman Catholics, & even the colonies which attempted to promote immigration were careful to specify that only Protestants could qualify for bounties or other inducements offered.
- Maldwyn A. Jones, American Immigration, p. 43


Nineteenth Century

British travelers were Protestant & upper-class, biased against "democracy" & the Catholic Church.
Long before the vast German & Irish migrations of the 1840s & '50s, British travelers regarded Catholics as dangerous to America. C. A. Murray, in 1836, pointed out that Catholics in Missouri had gained ground so rapidly that they far outstripped all competition. Buckingham found 6 of 15 schools in St. Louis to be Catholic, in addition to the Jesuit college & the Sacred Heart Convent, which gave them overwhelming superiority in higher education. The Catholic clergy far outdid their Protestant brethren in zeal, learning, courtesy, & attention to the lower classes, he warned. In Chicago a similar situation existed, he reported, with 3 out of 5 schools being Catholic. Proselytizing went on not only in the west, but also in the Catholic institutions of Boston & Washington, Buckingham added. Marryat was even more alarmed. He thought it possible that all America would fall under the fascination of Papal ritual & turn Catholic. Certainly, he concluded, there was no doubt but that the west would do so, in as much as Catholics were already in the majority there. Alexander Mackay, otherwise a very sober & tolerant person, was also convinced that the Catholic Church was very deliberately intent upon conquering all America. It had abandoned the East to the Protestants & was concentrating on the interior...
The tremendous increase in numbers & importance of the Irish after 1845 gave the problem another twist. It tied up Catholicism with politics & immigration...
There were those who thought these fears exaggerated, notably Mrs. [Harriet] Marineau... It remained for a Protestant, Mrs. Maury (1848) to undertake a defense of Catholicism. She called it "the shield of America," chiefly, it appears, because the priests kept her Irish servants in hand.
- Max Berger, The British Traveller in America, p. 143-46

(1850-54) Citizens marched through the streets carrying an effigy of the priest, a gallows, and banners which proclaimed, "Down with Bedini," "No Priests, No Kings, No Popery," etc... The crowd planned to march by the house where he was staying & then burn the effigy in the yard of a nearby Catholic church. Special police broke up the demonstration & some 20 people were injured. The affair turned sentiment against Bedini throughout the nation, & when he finally sailed from New York the mob waiting at the dock to attack him was so large that the police were helpless & he had to be smuggled on board the ship after it was well down the harbor.
- Protestant Crusade, p. 289-303
New York, 1850s -
[Daniel] Parsons gained his first notoriety in Nov, 1853, when he was interrupted in a vehement attack on Catholics by hecklers. On successive Sundays his audiences increased, until [on] Dec. 11th, 10,000 came to hear him. Police arrested Parsons in the middle of his address, & the enraged crowd laid siege to the mayor's home & threatened violence until the mayor ordered Parsons' release. Feeling ran high, & on the following Wednesday a mass meeting was held in Central Park that demanded the mayor's resignation.
Bishop Hughes issued a proclamation urging calmness on his followers, but went on to say that if their property was attacked, Catholics would defend their constitutional rights themselves if the proper authorities failed to defend them.
Protestants interpreted this as a declaration of war & feeling rose. The mayor issued a manifesto calling for peace. A crowd of 20,000 gathered to hear Parsons but dispersed without disorder.
In Cincinnati -
There were many itinerant rabble-rousers who traveled around arousing anti-Catholic hatred. One of the most ingenious was a Rev. Guistiniani, who traveled about with a group of Germans, "converting" them to Protestantism in each city. His tactics aroused so much resentment among Catholics that the Cincinnati church in which he was speaking was destroyed by a mob.
- Ibid., p. 307-08

Leopoldine Foundation

While traveling in Europe in 1827 Father Rose (Vicar General of Diocese of Cincinnati under Bishop Edward Fenwich) visited Vienna, where he was granted an audience with the Prince Archbishop, who secured an audience for him with Emperor Francis I... Francis I proposed a separate society (mission society) for Austria, patterned after the French organization (French Society for the Propagation of the Faith). He concluded the interview by stating that the new society would be known as the Leopoldine Foundation, named after his deceased daughter who had been Empress of Brazil.
No time was lost in forming the organization, which was to supply priests & funds for the N. American missions. In just 3 mos. the society had the formal approval of the Holy Father. To promote the objectives of the Leopoldine Foundation, Father Rose wrote a brief history of the Cincinnati diocese, wherein he outlined the dire need for missionaries & donations. This history was distributed throughout the Empire... With the distribution of the history Father Baraga received a copy... He wrote to the bishop in _______, asking permission to be relieved of his duties in the Ljubljana diocese so that he could make application to be received into the diocese of Cincinnati.
B. J. Lambert, Shepherd of the Wilderness, p. 45-46

The House of Representatives was petitioned by a group from New York State to decide whether there was not "a plan in operation, powerful & dangerous, under the management of the Leopoldine Foundation, for the subversion of our civil & religious liberties, to be affected by the emigration of Roman Catholics from Europe, & by their admission to the right of suffrage with us in our political institutions," dated Feb. 14, 1838. A similar petition, dated Jan. 5, 1838, was sent by a group of Massachusetts residents.
Billington, Protestant Crusade, p. 130

1835-1840 - Annual reports of the Leopoldine Assoc. were widely published in the religious press, with warnings of the fate awaiting America if these activities were continued. Catholic disavowals were brushed away as useless. The papal clergy, the propagandists maintained, had been taught to keep no faith with heretics, and ordinary Catholics were being kept in ignorance until the time to strike, when they would be released from their oath of allegiance to the U.S. by the Pope & establish the Inquisition in America. Already, it was claimed, the Papists were building inquisitorial chambers beneath their churches & arming their religious edifices for use in the final attack...
Propagandists directed much of their attention to foreign immigrants, who became, in their eyes, a Roman-directed group of Papal serfs, bent on the planned destruction of the U.S..
Billington, Protestant Crusade, p. 127

Boston Convent Riot

Because it served for many years throughout the country as an argument in propaganda for & against Catholics, the Charlestown Convent fire received a greater degree of notoriety than any other riot. The disturbance grew primarily out of the failure of the school & the rural community in which it was located to adjust themselves to each other. To the laborers nearby the convent was a strange & unfamiliar institution, with which it was difficult to be neighborly or to follow the customary social forms. In addition Catholicism meant Irishmen, & for non-Irish laborers the convent was a symbol of the new competition they daily encountered... Things came to a head with the appearance & disappearance of Elizabeth Harrison, a demented nun. The refusal of the Mother Superior to admit the Charlestown Selectmen the purported existence of dungeons & torture chambers until the very day of the fire inflamed the 40 or 50 Charlestown truckmen & New Hampshire Scots-Irish bricklayers who led the curious mob; & her threat that unless they withdrew she would call upon the Bishop for a defense contingent of 20,000 Irishmen precipitated the holocaust.
After the initial excitement, every section of public opinion in Boston greeted the fire with horror & surprise. Bostonians had not disliked the school, many had actually sent their children there... The press condemned the absence of adequate protection... A reward of $500 offered by Gov. Davis resulted in the arrest of 13 men, the trial of 8, & the conviction of one. The life-imprisonment sentence for the one, of whose guilt there seemed no doubt, was far more significant than failure to convict those who might have been innocent.
The convent, re-established at Roxbury, failed "because of lack of harmony among the sisters." But the legislature was petitioned for compensation repeatedly in the next 20 years. Despite persistent reluctance to grant public funds for religious purposes, $10,000 was voted in 1846, but rejected by the Ursulines.
- Oscar Handlin, Boston's Immigrants, p. 187-89

The street-preachers were everywhere, inciting disorder. Frequently crowds of excited Protestants, whipped to angry resentment by the exhortations of some wandering orator, rushed directly to a Catholic church, bent on its destruction. A dozen churches were burned in the middle-1850s; countless more were attacked, their crosses stolen, their altars violated, & their windows broken. In Sidney, Ohio & Dorchester, Mass. Catholic houses of worship were blown to pieces by gunpowder. In N.Y. City a mob laid siege to the prominent cathedral of St. Peter & St. Paul & only the arrival of the police saved the building. In Maine Catholics who had had one church destroyed were prevented from laying the cornerstone of a new one by hostile Protestants, & statues of priests were torn down or desecrated.
- The Protestant Crusade, p. 309

John S. Orr was called the Angel Gabriel because he always spoke clothed in a long white gown & summoned his hearers by blasts on a brass horn. He leapt into prominence in Boston in 1854, where his followers clashed with a group of Irish laborers & then attempted to burn a Catholic church. Police arrived in time to protect the building, but the crowd refused to disperse until given the cross from the top of the steeple, which they then burned. An attempt was made to burn another church but troops were called & the rioters forced to disband.
Gabriel's fame followed him to N.Y., where more than 10,000 gathered to hear him in Brooklyn. The mob clashed with a group of Irish, but a whole army of special police managed to restore & keep order.
He returned to New England, where his path was one of continuous disorder. At Nashua, N.H., a mob rushed directly from his lecture to attack the Irish settlement. In Bath, Maine, his hearers stormed a Catholic church, displaying an American flag from the balcony, & then burned the building to the ground. A short time later he incited another church-burning in Palmyra, N.Y.. He returned to Boston, where he attempted to hold a meeting in Charlestown, but the authorities arrested him & charged him with creating a disturbance. The mob tried, unsuccessfully, to free him from jail. Other cities followed Boston's example & refused him permission to speak. In Washington he disregarded such a ruling & was clapped into jail for 2 weeks. Finally convinced that American audiences were denied him, he left the country.
- Ibid., p. 305-06

Philadelphia riot of 1844

Election riots were common & reached a peak in the spring of 1844, when Irish & Americans fought openly in the streets of one of the suburbs.
The spark that set off the controversy was educational. In 1842 Bishop Kenrick (inspired by Bishop Hughes of N.Y.) complained that the Prot. Bible [was used] & Prot. religious exercises were held in the schools. He asked that Catholic children be allowed to use their own version of the Bible. In January 1843 the school board granted the request.
During the following year the American Prot. Assoc. seized on this as an issue. Large public anti-Catholic meetings were held, notably on Mar. 4th, 1844. Tension mounted during April, & late in the month the 1st actual clash came. The American Republicans persisted, in spite of warnings, in holding a meeting in the 3rd ward on May 3rd. They were routed by an Irish mob. They insisted on holding the aborted meeting on May 6th. They marched through the Irish section and as they entered the Market House to hold the meeting shots were fired, either from the windows of the Hibernian Hose Company house, or from the mob itself. One marcher was killed. That night a crowd entered the Irish section & attacked Irish homes before the militia arrived.
The next day crowds gathered on every street corner, listening to speakers exhorting against the Catholics. In the afternoon crowds entered the Irish section; before midnight 30 Irish homes had been burned to the ground, as well as the house of the Hibernian Hose Company. The militia arrived tardily & stopped the destruction.
The third day of the rioting was the climax. Roaming the streets, rioters burned both St. Michael's Church & St. Augustine's.
The fourth day the mayor appointed special police officers, & an uneasy calm came to the city.
After the usual Fourth of July celebrations, with the usual inflammatory oratory, rioting broke out again. Gangs roamed the streets for 3 days & thousands of Catholic families left the city. When the city took stock of its 3 days of mob rule it found that 13 citizens had been killed and more than 50 wounded.
Philadelphia, returned to calm, showed little remorse; though publicly deploring the lawlessness, they were secretly exultant. Quaker merchants, who spoke indignantly in public, returned to their shops to express the sincere belief that "the Papists deserved all this & much more," and "It were well if every Papish church in the world were leveled with the ground."
Ibid., p. 220-30

That N.Y. remained outwardly calm was due to the efforts of Bishop Hughes. He publicly declared, "if a single Catholic church were burned in N.Y. the city would become a second Moscow." He felt that the Phil. Catholics should have defended their churches.
When the news of the Phil. riot reached N.Y. a large mass meeting was held May 7th which denounced the Irish & called for a second mass meeting to be held in Central Park May 9th. A delegation from Phil. was to be present to exhibit the flag that [had] allegedly been torn & trampled by the Irish.
Understandably alarmed at the prospect of this meeting, Bishop Hughes inquired of the authorities & found that the law did not require the city to compensate Catholics for any churches destroyed by mobs. Hughes promptly stationed between one & two thousand men, fully armed, about each church, & warned his watchers to keep the peace as long as possible but to defend their property at all cost.
These warlike preparations were viewed by the American republicans with both resentment & alarm. In a hasty conference with the mayor it was decided to abandon the May 9th meeting. Bishop Hughes deserves credit for saving N.Y. from a period of mob rule, such as that in Philadelphia.
- Ibid., p. 231-32



It is important to distinguish between general dislike of foreigners and a similar but more deep-seated antipathy based on emotions of fear & hate. The former, present to some extent in all societies, has been a constant factor in America from colonial days to the present... This sentiment has been essentially passive, probably reflecting no more than a general ethnocentrism. Much more, however, has been has been involved in the usually short-lived but highly-concentrated outbursts of mass xenophobia which have erupted in America from time to time. These have been the product of a loss of national confidence, owing to internal stress of one kind or another. Cyclical in character, strongly marked by hysteria & irrationality, & generally inspired by a specific political purpose, such nativist movements have been essentially attempts to safeguard American nationality from the foreign influences which were believed to threaten it.
The first to these anti-foreign outbursts came in the 1790s when, at a time of deep political cleavage closely related to the international conflict of the time, the Federalists sought to guard the new nation against revolution by proscribing radical immigrants. That the generation preceding the Civil War witnessed a recurrence of nativism was not so much because the period [was one] of heavy immigration, but that it too was one of internal crisis, when the national unity was threatened by sectionalism... The most prominent theme of pre-Civil War nativism was that of hostility to the R. C. Church. The astonishing growth of Am. Catholicism, mainly as a result of immigration, revived the fears of Popery that had been so widespread in colonial times. The steady expansion of Catholic membership, reflected in the amount of church-building, the creation of new dioceses, & the rise of a Catholic press, produced in the 1830s a mounting wave of anti-Catholic literature & oratory... The constant feature of Protestant nativism was its expressed fear that the Catholic influx threatened American institutions. The Catholic Church, because of its authoritarian organization, & its close connection with despotic monarchies of Europe, was regarded by many Americans as enemy of political liberty, and there were not a few who believed in the existence of a popish plot to subvert the government of the new republic.
Samuel F. B. Morse wrote a series of letters in 1834 to the New York Observer which were later published in pamphlet form. His attack was directed especially against the Leopold Assoc. of Vienna, a Catholic missionary society whose efforts were concentrated in the U.S.. The sending of money by this body to American Catholic bishops was, Morse believed, the first step in a papal conquest of the U.S.. Particularly alarming to Protestant nativists were the alleged designs of the Pope on the Mississippi Valley. Thus in A Place for the West (1835), Rev. Lyman Beecher described an alleged plot to win the U.S. for Catholicism by sending Catholic immigrants to the west in such numbers as ultimately to dominate the region.
- Maldwyn A. Jones, Am. Imm., p. 147-49

Anti-immigrant Sentiment

The foreign-born carried an active interest in the affairs of their homeland. This was particularly true of the Irish. They were constantly aroused in behalf of their countrymen who were trying to secure the repeal of Union with England. Societies of "Repealers" were formed throughout the east in the 1840s, money was collected to aid Daniel O'Connell, & the view was regularly expressed that America should intervene on behalf of Ireland. These demands assumed new proportions with the Oregon boundary dispute of 1846, Irish-Americans insisting that war with England would bring freedom to Ireland & a territory to the U.S.. Again during the Irish uprising of 1848 they tried to force American entry. This continued Irish insistence on war with a friendly power antagonized Americans.
- Protestant Crusade, p. 328
Lawlessness -
The native laborers were aroused by the lawlessness of the aliens with whom they were forced to compete. The Irish particularly were a turbulent lot, & conflicts between them & the native factions were inevitable. Frequently the Irish were to blame for the trouble. In nearly every state armed conflicts between native & Irish or German workmen were common.

[- no citation given for this entry, but may be from The Protestant Crusade]


1 Possibly Ray Allen Billington, The Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860: A Study of the Origins of American Nativism. Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1963; originally published 1938.