Introduction

Immigration plays a fundamental role in the story of the United States’ past, present and future.
The influx of immigrants during the 1800s, however, formed some of the strongest threads that wove the basic pattern of American life socially, economically and politically.

The Irish became one of the largest groups of immigrants during this time. They arrived in increasing numbers being both pushed out of their homeland and drawn to a new one in America. They crowded onto ships in Cork, Dublin and Galway and dreamed of their arrival in the cities of New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Some did not survive the long, treacherous journey across the Atlantic, but for those who did what welcomed them was a diverse, bustling, energized nation on the verge on an industrial explosion. The Irish proceeded to become integral characters in the creation of this burgeoning industrial giant. Nowhere is this point proven more than in the city of Lowell, Massachusetts. Lowell was rapidly becoming the center and model of textile industrialization and brought in all that were willing to contribute to that eminence.

Your assignment is to discover what role exactly these Irish immigrants played in the development of the United States as well as the impact that industrialization in general had on that development. Specifically, you will investigate the causes of Irish immigration during the first half of the 19th century. Be ready to consider what expectations the Irish had of their new home and what expectations did Americans have of them? What opportunities and challenges met them along their journey from Ireland to Lowell? Why is important as Americans today to understand the story of our nations’ immigrants past and present?