People, Races, Ethnicity in the U.S. Irish Americans Part 2

About the Irish Americans in the U.S. including where they are from, why they left, how many there are, famous Irish-Americans and more.

IRISH AMERICANS

Numbers: In 1790 the first national census reported 44,000 Irish-born residents in the U.S. By the 1830s, Irish immigration averaged some 15,000 persons every year; during the potato famine, however, immigration jumped to well over 100,000 per year. The Irish accounted for 42.3% of all immigrants to the U.S. between 1820 and 1850, and for more than 35% of all immigrants during the following decade. In the 20th century, Irish immigration has steadily declined, from 35,000 in 1901 to fewer than 2,000 per year in the 1970s. As of 1970, there were 277,000 native-born Irish living in the U.S., and an estimated 1.3 million Irish Americans had one or both parents born in Ireland. More than 13 million Americans are of Irish ancestry.

Their Story in America: The Ulster Protestants who arrived in the 18th century met little resistance from native Americans. Some rose rapidly in society to enter the mercantile elite of the eastern ports, while others trekked west across the Appalachians with Daniel Boone. Irish Protestant immigrants began increasingly to refer to themselves as "Scotch-Irish," for American Protestants in general so feared and despised Catholics that in the early years of the 19th century there was constant public talk of favoring a religious qualification for immigrants that would compel Catholics to renounce their allegiance to the Church.

Consequently, the Catholic Irish took a painfully long time to enter the middle-class mainstream of American life. They were the first white ethnic group to suffer prolonged, bitter discrimination from fellow Americans. In 1834 a Protestant mob burned a Catholic convent near Boston, and in 1844 another such mob rampaged through an Irish neighborhood in Philadelphia until it was halted by the militia. The Irish occupied America's first sordid ghettos, which increased the vulnerability of the Irish to alcoholism.

Steadily, after the 1830s, the Irish replaced Anglo-Saxons as the bedrock of the American working class. They swarmed into the construction trades. They built the canals that laced the Northeast, and then railroads that crept westward toward the Pacific coast. With picks and shovels, they flattened the woods and rocky vales of Manhattan Island so that New York City could expand.

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