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EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION when the editors of Éire-Ireland invited me to edit a special issue on “Irish America,” I sensed an opportunity to bring together the very best recent scholarship in the field. This opportunity seemed especially timely in light of the growing importance of diasporic concerns to Irish Studies. Casting a wide net, I issued a call for papers in Spring 2000, which produced almost sixty responses. In the end seventeen articles were accepted, along with some poems, a pedagogical report, and a selection of letters—enough for two issues rather than one. These twenty submissions ranged broadly across the disciplines but fell neatly into two chronological categories: the period up to roughly 1900, which is the subject of this first issue, and the relatively neglected century thereafter, which will be examined in equal depth in a forthcoming issue. The unifying theme of “Irish America” has been broadly conceived to include cultural and political interactions between Ireland and the United States as well as the history, literature, and culture of Irish immigrants and Americans of Irish descent. In keeping with the interdisciplinary tradition of Éire-Ireland, the essays in this special double issue represent a broad range of methodological approaches. The ten articles presented here include seven by historians, two by literary critics, and one by a specialist in dance and performance. The twentieth-century issue will feature two essays by historians, and one each by a historical geographer, a film critic, a sociologist, a social psychologist , and a pair of educators, in addition to some poems and an original selection of letters by an eminent Irish-American novelist. The relative balance between history and the other disciplines is of particular interest. The submissions I received clearly suggest that a multidisciplinary approach grows progressively more difficult the further one goes back in time; it is more practicable to apply a range of methodologies to the twentieth century than to the eighteenth or nineteenth. Given the corresponding contraction of the evidence, in both range and quantity, this pattern is not perhaps too surprising. Nonetheless, it emerged with such clarity that it seemed worthy of some commentary here. Of course, the three essays in this first issue that were not written by academically trained EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION 5 historians are impressively historical, just as those that were written by historians draw from several related disciplines, including economics, political science, sociology, and gender studies. It is in the range of methodologies employed by the individual essays, rather than the overall disciplinary balance between them, that the true test of eclecticism lies. The essays presented here pass this multidisciplinary test with flying colors, demonstrating that Irish-American Studies is every bit as dynamic these days as its well-established older cousin, Irish Studies. The essays in this issue fall into five broad and sometimes overlapping categories: the eighteenth-century migration, political culture in the antebellum era, racial identities, the famine era, and labor and women’s history . While the story of the great Protestant migrations from Ireland to the American colonies has been told in its own right, it has yet to be properly integrated into the wider history of Ireland and Irish America. It is therefore a pleasure to begin this issue with Maurice Bric’s essay on the economy of Irish transatlantic emigration from 1783 to 1800. Bric not only uncovers the mercantile networks at the heart of early transatlantic emigration, but he does so for the largely neglected generation after the interruption of the American Revolution. To write the history of Irish America in, say, 1800, would be to write the history of a largely Protestant culture located in Pennsylvania and the southern backcountry. By the 1830s, however, Catholics exceeded Protestants in a new mass migration from Ireland that would bring some six million Irish men, women, and children to North America over the next century. Tyler Anbinder examines the early impact of this Irish influx on one aspect of American life, politics, in the antebellum era. The abolition of property qualifications for the franchise in the Northeast coincided with the beginnings of mass Catholic Irish immigration. The Irish therefore became potential power brokers in cities like New York...


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