Irish Rural Culture and the Bergen Hill Riots - Immigrant Workers and Industrial Protest in the Mid-1800s
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In the middle of the nineteenth century, Irish immigrants to New York and beyond provided much of the labor for the large American construction projects of the era. The infrastructure building projects, which provided the country with its railroads, canals, roads, and aqueducts, were completed to a large extent by Irish workers. The history of these projects is filled with accounts of collective violence. Immigrant Irish workers were quick to resort to violence in a host of situations. An illustrative local case was the long series of riots that occurred during the building of the railroad and tunnel in Hudson County, New Jersey. The IMAGE I NINETE F$3100) THIE area under construction, now a part of Jersey 0th pyrite and J FR S Y CItY TO RA1919: City, was referred to as Bergen Hill. Many of 110 Sunili -E OLYIN-WAITINK. C the issues and problems present at other construction disorders were involved at Bergen Hill.
Although some labor historians view work-Illustration: An EARLY IRISH LABOR EXPERIENCE ers in the first half of the nineteenth century as I Erie-Lackawanna Irish immigrants in the 1800s arrived with few belonging to distinctive working class that was map indicating the Bergen Hill area, 4 industrial skills. However, they were strong and in conflict with capitalism, this position does stereoview of an Erie willing workers. Without education or skills, not seem true in the case of the unskilled steam locomotive most were absorbed into the construction indus-Famine immigrants.' The early Famine immifrom the 1850s, and rock sample from try, where over half the employees were foreigngrants had no history of industrial activity. the Bergen Tunnel born and half of this number were from Ireland.' English immigrants who were influenced by the excavation.
Irish immigrant laborers were exploited by Chartist movement that had started in Britain the construction industry that required their during the 1830s formed many of the earliest services. While Irish immigrant laborers recruited unions in New York. The unskilled and pover-Dr. Hugh O'Rourke is in gangs completed many of the large canal and ty-stricken Irish of the 1840s and 1850s were Chair of the Criminal rail road systems, the work sites were in rural locausually not prepared to organize unions until Justice Program at tions, and frequent movement was often required they began to gain: foothold in industry. The Westchester Community as sections of the work were completed. Most rioting, drinking, and interpersonal violence of College. A retired New York City Police Capmin, he is a laborers lived in temporary housing without the Irish canal and railroad laborers were not Roundtable member and wives, families, friends, or the spiritual consolaevidence of a class struggle. Rather than develfrequently invited speaker tion of the clergy. Alcohol abuse, inadequate oping distinctive working-class culture, as did on the history of the Irish in the New York area. wages, and violence were constant features in theother more skilled American laborers, the Irish lives of the laborers. Other employment opportuworking-class culture initially tended to reflect nities in major cities also tended to offer back-the agrarian Irish rural culture. This robust rural©2000. Published with the breaking labor at very low wages. culture was highlighted by alcohol, vigorous permission of Hugh E O'Rourke.
Vol.14, 2000 PAGE 6 NEW YORK 1RISH HISTORY play, and faction fights, which continued in workers adopted the name "Molly Maguires" to their new surroundings. safeguard the WBA and the AOH. (The Molly Irish rural culture was marked by agricultural Maguires were a secret faction in Ireland that violence and by faction fighting, which can in part attacked its enemies during agrarian strife.) The be explained as recreational fighting. By the early Molly Maguires used a style of agrarian violence nineteenth century, rural protests became a deepthat originated in north central Ireland between in seated tradition in Ireland. Protestors created 1760 and 1850. Employing "retributive justice," secret societies that included semi-military organthe Irish struck back at their oppressors in at rural ization, special dress, rituals, secret passwords, Ireland and in industrial America. In Ireland, codes of behavior, and rituals of intimidation landlords, their agents, policemen, magistrates, and punishment.3 and other farmers were subject to assault, arson In the United States in the mid-1800s, Irish attacks, cattle maiming, and murder. Many of immigrants were noted for their clannishness, the same tactics were used in Pennsylvania which was a result of the disadvantages they had against mine owners, policemen, municipal offifaced in Ireland. Antagonisms turned Irish loyalties cials, and mine superintendents. The Molly inward and created an intense local patriotism that Maguires also found that their enemies appeared centered on regionalism, religion, and family ties.4 to be the same English and Protestant antagonists The English traveler Frederick Marryat, in notes who caused them so many problems in Ireland.6 taken during his trip to the United States in 1837 Historian Charles Tilly (1969) classified colto 1838, commented on the Irish immigrants: "It lective violence as primitive, reactionary, or modwould be supposed that, having emigrated to ern.7 Primitive violence is most often associated America and obtained the rights of citizens, they with local people dissociated from central would have amalgamated and fraternized to a cerpower. The violence is usually directed against tain degree with the people; but such is not the members of rival groups and includes feuds, case; they hold themselves completely apart and disbrawls, and religious rivalries. However, the tinct, living with their families in the same quarter of notion of traditional enemies can be only a prethe city and adhering to their own manners and custext for the collective violence. Much of this viotoms. They are just as little pleased with the instilence is for "the fun of it," or recreational, and is tutions of the United States as they are with the often present at fairs, funerals, feasts, and other government at home." (italics added) events that bring together local antagonists. It The Irish in the United States found that also serves to reinforce group solidarity. Primitive they faced injustices similar to those in Ireland. violence is usually nonpolitical and intensely During the 1860s and 1870s, Irish laborers were local in objectives and motives. Recreational batin the process of organizing a working-class subtling can be considered as a form of team sports in culture and were on the verge of establishing an era before organized athletics. Membership in unions to represent their cause. However, many the group could achieve the goals of physical activof their tactics had roots in Irish rural culture. ity, danger, and excitement.* Thus, the organization of coal miners in the While looking for deeper meaning for anthracite region of Pennsylvania used the fachuman activities, more obvious explanations may tion-fighting and secret-society format that was be the most persuasive. Conley (1999) explained familiar to the downtrodden Irish workers. faction fighting as a response to the monotony of When the coal miners were unable to achieve rural Irish life. As the legal system tended to turn satisfactory representation by the fledgling a blind eye to the activities of the Irish peasantry, Workingman's Benevolent Association (WBA), faction fighting and recreational brawling flourfounded in 1868, they reverted to the secret-sociished.® Conley would generally be in agreement ety and faction-fight model. The Irish workers with Jack Katz, who examined the relationship had the Ancient Order of Hibernians in their between fun, pleasure, and criminal activity. Katz communities. The AOH provided an organizauses the term seductions of crime to describe the tion for primitive union that would be used to situational inducements that lead to violence. formulate attacks against the mine operators. The Fighting is exciting and fulfills personal needs.10 Vol.14, 2000 NEW YORK 1R15H HISTORY PAGE 7 Rural Irish peasants, without exciting recreational from the various provinces and counties, and of outlets such as sports, used collective violence as a the resultant mindless violence.12 socially sanctioned recreational source. The editor of the Irish American, P. Lynch, was In contrast to primitive violence, reactionary ever the supporter of the Famine immigrants' collective violence involves small groups in conflict cause. In 1850, Joseph Brennan, a correspondent with representatives of the powerful. for the Nation in Dublin, wrote an article criticiz-Anticonscription, antitax, anti-land enclosure ing the behavior movements, and Luddite actions are a few of the of the newly reactionary and backward-looking forms of vioarrived immilence associated with people attempting to hold grants and their onto rights that they fear are in jeopardy. quick resort to Reactionary collective violence is often directed violence as a against the central power or the elites in society. problem-solving It is political in the broad sense in that it attempts technique. to influence powerful elements in society to allow Brennan stated the less powerful to continue in their traditional that he assumed manner without interference. Nineteenth-centuthat the Irish ry Ireland experienced a great deal of agrarian immigrants violence that was based on attempts to regain or would have left control land as a matter of rights or tradition. behind their age-Modern collective violence is usually the most old antagonisms well organized and has the most obvious political and would have improved their behavior as they no or economic purposes. Modern collective violonger faced the same stresses. However, he found lence involves strikes and political demonstrathat "religious bigotry and party feuds have crossed tions, which attempt to achieve new rights or the Atlantic with our people. Our nature has not powers. Labor issues, temperance, and suffrage changed with the clime. We are the same under the movements are typical causes that have resulted de'star-spangled banner' as under the 'union jack. In in modern collective violence. Many of these answering Brennan, Lynch attempted to explain demonstrations are mainly shows of force, but the behavior of the new immigrants: "We do not they can result in violence, especially when govpossess that 'adaptability' which Thierry attributes Illustration: John ernmental authorities overreact to them."1 to the Danes. We everywhere retain our character- "Blackjack" Kehoe, istic manners, virtues, and regret to add, vices."13 the Schuylkill CRITICISMS OF IMMIGRANT VIOLENCE The New York press was filled with accounts County, PA delegate The Irish Emigrant's Guide for the United States, of strange fights involving the immigrants. Fights of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, also first published in 1849, was an early guide for could occur over trivial disputes. The New York known as "The King Irish immigrants. Rev. John O'Hanlon, a pre-Times in September 1853 reported a Brooklyn of the Mollies." Kehoe Famine immigrant, wrote it as a handbook for fight between a gang of Irish laborers over who was executed in 1877. the tens of thousands who were fleeing Ireland. was the best street paver. 14 Rev. O'Hanlon instructed the immigrant on Andrew Leary O' Brien left one of the few practical issues such as travel arrangements and immigrant journals from the pre-Famine immiemployment opportunities. He advised readers to gration era. O'Brien was the son of a wealthy avoid public-works projects and warned them farmer in Moileragh, Kanturk, County Cork. not to involve themselves in factional fighting He was well educated, and his ambition was to with men from other parts of Ireland. Apparently, be ordained a Catholic priest. He emigrated in Rev. O'Hanlon had become familiar with a great 1837 and enrolled in Chambly College, a semideal of this behavior in his years in the United nary near Montreal. However, he did not com-States. He cautioned immigrants to avoid associplete his studies, and he began traveling around ating with provincial factions and to avoid strong the United States. He proved to be a competent alcohol, which led to violence. He was aware of mason and found work on the many constructhe rivalry that was associated with immigrants tion projects then under way.
Vol.14, 2000 PAGE B NEW YORK 1R15H HISTORY 941 • In his journal, O'Brien O'Brien was candid in admitting that "the discussed working on canal cause of this [hatred] I could not satisfactorily Timics. project near Lancaster, discover. I never knew or heard of it till got on Pennsylvania, in May 1838. the canal. One of the opposite party dare not PRICE TWO CENTS. He worked for a masonry seek employment on a contract where the other turned to aim i - bla. bade, i taken to We lad a molendd military trentBands.1 contractor in a crew of fellow party were in employ."16 ad a tostbattls near Fort Principe, in which fortunately, there wane vary few grave immigrants from Cork. O'Brien described instances where one fac-The Opera Company aloned last night unbe should conclude to give de more MIsel." MAx MA-O'Brien described the deadly tion would attack a worker from another faction arTIEd has done well, goss to Now-Odeans for a trial strongth,;with the ipredeb Opera ip that ally. rivalry between the Irish and kill him without any cause, other than that The stourship Phd Malphis la expocted this morning. Anxiety is felt for r safety, being out of time.
Preparation for dentasd with Mexico continuos, 1 war will not belthe rewalt, workers, who were divided he was a member of an opposing faction. These The bark afari intoundered: oBicers i to shier into factions based on geoattacks were daily occurrences, and the huts and Sultan, and se1 the United . demands-Brig Sultan lost mate drerbourd, Jetrig Cadet i 1 bed, weather graphical regions. tents of the workers required an armed watch at e to exhibit.name not givesil utation, & Lay Tulare *On ME aSTON, Pridoy, 1 Ireland was, of course, night to prevent attack. The large number of sin-William The steamship Trabel. witKey West and Havtinbed bundrod Wha Ana dater to t 10th tust, arrirod at this portThe newel divided into four provincesgle men on the site and the availability of alcohol, portent. grostea a Willlam would age bor peedingers MAX MABSTaNg 00d his Every i troups. unknown Ulster, Munster, Leinster, which was dispensed by the contractor, exacero British a Oroien had gene to placos.for Be this sien A Toldgraph Company had boon formed Havans and Connaughtand was bated the problems. , vardaney, to lay a cable to may What. .Dr. Kani'a benita bad much improved.
Carthagona comeBays that the British would out carry into effect the bockade until the Souses, as further divided into thirty-Violence against laborers from other regions action of Congress Was Known we Ropire City arrived at Tavaan on the 4th lost, oloned at a who au Sugars were aotiire ap molasses dull, with amali rethe soldierytwo counties. Workers was common in rural Ireland. Spalpeens, which is I bell -aad coipta, peared like a VAUGH-A-BALLA'11:Pot * satietended to associate with what wandering laborers were called, often faced ovally er An Irish Riot in Hudson City, N. J.During individuals from their violence when they arrived in an area at harvest-Hockedy Free Fight Pewist Corkonians and Farday by ta downers. native county or province. time. The local laboring population greatly One Dend,- Soreral Fatally Wounded.about privat Recurring battles occurred resented the competition, and these seasonal Fifty taken Prisoners, THE NEW JERSEY MILITIA CALLED OUT.between immigrant factions laborers were often attacked. 17 Word having reached un Saturday evening at 1 o'elafrom these various regions. O'Brien left the canal job after five months. that a terrible riot way raging at the Erie Hullroad This fact was well known He believed that the violence was the result of the nemortilize In prosements In Hudson City, (about two milos Contabani from thy Bybil's| Care ia Hoboken,) we dispatebed pollce, tun ground,screrul of our roporters to the spot, who found, in-wore detal ace BIll dord, that 1 was a torrible rot. It took no limle Ittee. time the confusion that prevailed to got at itato the contractors, who Irish laborers themselves. He intended to "never atco had d origin,-svery min, woman and child having a diferrelativatnt ntory to tell, and bra braque so much increanad no follo the excitement that the more they mieusually hired entire crews more live where I would be obligated to deal so resto,! an FaR understood.! or párticipas Tbere are visa twelvp bundred Irishmen from one of the factions tolargely with the lower class of the Irish in this She Bergen I• the Erio Railrond, 8 Pauli, Th tog their monthly payday, they Whisky flowed freeeMichae avoid violence.15 country on public works, where liquor could be nd under stA ruction' 8900 thiage generilly do, be- • Far-Downer--discueing In his journal, O'Brien had by them at command for take it, this is Morris atlo brinkly thecir factiona, r Yankee rendorn must know, I c Province,Munster, which is in La, Phasdescribed the hatred their ruin, this is the cause of all their misfortuthe ouch a A Far-Downer comes from " the black North" or that portion of the island between "Fardowns" and which in nearest Scotland--whore the Giant's Cause. Many otnate proceedings."18 way ta. Each cidims that he is the better man, and the timo e when either ban the whisky in be coo al wags prove It abota, sag "Corkonians" on his cona an asclent' Foud, wad of ohseure origin, '&. Pat were neis *k takes no althe tustter. desce ag Irishmen fello An int struction project. BERGEN HILL VIOLENCE IN THE FACTIONdied cor Hudson npply bad. gallows, for IntComing u AmericaThis t Chie veling, na every day's reportCorkonians were immi-FIGHTING TRADITION alary lo mutatut lic sturday came early to a knock Poenceto : grants from Cork. O'Brien A series of riots occurred between factions of Irish oth. parter woon. Delug reinforved uy their pli auto general througheat the vil receive! a tunnol. In a very incorrectly identified workers at the Bergen Hill railroad project. The Iriabmeu wens cagaged weru tb fight. Towarde 4 o'clock urday n 5, a rush was made fu* shantios," Fardowns as immigrants project was undertaken by the Long Dock ashes, while four cliabe, t en pullod do wu. Stones, brir&bata,from County Kerry and Company in 1856 and was completed in 1861. y immigia le misalle Dow in all di- 1 guns, kn/res, axes, club, cartrungs, t o., were brought into requisidion. The ' other counties in the south-The work was the most extensive tunnel under-Hacsoe County. Henny 1 BEaTY, ninorroeiding in Budson City, was quickly on werk, ho ha and dispatchen wore wont to his foree.: she ground wista ern part of Ireland. In fact, taking of the time. The tunnel was 4,300 feet Huboken Olly, fursey City, and Bergen, for the vari. sup military od keep the ol march inuoilatoly to tue ground. r live th sl the term Fardown, from the long and passed through solid rock. 19 Mayor C. V. CLickion bendable alacrityGot Hoboken, with couns of mea dispatched ordara to Col. called, ALEZ. SHALKE,of the First Hog ment, Irish donn ("dark man"), A riot between two factions of laborers on naught ch they were Some delay was experience sending to Now. York their 1us multary companies la, the city. the of the was used to refer to personsSaturday, February 14, 1857, resulted in one death cartridges, of which, unfortunately, compa,4:10 o'clocz pay-das, a persou Liable • bad but a email maypiss but at *y wore cöllected tog, And at obtely in ciner from the northern counties and several serious injuries. At the time, the workthe were of the flot. The followingatimulated. companies from loboken: Annght up Iligbiand! Guard, Capt. JANEs T. LATeR sInat abont it of Ulster. It is apparent that ers were constructing track about two miles from diet amara Nation:d Cou 4, Cay. G. VAN HOSTEN,the number The wesl Hudson Mined Capt. F. W. DonNazalori hereafter t Hudson Artillery. Joapt. Wa. HEXAs, Nc the some of the animosities between the Hoboken, New Jersey. The violence started in the Hodsca County CavalryInge by c proventic When about gulf why up Bergen HI, the aslitary considerabl afternoon of the monthly payday. The twelve hunst day of cis, to walt unto the wounds of a prisoner could be from thhalted, at the order of Uader-Shorid Jour M. Pa4x. badly, and two groups were so great New tr belt an hairsto the County Prison,after day devased in order lt: that O'Brien had little condred Irish workers were reportedly drinking and tact with Fardowns. celebrating payday. Corkonian and Connaught Vol.14, 2000 NEW YORK 1R15H HISTORY PAGE 9 factions began fighting, and the disorders spread to met with the contractor and a Catholic priest in shanties surrounding the work site. The factions an attempt to prevent violence. The president were armed with pistols, rifles, and a variety of of the New York and Erie Railroad Companies crude weapons. Faction fighters entered the also addressed the workers and explained the shanties of the opposing faction and beat men, problems in the money markets. Drinking by women, and children. Several shanties were the unemployed workers exacerbated the probburned or pulled to the ground. lem. The New York Times suggested that "if The sheriff of Hudson County, Henry B. liquor could be kept away from them, there is Beatty, responded but he was unable to restore little fear of any outbreak occurring."22 order. Militia units from Hoboken, Jersey City, and Bergen were called to assist the sheriff.
Forty-five arrests were made. Eventually, the riot died out, and the sheriff and militia took control. The next day, Sunday, found several thousand visitors to the area who expected to witness another battle. They were not disappointed.
I chant a maste An issue in the conflict was the location of shanties. The Corkonians and the Connaught factions had their temporary dwellings in separate locations. The Corkonians encroached on the Connaught area, and after period of postpayday drinking early on Sunday, the FINLA Connaught men attacked and attempted to drive off the Corkonians. The battle raged from about 1 P.M. to midnight. The New York Times suggested that the riot would have been worse if half of the workers had not been at work in the tunnel. The contractor prevented those at work The financial problems in the United States from entering the affray by drawing up ladders increased and prevented the adequate financing and keeping them in the tunnel.20 of the Bergen Hill tunnel. Work was suspended Illustration: The Sporadic violence continued among the tunon the project in late September when the con-Bergen Tunnel, N.J. nel workers. Some months after the Bergen Hill tractor could not pay his employees. After hav-East, c1890. riot, on Sunday, August 16, 1857, a large party of ing missed a month's wages, more than four Courtesy of the intoxicated Irish workers began fighting in Jersey hundred of the workers gathered to tear up the Library of Congress City. The police attempted to stop the battle, but rail road tracks of the main line. The treasurer of were attacked when the Irish united and turned on Hudson City, Jacob Miller, addressed the crowd them. The police made two arrests.3 and promised to help them get their back pay, which amounted to about $15,000. With that BERGEN HILL VIOLENCE AND INDUSTRIAL pledge, the workers left the area. 23 Illustration: (Left) PROTEST Some of the workers left the project and The New York The panic of 1857 caused financial difficulties for the contractor supervising the tunnel proj-Works was at the time constructing the 16, 1857 reported an "Irish riot" ect. Monday, September 14, was payday for the Ridgewood Reservoir. The workers were Irish, beween factions at the twelve hundred tunnel workers. Unfortunately, and a riot broke out when the company hired Bergen Tunnel workdue to the financial disorders in the money some of the laborers from the troubled Bergen site where, according markets, the contractor was able to raise only Hill Tunnel. The New York Times reported that to the newspaper, "Whiskey flowed $35,000. In addition, the disputes between the the project manager hired Fardowns from the freely.....and a ruc-Corkonians and Connaught factions continued, tunnel project. The Times may have been inaccufound work elsewhere. The Brooklyn Water Times for Februarytion' was soon and threats of renewed violence were real. The rate, however, as the Fardown faction had not raised. " mayor of Hudson City (later part of Jersey City) been mentioned in the previous Bergen Hill Vol.14, 2000 NYIHR_P05orourke_V14_6.qxd 6/10/05 12:17 AM Page 10 page 10 New York Irish History Tunnel riots. The laborers then working on the refused to work until they were paid. The new project objected to the new faction and drove contractor, A. B. Seymour, promised that they them off the site. 24 would be paid at the beginning of the next month.
An arrangement with Robert H. Berdell, vice president of the Long Dock Company, provided the contractor with $5,400, which was to be used only for the payment of wages.
However, the contractor did not use it to pay the workers. With that, the workers broke out into a riot and blocked the tracks. Some of the workers were satisfied with a vague promise of a month's wage to be paid on October 1 and wanted to resume working. Others were not satisfied and prevented them from returning to the project. A large party of workers blocked the tracks of the Northern and Erie Railroads for three days and prevented trains from passing their barricade.
Again, the militia units of Hudson County were called up to deal with the workers. However, Sheriff Beatty of Hudson County could not be found, and without a direct request from him, Colonel Gregory would not leave the armory.
Many of the militia members appear to have been less than enthusiastic to act against the strikers.
Although the call for the militia was made shortly after the noontime strike, the militia was still not assembled as late as 10 P.M. Eventually only 150 members of the six militia units responded. 25 Illustration: The Times The public and the local governmental officials for September 17, 1859 appeared to have sympathy for the workers. The reported another riot at Although the panic of 1857 caused widedisappearance of Sheriff Beatty may have been an the Bergen Tunnel workspread unemployment and economic hardships, attempt to avoid acting against the strikers. site, this one occasioned the financing of the Bergen Hill tunnel was at least The project at this time employed a thouby wages that were not paid when the project temporarily secure. However, the project again ran sand men. The work was characterized as "of the ran out of funds. Workers out of funds in September 1859. When the worklaborious and exhausting character ...performed barricaded the railroad ers were not paid their wages on September 15, underground and when the workers emerge from tracks for three days. they struck for one month's back wages and the different shafts, appear like the laborers in Vol.14, 2000 NEW YORK 1R15H HISTORY PAGE 11 collieries in England coming out of the mines."prices. Wages were then paid in goods and in The workers were paid one dollar a day. If the alcohol, which were quickly consumed. workers missed any time at work or if the con-A committee of prominent citizens assembled tractor could not pay them, the in Hoboken and workers had little reserve to adopted resolution 19, 1859. fall back on for relief.26 that was supportive -The New This inadequate wage RAILROAD RIOT. good citi of the Bergen Hill Enquirer i mediate : TIMES Resolve was common for unskilled y the Clstrikers. None of the Presidential Disturbances on Saturday and Resolu report of his morning Sunday, Irish immigrant labor. The names of committee . a profound a hen u method of G. GHE members appeared to great numbers of immigrants been secured Obstructions the Road---Delay of the with th lates for the A cles pouring into New York City Trains and Mails. be Irish. The plight of fished their storm a seem to be depressed the wages of both end to the workers had struck ow jour. eight THE MILITARY AGAIN CALLED OUT. nd render lanDe skilled and unskilled labor. rooms a chord among some ur object WAR DI front c ntelligent Fight Between the Rioters and the Police The New York Times reported of the prominent, hich they a few the di telligence that it would require an annual non-Irish community t of the SIXTY MEN ARRESTED. 'uld ever wage of $600 for a family of leaders. nought ake ov ORDER RESTORED AND THE TRACK CLEARED. four to live moderately in New oubtedly SUgE Mayor Collard of The scenes of riot and disorder which took place on, 1 York City. However, few workers veal lin Hudson City, which two years ago this Fall uponErie Railroad tunhad blish Mr.net; at Bergen Hill. have been repeated during the Instit could earn the $11.54 weekly with Bergen Hill was eat alleged past three daya, occasioned, as in the former instance, of th )rhis' reby the failure of the contractor to fulill his engage-nizec dress wage that would provide this meats with the workmen by promptly paring them atincorporated into perso the time agreed. The custom has been to pay the men milita moderate level of comfort. Most vas genmonthly. A store was established near the works by of mi Jersey City in 1870;went to Mr. SEYmOUR, the contractor, whence the workmen Cor principles were permitted do draw supplies for their families.Arti laborers and factory workers in Col. various government The alleged anterior quality of the provisions, and that he IEL.D. exorbitant prices charged for them, were Was New York City earned less than and railroad officials; dissatisfaction while theNati I that hetion decause ofdifficuly stated, other side, High ave: the to be, that many $5 a week, and few worked the boardinghouseGreen To a Catholic priest, ation be kee1 Natal kept liquor for sale, which • absorbed on. The the earnings of the men, und left their families without periods of unemploye; great nerdy;. To preventthis abuse, Mr. Sermou recuntlyAt thintel Rev. Vanetta; and the quesrefused to stop the liquor bills out of the wages of the ed H ment during the year. 37 men, and gave notice that local police officers he future he should not motive artiller his entire pay flem.watches. a step naturally excited against him ing the strong opposition among aclass of persons who had Newspaper accounts Mi. T went to the barried and dis. great influene the less intelligent portion oformed forthwith workmen, and when their p bEy nu not forthcoming, reported other injustices that cades and unsuccess-TooD wasthey w While cited to violent measures. mob had the workers endured. The confully attempted to have recently The embarrassments of the Eric Railroad Company | pruness bonds of the t put it out of their power to negotiate the 1 Yo can tractor established a company Isement lock Company, by which the coninsteadprodicie get the workers to tractor had been enabled to raise the money with which s of that to carry un store where the workers bought hotels other faults pave been chargoableworks; but until recently, whatever lant banksthe contractor, whole: desist. The mayor is the the Company applaud him for the energy he has disfive thou ing conplayed i pushing forward the work of excavation,house, a their food and paid for it nirbanco read the riot act, fulcom-Aboutia thousand men are employed, who occupy had clar ent to anshanties neer the -shafts, in the outskirts of ludson coedings through a stoppage of wages. this week, City. The work is of the most laborious and exhaust.The r but the workers work ; charactor. It is performed under ground, and theeach ou The workers complained of hich posmen, when eemerge from the different shafts, apto the d spurdshouted him down. ements of pear like the laborers in collieries in England coming motive out of the poor quality and exorbitant portunity Their pay is one dollar per day. welen:Eventually, the mili-Illustration: On sat advan-Dependentpotely upon their scanty carnings, the dress ul purted by | #lightest in September 19, 1859, prices. Another problem was the tia moved against chuecs there serious embarrassment, and in many but ttion in the receipt of their wages soirc. signal the New York Times emscives case* much suffering. These troubles are enhanced the loca payment of liquor bills out of the striking rioters, tre. The by the approach of the cool season, when it is neces-Park su reported the use of heaves ge" is the stry to furnish extra clothing und fuel for threads : their fumilles, wages. The boardinghouse keepdilateson and after a brief batmilitia and the police nave 120 #flapkesl. . Considerations of this kind hare had great effect he nasis sure in millifying public • indignation against theirP obstr against rioters at ers provided alcohol to their tentle, they arrested 45 lace, at lawless acts, a prevented the anthoritics and the little Bergen Hill, with no n*-ar ants, payment for which was military, yesterday, from prorceding to extreme meas Mr. FEAS einb, * strikers. Furtherures in putting down. The damage to the light. moment I mention of factions. not unly by theinterruption ofdown hi ample Company A deducted from the tenants' arrests increased the duce insecurity which it Pearc Following 4 large tavo. have. monthly wages. This practice was total to 72. Most were number of arrests, barricaded tracks stopped by the contractor, who arrested on little evidence, were cleared and, the blamed the poverty of the workers on their abuse and 39 were quickly dismissed in court.29 paper stated, order of alcohol. The workers, liquor dealers, and board-No mention is made of factionalism among was restored. inghouse operators opposed this action.25 the workers. Corkonian, Fardown, and Connaught The problem of the company store and the rivalries were now less relevant, as the industrialsale of alcohol to the laborers by contractors was izing Irish immigrants were confronting a new widespread. Unscrupulous contractors provided reality, that of exploited laborers. Casting aside food and supplies at isolated camps at exorbitant regional differences, the traditional violent Vol.14, 2000 PAGE 12 NEW YORK 1RISH HISTORY 9. C. Conley, "The Agreeable Recreation of Fighting," response formerly used against agricultural oppo-Journal of Social History, Vol. 33, No. 1 (1999), p. nents was now the choice of behavior against 57-72. industrial employers.
The Irish immigrant of the period initially 10. Larry Siegel, Criminology, 5th ed. (St. Paul, MN: West, acted according to a cultural tradition that 1995), p. 115. accepted collective violence as both a problem- 11. Charles Tilly, p. 13-29. solving technique and a recreational activity.
Collective violence in New York City and the sur- 12. Edward J. Maguire, Reverend John O'Hanlon's The Irish Emigrant's Guide for the United States: A Critical Edition rounding counties was a continuation of tradiwith Introduction and Commentary. (New York: Arno, tional behaviors that were common in 1976), p. 110-112. pre-Famine Ireland. As the Irish immigrants and their American-born offspring adjusted to life in 13. Irish American, January 6, 1850, p. 2. the city and to the requirements necessary for 14. New York Times, September 27, 1853, p. 6. success in an industrial setting, their traditional behaviors changed. They dropped or modified 15. Robert Ernst, p. 105. those behaviors, including recreational rioting, 16. A. McD. Suarez (Ed.), The Journal of Andrew Leary that were incompatible with life in an industrial O'Brien. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, society. However, some traces of the tradition 1946), p. 30. would continue when confronting modern opponents in the industrial world of the United States. 17. Samuel Clark and Edward J. Donnelly, p. 32. 18. A. McD. Suarez, p. 30. Notes 19. W. H. Shaw, History of Essex and Hudson Counties. (Philadelphia: Everts and Peck, 1884), p. 199. 1. Robert Ernst, Immigrant Life in New York City, 20. New York Times, February 16, 1857, p. 1, and February 1825-1863 (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 17, 1857, p. 5. 1994), p. 73-74. 21. New York Times, August 18, 1857, p. 5. 2. P. Way, 'Evil Humors and Ardent Spirits: The Rough Culture of Canal Construction Laborers." Journal of22. New York Times, September 16, 1857, p. 5. American History, Vol. 79, No. 4 (1993), p. 1397-1424. 23. New York Times, October 10, 1857, p. 5. 3. Samuel Clark and James S. Donnelly, Tr., Irish Peasant 24. New York Times, November 12, p. 1. Violence and Political Unrest: 1780-1914. (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1986), p. 25-26. 25. New York Times, September 17, 1859, p. 8, and September 19, 1859, p. 4. 4. Robert Ernst, p. 104-105. 26. New York Times, September 19, 1859, p. 4. 5. Frederick Marryat, A Diary in America with Remarks on Its Institutions. (New York: Knopf, 1962), p. 393. 27. In comparison to skilled construction workers, these workers were poorly paid. A Bergen Hill Tunnel worker 6. Kevin Kenny, Making Sense of the Molly Maguires. (New earning $1 a day would have at best a weekly wage of York: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 1-12. $6. The weekly wages of skilled construction workers 7. Charles Tilly, *Collective Violence in European in June 1854 were: bricklayer $14 to $15, mason $10, Perspective." In H. D. Graham & T. R. Gurr (Eds.),carpenter $15, plumber $15, and painter $15. New Violence in America: Historical and Comparative York Times, June 20, 1854, p. 4. Perspectives. New York: Bantam, 1969). 28. New York Times, September 19, 1859, p. 4. 8. M. Feldberg, The Turbulent Era: Riot and Disorder in 29. New York Times, September 21, 1859, p. 1. Jacksonian America. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), p. 76-78. Vol.14, 2000