About the Author:
Scott Molloy is an awardwinning Professor of Labor Relations at the Schmidt Labor Research Center, University of Rhode Island
About the Author
SCOTT MOLLOY is an award-winning Professor at the Labor Research Center, University of Rhode Island. He previously drove a bus, was a union activist, and was Chief of Staff to a United States Congresswoman. A prolific writer, Molloy’s most recent book is Trolley Wars: Streetcar Workers on the Line (UNH, 2007).
Table of Contents
Introduction: Spouting 1
The Irish Background 11
Rhode Island's Yankee Ascendancy 29
The Rhode Island Irish 59
The Woonsocket Rubber Company 80
A Knight of St. Gregory Against the Knights of Labor 106
Tragedy, Philanthropy, and Lace Curtain 140
Rubber King and Rubber Workers 168
The United States Rubber Company 196
Conclusion: A Memorial Forever 226
What People are Saying About This
“Irish Titan, Irish Toilers is a superlative labour history of Rhode Island at a formative stage in the industrialization of America. Its mid-century experience was fueled by an endless stream of impoverished Irish immigrants who often violently resisted discrimination and who kept alive memories of childhood pain and grievance for a distant time and place.
“From the ‘Bannikan’ cabin in county Monaghan to the Banigan mansion in Wayland Square, Providence, Scott Molloy uses Joseph Banigan's story and the Woonsocket Rubber Company as sounding boards for the story of Irish immigration into this nineteenth-century cauldron of political struggle and labor resistance. His authority and scholarship as a labor historian is, if anything, enhanced by the book’s racy, action-packed narrative of riots, strikes, ethnic prejudice, political chicanery, enterprise, initiative, and above all, in the end, American success and achievement. It's a story well told and well worth the reading.”
“Irish Titan, Irish Toilers is an inventive look at politics, culture, and identity in 19th century America. Scott Molloy’s book is, simultaneously, a biography, an ethnography, an industrial study, a labor history, and a foray into identity politics. His protagonist, Joseph Banigan (1839-98), embodies the fluidity of Gilded Age America, but also its limits. Molloy follows Banigan from his Famine Irish immigrant roots to his emergence as a Rhode Island-based rubber industry monopolist.
Molloy’s nuanced monograph challenges assumptions about social identity and invites us to consider how reputation, respectability, and manliness are constricted. He reconstructs a complex social milieu in which an Irish Catholic industrialist found himself in the midst of a dispute with the Knights of Labor, on organization comprised of large numbers of Irish Catholic workers in a state in which both were viewed with suspicion by entrenched Yankee elites. Molloy takes us inside a world in which paternalism has given way to hard-hearted industrial labor, the ethos of producerism is crumbling before market forces, the Catholic Church battles unions for workers’ souls, and shared ethnicity bifurcates along class lines.”