Date of Award

Summer 7-26-1960

Document Type



Department of History

First Advisor

Davis, Edwin

Second Advisor

Reed, Merl


Between the years of 1845 and 1855 over one and a quarter million of Ireland’s population fled to the United States in order to escape dire poverty and almost certain death in their native land. Only a small percentage of these immigrants settled in New Orleans, but this minority group played a significant role in this period of the city’s history. The purpose of this study was to determine how the Irish of New Orleans lived, what social and political problems their presence created, and in what ways they contributed to the growth and development of the city. Newspapers, census records, state government documents, and travelers' accounts are sources of information on this national group. These immigrants suffered many hardships on the long voyage to America, and many arrived with typhus and other diseases, which quickly spread through the squalid, filthy tenements in which they settled. The Irish worked hard during the day and congregated at night in the coffeehouses of the Irish Channel, where they drank and fought. Bloody riots occurred as the Know-Nothing Party tried to keep political power out of the hands of the Irish. Although these rowdy immigrants endangered the health of the city and threatened its political order, they constituted an invaluable source of labor for the commerce of the city and for the construction of badly needed canals, levees, and railroads.



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