How the Irish Became White [NOOK Book]

Overview

'…from time to time a study comes along that truly can be called ‘path breaking,’ ‘seminal,’ ‘essential,’ a ‘must read.’ How the Irish Became White is such a study.' John Bracey, W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, University of Massachussetts, Amherst


The Irish came to America in the eighteenth century, fleeing a homeland under foreign occupation and a caste system that regarded them as the ...

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How the Irish Became White

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Overview

'…from time to time a study comes along that truly can be called ‘path breaking,’ ‘seminal,’ ‘essential,’ a ‘must read.’ How the Irish Became White is such a study.' John Bracey, W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, University of Massachussetts, Amherst


The Irish came to America in the eighteenth century, fleeing a homeland under foreign occupation and a caste system that regarded them as the lowest form of humanity. In the new country – a land of opportunity – they found a very different form of social hierarchy, one that was based on the color of a person’s skin. Noel Ignatiev’s 1995 book – the first published work of one of America’s leading and most controversial historians – tells the story of how the oppressed became the oppressors; how the new Irish immigrants achieved acceptance among an initially hostile population only by proving that they could be more brutal in their oppression of African Americans than the nativists. This is the story of How the Irish Became White.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the first half of the 19th century, some three million Irish emigrated to America, trading a ruling elite of Anglo-Irish Anglicans for one of WASPs. The Irish immigrants were (self-evidently) not Anglo-Saxon; most were not Protestant; and, as far as many of the nativists were concerned, they weren't white, either. Just how, in the years surrounding the Civil War, the Irish evolved from an oppressed, unwelcome social class to become part of a white racial class is the focus of Harvard lecturer Ignatiev's well-researched, intriguing although haphazardly structured book. By mid-century, Irish voting solidarity gave them political power, a power augmented by the brute force of groups descended from the Molly Maguires. With help, the Irish pushed blacks out of the lower-class jobs and neighborhoods they had originally shared. And though many Irish had been oppressed by the Penal Laws, they opposed abolition-even when Daniel O'Connell, ``the Liberator,'' threatened that Irish-Americans who countenanced slavery would be recognized ``as Irishmen no longer.'' The book's structure lacks cohesion: chapters zigzag chronologically and geographically, and Ignatiev's writing is thick with redundancies and overlong digressions. But for the careful reader, he offers much to think about and an important perspective on the American history of race and class. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In a book he admits raises more questions than it answers, Ignatiev, a radical activist and editor of the journal Race Traitor, asserts that the Irish were initially discriminated against in the United States and "became white" by embracing racism, a concept Ignatiev (citing Daniel O'Connell) says they learned in the United States. Ignatiev targets the Irish because they were the largest immigrant group to compete with blacks for manual labor jobs. Does American labor history dismiss racism as an element in the workers' struggles? Did oppression in Ireland under the Penal Laws help to make the Irish oppressors in America, or did they learn racism only after reaching America? While many of the primary sources support Irish racism, fewer support Ignatiev's opinion on where it began. This book is more a springboard for discussion than a source of answers but is strongly recommended for that purpose.Robert C. Moore, DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Co. Information Svcs., N. Billerica, Mass.
From the Publisher
'…from time to time a study comes along that truly can be called ‘path breaking,’ ‘seminal,’ ‘essential,’ a ‘must read.’ How the Irish Became White is such a study.' - John Bracey, W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, University of Massachussetts, Amherst
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781135070694
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 11/12/2012
  • Series: Routledge Classics
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 507,601
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Noel Ignatiev (b. 1940) is best known for his call to abolish the white race. He was a co-founder and co-editor of the journal Race Traitor (an anthology from which won an American Book Award), and a co-founder of the New Abolitionist Society. He teaches history at the Massachusetts College of Art. American History

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
I Something in the Air 6
II White Negroes and Smoked Irish 34
III The Transubstantiation of an Irish Revolutionary 62
IV They Swung their Picks 92
V The Tumultuous Republic 124
VI From Protestant Ascendancy to White Republic 148
Afterword 178
Notes 189
Index 229
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