Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Questions for Curatorial... New York Irish History

A while back I gave a Moore tour and was asked some questions I couldn't answer. As a responsible educator, I went back to the office and talked to our Curatorial Director, Dave Favaloro. So, if you happened to take my tour a few weeks ago and are faithfully reading the blog... here's what you wanted to know!

- Kate

1. Do we know if the other Moore daughters who died are formally, properly buried like baby Agnes?

Yes, all of the Moore children, as well as Bridget and Joseph, are buried in a family plot, which was purchased in April 1869 following Agnes’ death.

2. Were many middle or upper-class Irish moving to New York at the same time as Famine victims?

While few middle or upper-class Irish immigrated to New York during the 1840s and 1850s, by the mid-19th century, the city was home to an Irish community that according to historian Hasia Diner, “contained many economic layers,” including unskilled laborers and skilled craftsmen, as well as the more settled, affluent descendants of earlier Irish immigrants – merchants, physicians, lawyers, and teachers.

3. During the mid-19th century, did people from Northern Ireland immigrant to New York?
Although the majority of Irish immigrants who settled in New York during the 18th century were Protestants from Northern Ireland, by the mid-19th century, their numbers paled in comparison to Catholics from the south and west of Ireland.

4. What was the relationship between Catholic and Protestant Irish immigrants in the 19th century?

By the mid-19th century, Catholic Irish vastly outnumbered Protestant Irish in New York City. Relations between the two groups were generally adversarial, and sometimes hostile and even violent.

The worst episodes of violence between Catholic and Protestant Irish in these years were the Orange and Green Riots of 1870 and 1871. In 1870, eight people were killed when outraged Catholics protested during the annual July 12 Boyne Day march, held by Protestant Irish Orangemen to celebrate the victory of Prince William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Tensions within the Irish community had been building for years, as Protestants argued against the Catholic "threat" to American values and their "inability to be good citizens." The following year, plans for the march coincided with the first revelations of the Tweed Ring scandal, in which Boss Tweed and his Tammany followers had taken millions of dollars from the city in political graft. Rumors of violence on both sides prompted the state to provide the marchers with military and police protection, despite attempts by Mayor A. Oakley Hall to ban the parade.

In 1871, threats of violence proved correct when crowds of Catholic Irish lining the parade route along Eighth Avenue began throwing rocks at the marchers. In response, the military accompaniment began to shoot indiscriminately into the crowd, killing sixty-two, mainly Catholics. While the 1871 riot was the last major outbreak of violence against Irish Catholics, Orangemen continued to march for several more years and join organizations like the American Protective Association that espoused nativist ideals.

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