Anti-Irish Job Discrimination

Choose a sentence or short section from the article embedded in your webtext reading about Irish immigration. Copy and paste the sentence or section into your discussion post. Along with this sentence or section, briefly explain how your choice illustrates the concept of change over time.

You should also answer the following questions in your post:

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Anti-Irish Job Discrimination
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How does this article give you a better understanding of the changing perception of Irish immigrants in America?
What forces allowed the Irish to be assimilated into U.S. culture despite initial resistance?

Article is attached below. (Needs to be atleast two paragraphs).

The Famine Irish

From about 1846 to the early 1850s Ireland was beset by a series of disastrous failures of the potato crop, a staple for poor peasants in the rural western and southern counties. One outcome was an estimated 1.1 to 1.5 million deaths from starvation and related diseases, roughly 15 percent of the country’s pre- famine population (Kenny 2000: 89). Another was a mass exodus, primarily to the United States. About 1.5 million Irish entered the United States from 1846 to 1855, by far the largest immigrant wave up to that time. This was 45.6 percent of total U.S. immigration in the 1840s and 35.2 percent in the 1850s (ibid.: 90). The wave subsided after the mid-1850s (Hatton and Williamson 1993: 596).

The famine immigrants tended to settle in large northeastern cities, often the ports where their transporting ships landed. In 1850, 37 percent of the U.S. Irish-born population lived in cities of 25,000 or more, compared to just under 9 percent of the general population (Kenny 2000: 105). In 1870, 44.5 percent of the Irish-born lived in the 50 largest cities (ibid.). They remained in these alien urban environments partly because they had no money to move inland and partly because their experience back home as farm laborers and small-scale tenant farmers had not prepared them for success in American agriculture. Once settled, Irish immigrants quickly discovered that their rural, underdeveloped homeland had provided very little in the way of industrial experience or skill, forcing them to the bottom of the occupational hierarchy (Laurie et al. 1975: 240). The result was a concentration of the Irish in big-city tenement slums.

All these circumstances made the Irish quite conspicuous and worked against their rapid assimilation. William H. A. Williams (1996: 1) writes: “Irish Catholics were in many respects the first ‘ethnic’ group in America . . . the first immigrant group to arrive in extremely large numbers, to gain high visibility by clustering in cities . . . , and to appear sufficiently ‘different’ in religion and culture so that acceptance by native-born Americans was not automatic, and assimilation was, therefore, prolonged.” Although most spoke English in addition to their native Irish (Gaelic), this was insufficient to overcome their various disadvantages.

The native-born U.S. population reacted in part by developing negative Irish stereotypes similar to those associated with bigotry toward African Americans. The long history of English domination of Ireland already had planted notions of Irish inferiority that English immigrants had brought with them in the two centuries before the famine exodus. In fact, the Irish generally were viewed as a separate “race,” although the term would hardly be applied to Irish Americans today. The basic elements of the stereotype were innate low intelligence, unreliability, laziness, and (for males) a penchant for drunkenness and fighting. Newspaper and magazine cartoonists of the era often portrayed the Irish with simian features. They were regularly characterized as racially inferior to Americans of Anglo-Saxon origin, even in the pages of respectable intellectual periodicals (Kenny 2006: 366; Lee 2006: 25).

In contrast, the other main non-English immigrant group of the period, the Germans (Cohn 1995), assimilated much more easily. While language was a problem, they were more highly educated and skilled than the Irish. In 1860 German men were most highly concentrated in skilled crafts, in contrast to the Irish, who were disproportionately made up of unskilled laborers (Conley and Galenson 1998: 471). Also, German immigrants had been preceded by numerous fellow “countrymen” during the previous century who had paved the way by establishing themselves economically and socially in America. The stereotypical German was hardworking, disciplined, earnest, and frugal (Gerlach 2002: 39). While the famine Irish had been preceded by a steady stream of Scots-Irish, starting in the early 1700s these non-Gaelic Protestants from the north of Ireland were a distinct group (Chepesiuk 2000). They generally settled in inland rural areas (e.g., Appalachia and the southern Piedmont), and where the two groups coexisted, the Scots-Irish were often antagonistic toward the new immigrants.

The Irish ballplayers circa 1880, during our study period, were mainly the sons of the famine immigrants. While assimilation had clearly begun by this time, it was hardly complete. For example, Kerby A. Miller (1985: 492) notes: “Between 1870 and 1921 Irish-Americans emerged from the near ubiquitous poverty and crippling prejudice of the Famine decades. The process was slow, halting, and incomplete even by 1921.” Negative stereotypes lingered after the turn of the twentieth century, and the popular press continued to portray the Irish with simian features at least into the 1890s.

Early Professional Baseball

The origin of major-league baseball is usually identified with the 1876 founding of the National League (NL), which has operated continuously to the present day. It joined with the American League in 1903 to form modern Major League Baseball (MLB). The NL’s basic business model and operating format at its inception were essentially the same as those of modern professional baseball, as were most playing rules.

There were, however, some important differences circa 1880. First, league membership typically changed from year to year (see Eckard 2005). For example, by 1881 only Boston and Chicago remained of the original eight NL clubs. During 1876-83, 18 cities were represented. The NL had eight teams in each of these years except 1877 and 1878, when it had six.

A second difference was the entry of independent major leagues. In 1882 the American Association (AA) began play, recognized then and now as a second major league. The AA fielded six teams in its first year and eight in its second. It lasted for a decade before merging with the NL in 1892. In 1884 the Union Association (UA) claimed major status, although it lasted but a single season. It was highly unstable with several midseason failures. Including replacements, 13 cities were involved in its eight-team circuit. In response to this entry, the AA expanded to 12 teams for 1884 but with one failure and replacement also included 13 cities. Thus the total number of major-league teams more than doubled from 16 in 1883 to a still record 34 in 1884, with a concurrent significant dilution of player quality.

The season lasted from April to October, nearly as long as today, but fewer games were scheduled. During 1876-83 the number varied from only 60 (1877 and 1878) to 98 (1883), spread more or less evenly over the six-month season. Major-league clubs augmented their “championship” schedule with exhibition games against independent teams. An important difference in playing rules is that midgame player substitutions were allowed only in the case of injury. Thus there was no pinch-hitting, pinch-running, or late-game defensive substitution. Nor was there relief pitching as we know it today. A pitcher removed for poor performance had to trade positions with another player already in the game who could also pitch (called a “change” pitcher). But this seldom occurred; pitchers usually completed over 90 percent of their starts. Partly for this reason, circa 1880 pitchers were used much more intensively than today, with teams relying primarily on only one or two pitchers for the entire season. Also, pitchers often played in the field in games in which they did not pitch.

For all these reasons, rosters seldom had more than a dozen players at any one time, fewer than half the number on modern MLB teams. Clubs often took only 10 men on road trips plus a nonplaying agent of the owners responsible for general supervision and business matters. Player salaries circa 1880 varied roughly from $500 to $2,500, comparable to the wages of skilled craftsmen and many white-collar workers (see Voigt 1983: 56-57, 81). Contracts were typically for a single year, and contrary to myth, “revolving” or contract jumping among major-league teams was virtually nonexistent (Eckard 2001). Visit for more information.

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The first successful attempt by NL owners to limit competition for players was the partial reserve system introduced in 1880, applying to five players per team. Owners agreed among themselves not to bid for players reserved by other teams. But in 1880 and 1881 a few significant independent clubs still competed for top players (Eckard 2005: 127-28), undermining the resulting monopsony power. The nascent reserve system collapsed in 1882, when the entry of the AA caused a bidding war for players. In 1883 the AA and the NL agreed on a joint system, although it worked imperfectly before collapsing again with the 1884 entry of the UA.

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