Time and time again, it has been noted that there is an immigration problem in the United States. Whether it be through legal or illegal means, there is always a problem. Samuel F. B. Morse believed that the Irish Catholic immigrants were part of a big conspiracy with the Roman Catholics, to take over the United States. They were nothing but danger to native Americans. It is a belief that many Americans shared during 1835, but held no real base of truth.
The Irish Catholic immigrants that were coming into the United States during 1835, were escaping the mess that the British had started in Ireland. There were no jobs, opportunities, or hope of a better future. People were sleeping on dirt and had to live off of potatoes alone. It was the eve of the Potato Famine, and there was rebellion in the air which turned Ireland deadly. The Irish were demanding that the Act of Union be repealed. Daniel O’Connell led the rebellion and mass rallies filed under the Repeal Movement. This is a classic example of a refugee crisis. How many refugees was America willing to take? How many refugees would America allow before turning them away, forcing them back to unlivable conditions?
During this time, mostly men were immigrating to America to find jobs that were usually back breaking such as building canals, roads and railways. They worked long hours, and had to prove to Americans that they were hard working. Since the Irish were cheap labor, many American contractors placed advertisements in newspapers across Ireland before construction projects in order to secure enough labor. An example of such targeting was the Erie Canal project built by Irishmen who worked from dawn till dusk for a dollar a day. They dug their way by hand from west o upstate New York, which was still mostly wilderness.
The canal was 363 miles long, and became the main east to west commerce route which spurred America’s early economics growth. were in part due to his childhood in New England. He grew up in a Puritan settlement, and his father issued warnings of the Bavarian Illuminati. His father was Jedediah Morse, who was a Calvinist preacher. He was very vocal about his Puritan inspired belief that America would be the largest empire that ever existed. Morse used the pen name “Brutus” due to its reference to the Roman patriot who murdered Julius Caesar.
His publication of Foreign Conspiracy in the New York Observer during 1834 occurred weeks after an anti-Catholic incident in Morse’s birthplace of Charlestown, Massachusetts. It was the burning of the Ursuline convent in August 1834. The Brutus letters, came as a response to Frederick Schlegel’s lectures in Vienna in 1828. The lectures warned of the alliance of monarchy Morse’s antipathy towards the Catholics of Ireland and Catholicism. Morse believed that Austria and other “backward” countries had joined with the Catholic church by the Leopold Association in order to attack America.
Their plan was to send large numbers of immigrants to essentially take over America. “Who, and what is Austria, the government that is so benevolently concerned for our religious welfare ? Austria is one of that Holy Alliance of despotic governments, one of the “union of Christian princes,” leagued against the liberties of the people of Europe. (Page 43, Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States)” Morse was so concerned with the other countries plotting against America, that he failed to realize that most of the immigrants coming were because of unlivable onditions in their own countries.
He fails to realize that he himself is an immigrant because not too long ago, America was a colony of the British. The British sent over immigrants to colonize America, so there is no natives except the Native Americans that were there before. Morse also encouraged Protestants to join together and fight against the Catholic schools. He is promoting hatred to people that only came to America for a better life. His beliefs were a part of the nativist movement that was occurring in the United States.
The massive numbers of immigrants, most from Ireland sparked this “native orn” vs. “foreign” view in the United States. The nativists wanted to protect the interests of the “native-born” Americans against foreigners. During this time, there was slavery in the South and westward expansion under the belief of Manifest Destiny. America wanted them to expand towards the Pacific Ocean. America was trying to disband the immigrants that were coming, and try to assimilate them. The Irish were the stubborn immigrants who refused to assimilate, because they tended to stick together.
The Irish Catholics in an especial manner clan together, keep hemselves distinct from the American family, exercise the political privileges granted to them by our hospitality, not as Americans, but as Irishmen, keep alive their foreign feelings, their foreign associations, habits, and manners. Is this mixture and these doings favorable or unfavorable to American character, and national independence? and is this a religious or a political question? (Page 24)” The Irish did not assimilate. They kept to their beliefs and way of life. They were grateful to be in America since anything was better than what Ireland had to offer.
Since, Ireland was still under British control, there was little to no room to express themselves. They were proud people, who only wanted a better life for their family. Morse only believed that they were coming to mooch off Americans, and takeover for the Catholic church. America was the land of opportunity, and people were willing to risk their lives in order to come. There is no humanity when it comes to Samuel Morse. America was just coming out of the war, but there has always been immigration. Immigration is the backbone of America, and there has always been a place for them regardless of their eligion.
Freedom of religion has always been a priority to Americans since the Mayflower landed in Plymouth. Catholic Irish were never a real threat to Americans. They were treated as animals, just because they refused to assimilate to the culture. This is what brings diversity to a country. There might be some barriers such as creating new churches, but that is the beauty of having different ethnicities in one country. There will always be a group of immigrants that are used as scapegoats. They are the answer to all problems in America ranging from the lack of jobs to the fall of an economy.
What is this but saying that a republican government is unfavorable in its nature to the restrictions we deem necessary to the extension of the Catholic religion ; when the time shall come that the present government shall be subverted, which we are looking- forward to, or hope for, we can then hinder this traffic? . It contains the same sentiment, so illustrative of the natural abhorrence of Catholics to the exercise of private judgment, that I cannot forbear quoting it. ” We seriously advise Catholic parents to be very cautious in the choice of school-books for their children.
There is more danger to be apprehended in this quarter than could be conceived. (Page 83)” Morse is advising that Catholics should exercise private judgement, but then why is he using Puritan thoughts to rule over his thinking. Morse himself went to England, for an education at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. He remained in England until 1815, as he made his name in painting. Morse immigrated to another country, in order to launch himself into the art scene. He took away fame from England native painters. Morse’s view on Catholic Irish immigrants is influenced heavily on his childhood.
He has been taught that the Catholics are evil, and that America will suffer at the hand of them. He was against immigration, even though he went to England to study. The Irish came because they were sought after and the living conditions in Ireland were unbearable. American businessmen, merchants and boat owners are to blame for the massive numbers that came in. They advertised for workers, and that America was the land of opportunities. Morse should have gone after the evils of capitalism, and colonization rather than blame Irish immigrants who had no fault in their situation.