Anti-Irish (or more specifically anti-Irish Catholic) bigotry is a current which runs deep in American history, from the late 17th to mid-20th centuries (and arguably still survives in some right wing, Protestant fundamentalist quarters today). It is one of Protestant England’s and Britain’s many cultural legacies to the United States, a legacy of Old World enmities transported to the New World that has at times either matched or clashed with the Republic’s many rival visions of itself.
Indeed, in some respects the founders of the United States of America were the creators of an idealised England of the West; White, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant: a new New England. Hardly surprising then that the Irish were as alien and as threatening to some in this reborn Jerusalem as they were to its cultural antecedents.
I examined this in my review of ‘The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies’ by award-winning historian Alan Taylor, and it is touched upon again in David Goldfield’s ‘America Aflame: How The Civil War Created A Nation’, reviewed here on the Salon.