Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Irish and the Confederacy

According to the 1860 Census, 1,611,214 Americans had been born in Ireland. Of these 84,673 were living in Southern states that seceded and joined the Confederacy. Only 4,906 lived in South Carolina. 57,206 lived in Louisiana, Tennessee and Virginia. Many, if not most, of the 84,673 were not Irish Catholics. Of the 84,673 about twenty percent were males of military age (18-45), about 17,000. Only about 60 percent actually served in the Confederate army, about 10,000, if that. The Irish contribution to the Confederacy was inconsequential. On the other hand we know that over 200,000 Irish immigrants fought for the Union and many more of their children, notably Grant, Meade, Sherman, Reynolds, Sheridan, the Mahans, and Michael Healy (one of the first African American officers commissioned by Lincoln). 
 
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In 1856, its last year of existence before its Northern branch merge with the Republicans, the American (Know Nothing) Party received 872,703 votes. 307,843 came from Southern states that would join the Confederacy. The Know Nothings received an additional 185,776 votes from states where there were deep Southern roots and Confederate sympathies: Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Indiana. Despite strong Know Nothing sympathy in Massachusetts and New England, the Know Nothing movement was strongest in the South.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Black Ball Line

"A manuscript letter of prime significance in maritime history has recently come into the possession of the Marine Historical Association, Mystic, Connecticut.  Contained in the letter copybook of Jeremiah Thompson, who took the prime initiative in developing the Black Ball Line of sailing packets and of bringing southern cotton up the coast to New York to provide eastbound cargoes for them, is a letter pertaining to the inauguration of the first line of regularly scheduled sailing packets.  In this particular letter, reproduced below, Thompson and his three Quaker associates outline in detail the two firms who, they hoped, would handle the Liverpool end of the shuttle...."
-- Planning the Black Ball Line, 1817, Robert Albion, Gardiner Professor of History, Emeritus Harvard University, Business History Review, Spring 1967

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The founder of Cropper Benson & Co, James Cropper, Merchant in Liverpool, much involved with the cotton trade with the southern American states. As a Quaker James realised that his cotton trading clashed with his principles. 'It is a very difficult thing to keep from touching in any shape slave produce' he wrote in 1827.


The earliest record of the business enterprises of the Rathbones of Liverpool is the 1742 MS daybook of William Rathbone II, documenting a timber and ship-owning business.

"My grandfather's [William Rathbone IV] house sold the first American cotton grown in the United States, that ever was imported to this country . . . it came in eight bales and three barrels, and was seized at the Custom House for breaking the navigation laws, which stipulated that produce must come from any country in vessels belonging either to that country or to England, and they held that cotton was not grown in America. It was I believe, eighteen months before it was sold, as the staple was of different length to any in use then. I was told that my grandmother Rebecca had for a long time a sample of this cotton, and my grandmother Greg a sample of the cloth made from some of it; but neither has been found in our day." - William Rathbone, 'A sketch of Family History during four generations'

William Rathbone IV:  "Originally a member of the Society of Friends, he felt compelled to write a Narrative of Events in Ireland among the Quakers in 1786 in protest against religious intolerance in the Society, for which he was disowned from the Society in 1805. He would never join another religious body, though he occasionally worshiped with local Unitarian congregations."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The New York Times and the Irish Character
This Times editorial from 1871 is interesting because it illustrates root anti-Irish and anti-Catholic prejudice at the New York Times, prejudices inherited from the British Isles, the Know Nothings and the Puritan authors of America's Alien and Sedition Acts.  While espousing an evenhanded tolerance, this editorial is wrong in so many ways that it's hard to count.   One might start by noting that the New York individuals who were at work "corrupting" the Irish weren't Irish.  Infamous Boss Tweed's roots were Anglo-Scots Protestant.  Mayor Fernando Wood's were Anglo-German and Protestant, too.  The leader of the Democratic opposition to Lincoln during the recently fought Civil War was August Belmont, a German immigrant who was certainly neither Irish nor Catholic.   The leaders of the Confederacy were Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee,  Anglo-American Protestants.   The north's leading generals in that war -- William Tecumseh Sherman, Phil Sheridan, and George Gordon Meade -- were all raised by Irish Catholic families, as was the dean of West Point's faculty Dennis Hart Mahan.   Lincoln and Seward's principal ally in New York City was Archbishop Hughes, an Irish Catholic immigrant.  And Meade's prosperous family financed George Washington's army when it was starving at Valley Forge.

In fact, this editorial is a cover-up for the deaths of 60 civilians killed by the militia (National Guard) during the so-called Orange and Green riots.   In fact, the militia had been given orders beforehand to shoot anyone who appeared hostile... with predictable and tragic results.