Irish Immigration

As you research and learn more about a topic, you will begin to consider the historical context of a topic to narrow the focus of your research.In your initial post, do the following:Share the topic you have chosen for the projects in this course with your classmates. Briefly describe the historical event you have chosen to analyze as well as the research question you will attempt to answer in your essay. (Research Question: What I would like to learn more about, is when was the initial turning point for the Irish immigrants as they started to persevere economically in American society). Consider your webtext reading about Québécois immigration. If you were researching this topic, what else would you like to know about the experience of the Québécois immigrants in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1870 that might not be covered in this piece?Attach Below is the Quebecois Article…Mobility Potential and the Quality of Life in Working-Class Lowell, MassachusettsLowell, at the close of the American Civil War in 1865, was a major industrial town and center for textile production. Only Fall River, Massachusetts, exceeded Lowell in the production of textiles in the United States in this period. Almost 40 percent of Lowell’s workforce was engaged in manufacturing and mechanical industries, mostly related to textile production. Although 65 percent of Lowell’s populace of 41,000 was native-born in 1870, the majority of workers in the textile industry were drawn from the various, largely English-speaking immigrant groups resident in Lowell at this time: 22 percent of the total population was Irish, 4 percent was English, and 3 percent was from Scotland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and “other.” In addition, in 1870, 6 percent of Lowell’s citizenry was Canadian, in large measure Québécois.Lowell attracted many working-class people in the immediate post-Civil War years. In its annual report for the year 1866 the Ministry-at-Large of Lowell, a non-denominational charity organization, noted with consternation that in the past two years over 10,000 persons, many of whom were “utterly destitute,” had entered the city in search of work. Many of the persons arriving in Lowell were “wretchedly poor” working-class people from other New England cities who were attempting to “better their condition.” The report continued with a statement that a significant portion of the newcomers were Québécois. They were described in a highly unflattering manner:”They are nearly all Catholic, do not speak English, are in a low, sensual condition of life, and are less disposed than others to improve themselves. They are not so accessible to our influence. Not mingling freely with society, they do not catch the dominant spirit. The great hope is with the children, who, in our common schools, are readily acquiring our language and adopting our ideas and feelings, and will become teachers to their parents.”The Ministry-at-Large evidently accepted, albeit grudgingly, that the French-Canadian influx into Lowell was not a temporary phenomenon. In this, the report was correct. In 1865 only a handful, perhaps 100 Québécois, resided in Lowell. By 1868 the number was around 1200. A brief two years later, in 1870, the approximate number of Québécois living in Lowell was 2000, 5 percent of the Lowell population of 41,000. In the next three decades the French-Canadian population would increase to 15,000, accounting in 1900 for about 16 percent of the 95,000 residents of the city.The French-Canadian presence in Lowell in the latter part of the nineteenth century was part of a larger pattern of migration. Between 1860 and 1900 approximately 600,000 Québécois migrated to New England. By 1900 one in every ten New Englanders or about 575,000 persons, was of French-Canadian stock. Roughly one in every four French Quebecers was living in New England in 1900.Québécois abandoned their homeland for economic reasons: the rural system could no longer provide livelihoods for many farmers’ sons and Quebec industry was undeveloped. Soil depleting farming methods combined with repeated subdivision of lands among the offspring of the large French-Canadian families had by mid-century destroyed the viability of the traditional Quebec agricultural system. Although Quebec land was available for colonization, this alternative was largely unsuccessful as most virgin farm land was located in remote areas of Quebec with inadequate transportation facilities. To a large extent, therefore, Québécoiss had little choice but to migrate. As noted in the report of the Seventh Census of Canada (1931), Québécois were forced to settle in New England in this period “not in quest of a higher standard of living but to avoid a lower.”The economic and demographic factors which pushed Québécois out of Quebec were complemented by similar factors which favored their settlement in New England. Southern New England was by 1865 experiencing rapid economic growth. Industrialization, well under way by the 1860s, created a stiff demand for workers in the textile and boot and shoe industries. Laborers were also needed in building construction and in canal and railroad work. The native and Irish-immigrant labor force present in New England in 1865 could not meet the labor demands of industry. In increasing numbers, therefore, Québécois responded to the lack of economic opportunity in Quebec by moving to industrial centers like Lowell in New England to procure work.

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