The Yellow Kid on the Paper Stage
Introduction Origins of the Kid Class Warfare on the Urban Stage Race and Ethnicity Selling the Kid The Death of the Kid
"Modest, But Irish."
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Exploiting Race and Ethnicity


Writing in 1926, Thomas Beer identifies reasons why many were prejudiced against the Irish. The American Protective Association feared that the Irish were making America a Papal state: priests were allowed to ride trains free in California and Irish aldermen had attempted to fund parochial schools with funds from the city treasury.1 "But while the whole parasitic class [the rich], dependent on herds for place in office or income, wooed the Irishman, native mechanics and clerks began to resent him; he underbid them at all turns; he would work for less and live in worse quarters," Beer wrote. By 1894 three anti-Catholic or anti-Irish orders, such as the United Order of American Mechanics, had formed: "The Irish were at one established as tremendously funny, gay and charming people and concurrently were snubbed."2 But in the late 1890s, Beer claimed, "orders" were given in newspapers in New York, Cleveland, and Chicago that no derisive statements about Catholics be printed without approval. 3

"A Merry X-Mas in McFadden's FlatsSome evidence suggests that the Irish had in fact made great inroads in New York City, which in 1888 elected its first Irish immigrant mayor, William R. Grace, who enjoyed broad upper-class backing.4 Minstrel performers eventually eased off their sharply drawn caricatures of the Irish, perhaps because many were Irish themselves; as Toll notes, they rejoiced when John L. Sullivan won the heavyweight boxing championship and protested discrimination: "'No Irish Need Apply,' minstrels complained, was what honest Irishmen heard when they looked for work. But when America wanted soldiers, it 'never said no Irish need apply.'"5

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1 Beer, Thomas. The Mauve Decade: American Life at the End of the Nineteenth Century . New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926. 126.

2 Beer 152.

3 Beer 146.

4 Beckert 267.

5 Toll 179.