Irish Settlers in the South

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XII (9) start of chapter

There is a prejudice, and a somewhat ignorant prejudice, against the South; the prevalent idea being that no one but the negro can venture to brave its climate—that open-air labour in the South is death to the white man. I know of Irishmen who cultivate farms in all the Southern States, and who work at them themselves; and that they and their children are strong and robust. But not only are some of the Southern States temperate and genial, but in almost all those States there are portions which are most favourable to the industry and longevity of the white man. I was anxious to obtain reliable information on this point, and I received from the Bishop of Charleston—the honoured son of a good Irishman—a statement respecting a State that, perhaps of all others, is the one to which prejudice would first point as the most unsuited to the labour of the European. South Carolina, like all the Southern States, has its belts, of soil as well as climate, favourable and unfavourable to the European immigrant. Dr. Lynch says of his State, that it is 'probably the most Irish of any of the States of the Union.' 'Irish family names abound in every rank and condition of life; and there are few men, natives of the State, in whose veins there does not run more or less of Irish blood.' He adds, 'While its inhabitants have always had the impetuous character of the Irish race, nowhere has there been a more earnest sympathy for the struggles of Irishmen at home, nowhere will the Irish immigrant be received with greater welcome, or be more generously supported in all his rights; and I do not know any part of the country where industry and sobriety would ensure to the immigrant who engages in agriculture an ampler compensation for himself and family in a briefer number of years.' In his communication, written in compliance with my request, the Bishop points out the healthy and the unhealthy, the favourable and the unfavourable, belts or districts of his State.(16)

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

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