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
Some 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
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.