This is 1865 and I am now 42 years old. I am writing this entry on my journal so people in the future will know of the life that I have lived as an Irish immigrant to America in 1847 when the said country was on the verge of a Civil War…
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This was the only immediate option for our survival as the owner of the farm we used to till included us on the list of peasant families that were to be removed from its custody due to extreme hardship (Curtis). When the entire Ireland experienced food shortage between 1845-1846 (Curtis), my husband’s illness worsened and he died at the height of the Great Famine.
The extremely difficult life in Ireland at that time, leaving only in potato for subsistence (Curtis) had made the call of the Statue of Liberty irresistible. I soon decided to accept the opportunity to flee from the hunger which afflicted Ireland and the painful memory of my husband’s death. I boarded a ship to America on December, 1846 bringing along our five year-old boy, Oliver.
After a “6 to 8 weeks” (“Irish Settlement”) voyage, my son and I safely arrived in America on February, 1847. We landed in New York and the America that met us was bustling with activity. I saw thousands of immigrants like myself willing to become “servants with a promise of land and a new life in the new country” (“Irish Settlement”). I desired to work in one of the many existing factories in New York but found myself wanting of job opportunities. I realized then that we arrived at a time when America was, as described by John Curl, on the brink of technological advancement in machinery thereby creating “unskilled laborers out of the formerly skilled workers.” Indeed, my son and I were welcomed in 1847 by an America that was buried in “depression, layoffs, wage cuts and failing strikes” (Curl). It was a terrible experience. I found myself competing with the “Native-born Americans” (Curl) for factory jobs and being a woman and an immigrant made it even more difficult. I then failed to find a job in New York.
During our brief stay in New York, I heard many fellow immigrants recount their “helpless condition” in America upon arrival (Maguire, 1868). “Many families were
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Rapid growth of railroads, big corporations, industrialization, urbanization and growing corruption engendered by crony capitalism practices were affecting deeply previously isolated protestant “island communities” of the Gilded Age America. Suffering from the “dislocation and bewilderment” lots of Americans needed their homeland to be put in order and the cleverest of Americans were beating about for the ways to put their country in order.
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