Calumnies against the Irish refuted

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER VI (5) start of chapter

Calumny and slander had followed these poor exiles across the ocean, and tracked them to their new home in the wilderness. When first the people in the frontier settlement—for the most part immigrants themselves, or the sons of immigrants from the United States, who refused to abandon their allegiance to the British Crown at the time of the American Revolution—heard of the arrival of these 2,000 'Irish Papists' in the neighbourhood, they became alarmed for their property, and even for their personal safety. This alarm and prejudice were caused by stories circulated by those who, unhappily, had brought the old unnatural hatred with them to a new country. However, such was the order maintained in the colony, and such the excellent conduct of the settlers, that it became quickly apparent that these stories were false and unfounded. A person then residing near the colony bears testimony to their industry, energy, and good conduct, in a letter dated January 1826, a few months after their arrival. The letter is written to a friend:—

I am here in the very midst of them; from twenty to thirty pass my door almost daily. I visit the camp frequently, and converse with them on their affairs, and find them happy and contented. In general, they are making great exertions in clearing land, and their efforts have astonished many of the old settlers. Not one complaint has been made against them by any of the old settlers, and it is the general opinion that when so large a body of people are brought together none could conduct themselves better. When we heard of their coming amongst us, we did not like the idea, and immediately began to think it necessary to put bolts and bars on our doors and windows. All these fears are vanished. These fears, I must acknowledge, were in consequence of stories that were put in circulation before their arrival in that part, which have all turned out to be equally false.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America