Evil of remaining in the great Cities

John Francis Maguire

Evil of remaining in the great Cities—Why the City attracts the new Comer—Consequence of Overcrowding—The Tenement Houses of New York—Important Official Reports—Glimpses of the Reality—An inviting Picture—Misery and Slavery combined—Inducements to Intemperance—Massacre of the Innocents—In the wrong Place—Town and Country

IRELAND, whence a great tide of human life has been pouring across the Atlantic for more than half a century, is rightly described as 'an agricultural country;' by which is meant that the far larger portion of its population are devoted to the cultivation of the soil. In no country have the peasantry exhibited a stronger or more passionate attachment to the land than in that country from which such myriads have gone and are still going forth. And yet the strange fact, indeed the serious evil, is, that, notwithstanding the vast majority of those who emigrate from Ireland to America have been exclusively engaged in the cultivation of the soil—as farmers, farm-servants, or outdoor labourers—so many of this class remain in cities and towns, for which they are not best suited; rather than go to the country, for which they are specially suited, and where they would be certain to secure for themselves and their families, not merely a home, but comfort and independence. I deliberately assert that it is not within the power of language to describe adequately, much less exaggerate, the evil consequences of this unhappy tendency of the Irish to congregate in the large towns of America. But why they have hitherto done so may be accounted for without much difficulty.

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