.. the Irish were to blame for their own poverty, starvation, and death; the English, who were really to blame, could go on living without guilt or regret. IV. The starvation influenced the history of the United States During the years of starvation, many Irish fled their homeland and came to the United States. In 1851, two hundred fifty thousand Irishmen boarded ships headed for America.
One main draw for immigration into the United States was that many Irish had relatives already living in the U.S. Fares were inexpensive, it that was known as the land of opportunity, and it was free from British law, making it Evan more attractive. After the Civil War came the industrialization of the United States. Much of the workingmen who built the foundation for industrialization were African Americans, Asian Americans, and as well as Irish Americans. The Irish immigrants built many of the canals, sewers, water systems, railroads, and roads that were essential to the urbanization and industrialization of the U.S.
“One author said that the United States ran on steam power, water power, and Irish power.” The Irish have also been credited with improving the growth, function, and power of urban machine politics. With their knowledge of the Anglo government system, the Irish used their communities and neighborhoods as a basis for gaining control over the Democratic Party. The Irish were masters at the “diverse and desperate” tactics of coalition politics, the backbone of the Democratic Party. Eventually, in 1972, the McGovernists, an anti-ethnic group, took over the Democratic Party, forcing Irish democrats to deflect to the Republican Party. The increased Irish population in the United States during the last half of the nineteenth century had a huge effect on the American Catholic Church.
The Church went “from a quiet, reserved institution to an aggressive growth oriented organization.” The basis of the Catholic school system was introduced along with the construction of many parishes. Systems of hospitals and orphanages were also established through the work of the Irish-Catholics. V. Effects on Anglo-Irish relations The history of Anglo-Irish relations is the basis for modern Irish republicanism. “A legacy of distrust and hatred influenced Anglo-Irish relations. The folk memory of the ordinary people retains the bitter recollections to this day – the coffin ships, the soup kitchens, the mass graves, the workhouses; all under the watchful eyes of thousands of well-fed British troops.” As a response to this treatment, rebellions broke out.
The Young Irelanders, already weakened from hunger, and without adequate arms were sure to loose. The leaders were pro-landlord, and did not condone violence, because of this they were not successful in their endeavors. In order to be truly free from Great Britain the people needed to control the land and be rid of landlords. VI. A starvation, not a famine There are two reasons that the starvation in Ireland should not be referred to as a famine. The first reason is because there was plenty of food to go around.
Second, the reason so many people starved to death was because of the direct actions taken by the British, fueled by racism toward the Irish. In The Last Conquest of Ireland, 1861, John Mitchell wrote: “The Almighty indeed sent the potato blight but the English created the famine.” Mitchel further observed that “a million and a half men, women, and children were carefully, prudently, and peacefully slain by the English Government. They died in the midst of abundance which their own hands created.” Many have questioned the stand the British took in helping the famine victims and have concluded that the British looked the other way as millions died. Nothing was sent to help the Irish, no free food, no money to develop infrastructure or subsistence. Sadly, many died as a result of the actions committed by the “most powerful and wealthy empire the world has ever known.” VII. Britain: Guilty of passive or opportunistic genocide The term famine leads people to believe that the blight in Ireland was caused by no more than the devastating weather, crop failure due to fungus, overpopulation and the wrath of God. The term famine, according to Frank O’Conner is “a useful word when you do not wish to use words like ‘genocide’ and ‘extermination’.” Starvation has been said to be a more accurate portrayal of what happened to Ireland between 1845 and 1852.
While there were up to eight ships leaving daily with large quantities of food, such as wheat, oats, barley, butter, eggs, beef, and pork; the peasants of Ireland were dying of starvation. The real reason so many died was because the British empire had a racist attitude toward the Irish, made them dependant on the potato, and refused to take adequate action when the situation called for it. The British policies at the time were targeted for small regional crop failures, and when a large-scale national famine occurred, they refused to amend these policies and increase their aid, resulting in the death for millions. When the British government forced the nation of Ireland to become part of their colonial system; they should have also accepted responsibility and offered help for its people in the midst of the disaster. The British, however, tolerated the mass deaths as a cost of their unsympathetic governmental policies, therefore resulting in passive genocide. The destructive and exploitive ways of the British definitely had ulterior motives, such as “clearance, death, and forced emigration.” The English were using food as a weapon against the Irish.
England, not only, had the resources to considerably lessen the effects of the potato blight, but also selfishly chose not to offer help because of their anti-Irish way of thinking. These actions are said to have been worse than a direct extermination. VIII. Academics have negatively influenced historical perceptions of “the Great Starvation A revision of history is necessary in bringing out the true accounts of what really happened in Ireland. The problem lies with many historians who wrote from the perspective of the ruling power and did not tell the stories objectively of the oppressed Irish.
This skewed historical account takes away from Irish history and it’s heroes, undermining the basis of Irish nationalism. It also de-emphasizes the role that Great Britain took in depriving Ireland of food. The estimated number of people who died had been downplayed considerably. Some death toll estimates were as low as 250,000, while others have said over one million died. According to authors such as Roy Foster, nothing that occurred in the past of the Irish has any importance today. Many revisionist authors suggest that the death and starvation was unavoidable and what God had intended for nation of Ireland.
Anglo-Irish revisionists use so-called scholarly writings to disguise sociopolitical propaganda. These writings place fault on the victim and overlook the fact that violence and coercion were used maintain order in British ruled Ireland. By reinterpreting the role of England during the starvation, revisionists take the blame off of their “sociocultural idols” so they do not look so bad. IX. My personal reaction Before writing this paper, I was aware if the potato blight in Ireland. I knew there was a crop failure and that many people died from a food shortage.
I did not know however that the British worsened the effects of the situation due to their harsh policies, refusal to give aid, and their racist attitude. I am convinced that the British took advantage of their power and consciously tried to exterminate the Irish race. Since the Great Hunger there has been tension and fighting in Northern Ireland and an apology from the English government would be a great step towards peace. It has been documented that other governments offered its apologies for crimes against humanity. Some of these include Germany apologizing to the Jewish race, Japan to wartime crimes against Korean women, and the Southern Baptist Church to African Americans for their past support of slavery.
I feel that the English had a direct impact on how disastrous the famine was, and with the right amount of aid, the worst of the famine could have probably been completely avoided. The English must admit to their wrongdoings and give an apology to the Irish that is needed and long overdue. Anthropology.