Why less Injurious to America

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XXX (17) start of chapter

An enemy might cripple the commerce of the United States, might possibly be able to blockade a few of her harbours, might probably succeed in burning a dockyard, or setting a portion of a maritime city in a blaze; though the bombardment of Charleston does not offer a very hopeful precedent to a foreign foe. But what impression could any English army—any possible army that England, not to say could spare, but could raise—make upon the United States? CURRAN'S image of the child vainly trying to grasp the globe with its tiny hand, affords a not inapt idea of the practical absurdity of an armed invasion of the gigantic territory of the Union by even the mightiest of the military powers of Europe; and England is not that. No foreign nation could reach the heart of America. The heart of America exists in her natural resources, in her power to feed herself—to sustain her people without the aid of foreign assistance; and her plains, rich with golden grain, lie far away from the reach of charging squadrons and the sound of hostile cannon. War with a European Power would serve rather than injure the manufacturing industry of the United States, employ rather than disemploy her people. Perhaps the evil is, that America continues, even yet, to be too much dependent on the manufacturing industry of Europe for articles of convenience and utility, as well as luxury; and whatever would throw her more on her own resources, natural and created, would, in the long run, be for her benefit. With her mountains of iron, and her enormous regions of coal, with her varied climate, and her infinite natural productions, and the skill, ingenuity, knowledge, and inventive power of a population trained in all the arts of civilisation, and ministering to her wants—she can indeed contemplate without dismay the chances of a war waged against her by any foreign nation, however great, mighty, or formidable that nation may be.

Nor would a foreign war, great calamity as, under the most favourable circumstances, it would be, be altogether unpopular with numbers of the American people, including even the patriotic and the thoughtful; inasmuch as it would most effectually solve the Southern difficulty, settle in a moment the question of reconstruction on the broad basis of mutual amity and reconciliation, and unite under the one banner those who for four long years waged a bitter and relentless war, man against man, and State against State. He must form a strange notion of the relative condition of the two countries, who does not see that, however disastrously Ireland might and would be affected by a war between America and England, the chances would be against England and in favour of America—or, in other words, that England would suffer more and America less from such a contingency.

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