Ireland and the American Revolution

There is no coincidence in the date that I sat down to write this article.  Monday March 17th 2014 – St Patrick’s Day.  Two years ago, I was in the middle of New York City to witness first-hand my first St Patrick’s Day in the United States.  Perhaps it was my rural upbringing that made the city seem like such an alien place at the best of times; or perhaps it was my reluctance to believe that the presence of a t-shirt and a vague link to Irish identity is any grounds for romantic interaction, but I could just not get into the spirit of things.  Being Scottish, it was not as if cultural celebrations of the “old world” in the United States are unusual or surprising to me.  New York also has its Tartan Day and it is well-known how dependent Scotland (and Ireland) is on tourism from North America.  But I often find St Patrick’s Day quite strange despite Ireland’s long-standing links with America.

Key to the links between Ireland and America are two things: the large numbers of Irish immigrants who found refuge in America, both before and after the American Revolution, and the similar quest for political independence from Great Britain on the part of Americans and Irish alike.  The thirteen colonies which became the United States achieved this in 1783 while the southern counties of Ireland did not become a fully independent republic until 1949.  But the similarities between the two nations were not lost on a host of commentators in the intervening years.  John Mitchel, a nineteenth-century Irish nationalist, commented in 1845 during the Anglo-American dispute over Oregon, that “If there is to be a war between England and the United States, tis impossible for us to pretend sympathy with the former.  We shall have allies, not enemies, on the banks of the Columbia.”  Similarly, Patrick Ford, the editor of the popular New York-based newspaper The Irish World wrote on the centenary of the Revolution that “The Cause of America in 1776 is the cause of Ireland in 1876.”  The Friends of Irish Freedom, formed in New York in 1916, claimed 275,000 members at its peak.  New York-born Éamon de Valera, a major figure during the Irish War of Independence and the founder of Fianna Fáil, made much of America’s history of colonial resistance as he toured the country in 1919.  De Valera spoke to crowds of over 60,000 people in Madison Square Garden and Fenway Park and asked representatives of the Chippewa nation in Wisconsin “to help us win our struggle for freedom.”  As late as the 1980s, there was an important (if overemphasized) core of Irish-Americans who supported IRA activities in Northern Ireland.  Irish-Americans and the Clinton administration played a crucial role in the 1990s in encouraging both Loyalists and Republicans to sit down to the talks that have transformed Northern Ireland in the past two decades.[1]

And yet, much as modern St Patrick’s Day often has little to do with Irish heritage, the claim that American and Irish resistance to British colonialism sprung from the same source can be complicated.  The links between Ireland and the American Revolution were much more complex.  In addition, as the following will show, the American Revolution had a far greater impact on Ireland than Ireland had on the American Revolution.

1778 map of Ireland. Source: raremaps.com
1778 map of Ireland. Source: raremaps.com

That the Irish should have been involved in the Revolution should not come as a surprise.  As England’s “first colony,” Ireland was intimately bound up in the politics of the British Empire.  While Ireland had its own parliament, the control exerted by that parliament over Irish affairs was limited by Poynings’ Law of 1494 (which prevented the parliament in Dublin from initiating legislation) and the Irish Declaratory Act of 1720 (which gave the Westminster parliament the right to legislate for Ireland and was the model of the American act of 1766).  Like the American colonies, Ireland was also subject to stunted economic growth as a result of the Navigation Acts.

But resistance to Britain in Ireland was complicated by factors not present in the American colonies.  British control was exercised through a group of Anglo-Irish elites.  Adherents of the Anglican Church of Ireland, the Anglo-Irish made up around ten per cent of the population but controlled over ninety per cent of Ireland’s land.  Their “ascendency” in Ireland since the seventeenth century was built on the exclusion of both Catholics and dissenting Protestants from power.  This tripartite division of Irish society made unified resistance highly problematic.  The Anglo-Irish relied on British force to keep them in power but Catholics and the dissenters were more fearful of the Anglo-Irish than they were of metropolitan Britain.  Groups like the Catholic Committee, formed in 1756, looked to declare their loyalty to London as a way of challenging the anti-Catholic penal laws.  Westminster began to reciprocate, attempting Catholic relief measures in the early 1760s, 1779, and 1791, but found it difficult to proceed without alienating Anglicans and dissenters alike.[2]

Nor were Irish “Patriots” quite as radical as their colonial brethren.  There had long been frustration with the economic restrictions placed upon Ireland but, unlike in 1760s and 1770s America, these did not always morph into demands for political independence.  Opposition “Patriots” within the Irish parliament challenged economic dependence and supported the emergence of non-importation and “Buy Irish” societies, but they stopped short of demanding an independent republic.  Irish parliamentarians were more interested in restoring lost legislative rights than being granted new ones.  In a sense, comparing the Irish and American examples provides some proof of the radicalism of the American Revolution.  Irish “Patriots” were willing to challenge British rule but they could only go so far because they were utterly unwilling to share power with the Catholic majority.  Their struggle was about their own political rights, not the rights of Irish people in general.  The American revolutionaries, while quite capable of excluding most of the population from political influence (women, Native Americans, and African-Americans), were more determined to risk the social order in the pursuit of ostensibly universal natural rights.  One Irish MP described the difference between Ireland and America in the following terms: “We are in watercolor what they are in fresco.”[3]

So what then of the claim that the American Revolution can be viewed as an Irish revolution in America?  The case has been made that the flood of Irish immigrants into America in the years before the Revolution transformed the character of the conflict and forced other colonists to take more radical positions.  The Irish, it is said, “energiz[ed] resistance to the British Empire.”[4]  It is true that some 55,000 Protestant Irish arrived in America between 1763 and 1775.  Later known as Scots-Irish – a nomenclature that only emerged after the Revolution to distinguish them from poorer post-Revolution Catholic immigrants – these Presbyterians were the descendants of Scottish settlers who had come to Ireland in the seventeenth century to transplant the indigenous Gaelic inhabitants of Ulster.  Their support for the American Revolution is widely acknowledged and many British leaders were convinced that they were fighting “little more than an uprising of rabble-rousing Presbyterians.”  But their motives for emigrating were complex.  Most left Ireland during periodic depressions in the linen trade and acts of parliament permitting duty-free imports of Irish linen into Britain from 1696 and the colonies from 1705 meant that Ulster Scots did not necessarily associate economic hardship with “British oppression” explicitly.[5]  Rather than being inherently opposed to Britain, it is far more likely that their dissenting traditions and their experiences as frontier settlers made them broadly suspicious of central authority.  Their unwillingness to accept the political authority of urban elites was just as much a problem for American revolutionaries as it was for the British.

Nor is it quite clear that the presence of large numbers of Irishmen in the Patriot armies offers sufficient proof of Irish support for the Revolution.  Nearly half of those who fought in the Continental army or state militias raised in Pennsylvania during the war were of Irish birth or decent.  The presence of Irishmen in the army is not surprising, however, when we consider that newly-arrived immigrants made up a large proportion of recruits.  Lists of rebel deserters kept by Sir Henry Clinton suggest that American-born men were a minority in an army that contained many Germans and English as well as Irish.  The Irish were also considered to be among those most likely to change sides.  Clinton was well aware that many Irishmen had fled to the colonies to avoid prosecution for anti-landlord riots in Ireland.  Nevertheless, he was equally sure that these immigrants had not been assimilated into the colonial population and that it would be possible to “work upon these latent Seeds of national attachment” and recruit “Irish” regiments into the Loyalist forces.[6]  Irish soldiers were also a significant proportion of the regular British army.  In the French & Indian War, Irishmen made up almost one third of the British army in North America.  This only increased in the revolutionary period as Britain changed the long-standing rules against enlisting non-Protestants to allow the recruitment of Catholics.[7]

The point here is not that Irish people did not support the revolutionaries; many clearly did.  Rather, it is to suggest that being Irish did not imply the presence of revolutionary ideals or an inveterate hatred of Britain.  Irish resistance to the British Empire was not transplanted to America – American resistance to Britain was transplanted to Ireland.  If we are to really appreciate the importance of the American Revolution, we must remember the effects it had across Europe and the wider world.  This began with the pressures placed on Ireland as a result of the war.  As noted above, Britain’s need to recruit more and more soldiers led to Catholic relief legislation which alienated the Protestant Ascendency.  Parliamentary leaders who had previously managed the Dublin parliament for the government in London were also alienated by efforts to centralise parliamentary authority.  The economic disruptions of the war caused important Irish parliamentarians such as Henry Flood and Henry Grattan (once described as the “Irish Demosthenes”) to question the relationship with Britain.

Patriots such as Flood and Grattan used Britain’s problems in America to wring concessions out of Westminster.  Trade restrictions between Ireland and Britain ended in 1780 and the Irish parliament was made independent of Westminster with the repeal of the Declaratory Act and the Constitution of 1782.  These major victories for the Irish Patriots inspired further efforts to disentangle Ireland from British authority during the 1780s.[8]

Meanwhile, a new generation of Irishmen were emerging.  Inspired by the efforts of the American and French revolutionaries, this new generation was unwilling to accept the leadership of moderate politicians in the Dublin parliament and instead pressed for a democratic republic in Ireland.  Known as the “United Irishmen,” they demanded universal male suffrage, annual parliaments, and the end of all religious restrictions.  They found adherents not only among the Catholic population but also among idealistic Protestants, particularly in Dublin and Belfast.  The effects of the American Revolution – the spread of revolutionary ideals and the economic disruptions of the war – also led to greater agrarian violence.  This violence, in turn, saw the emergence of Protestant and Catholic secret societies which pledged to defend themselves against sectarian violence.  Groups such as the Whiteboys and Oakboys fought increasingly violent pitched battles, the most famous of which was the “Battle of the Diamond,” fought in 1795 between the Protestant Peep O’Day Boys and the Catholic Defenders, which left 30 dead.[9]

kissmewhigThese tensions led to open rebellion against Britain in 1798.  The 1798 rebellion saw the United Irishmen and their Defender allies brutally crushed by the British army and a number of loyalist Irish organisations, most notably the newly-formed Orange Order.  The Orange Order emerged from the same population of Ulster Scots who had fought so hard against Britain in the colonies.  In another interesting link, it was Charles Cornwallis, the defeated commander of the British army at Yorktown in 1781, who led crown forces in Ireland in 1798 and presided over a far more brutal policy of counter-insurgency than he employed in America.  The failure of the rebellion led to the end of the Irish parliament and the incorporation of Ireland into a full Union with Britain in 1801.  It was only in the aftermath of these events that the idea of an affinity between the United States and Ireland became a more realistic proposition.  This affinity was increased in the nineteenth century as hundreds of thousands of Catholics fled to America to escape poverty, famine, and oppression in Ireland.

So the story of Ireland and the American Revolution is more complex than we might first assume.  And I can finally put my finger on what I find so strange about St Patrick’s Day.  The sea of monotone green t-shirts and the uniform greenness of the Chicago River is a strange way to celebrate the complexities and entangled histories of Ireland.  Then again, it is hard to get those complexities on a t-shirt.  “Kiss me, I’m a Whig” anyone?

 



[1] The Nation (6 Dec. 1845); The Irish World (22 Jan. 1876); The Irish World (25 Oct. 1919); Michael Doorley, Irish-American Diaspora Nationalism: The Friends of Irish Freedom, 1916-1935 (Dublin: Four Courts, 2005), 188; Dave Hannigan, De Valera in America: The Rebel President and the Making of Irish Independence (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). My sincere thanks go to Dr Niall Whelehan for his recommendations on sources for Irish-American links in the nineteenth century.

[2] For a recent and useful study of eighteenth-century Ireland, see S.J. Connelly, Divided Kingdom: Ireland, 1630-1800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

[3] Sarah Foster, “Buying Irish: Consumer Nationalism in 18th Century Dublin,” History Today 47, 6 (Jun. 1997), 15-22; Harry T. Dickinson, “Why did the American Revolution not spread to Ireland?” Valahian Journal of Historical Studies, 18-19 (2012-2013), 155-80.

[4] T.H. Breen, “An Irish Revolution in Eighteenth-Century America,” Field Day Review, 2 (2006), 275-85.

[5] James Leyburn, The Scotch-Irish: A Social History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1962), 305; for the most effective examination of the Scots-Irish, see Patrick Griffin, The People with No Name: Ireland’s Ulster Scots and America’s Scots Irish, and the Creation of a British Atlantic World, 1689-1764 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).

[6] Irish Immigrants in the Land of Canaan: Letters and Memoirs from Colonial and Revolutionary America, 1675-1815, eds. Kerby A. Miller, Arnold Schrier, Bruce D. Boling and David N. Doyle (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002); Charles Patrick Neimeyer, America Goes to War: a Social History of the Continental Army (New York: New York University Press, 1996), 27-43; William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Henry Clinton papers, vol. 86, f. 5, Monthly return of deserters, 21 Feb. 1780; vol. 44, f. 7, Clinton to Germain, 23 Oct. 1778.

[7] Stephen Brumwell, Redcoats: The British Soldier and War in the Americas, 1755-1763 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 318; R.K. Donovan, “The Military Origins of the Roman Catholic Relief Programme of 1778,” Historical Journal 28, 1 (1985), 79-102.

[8] Vincent Morely, Irish Opinion and the American Revolution, 1760-1783 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

[9] David W. Miller, “Politicisation in Revolutionary Ireland: The Case of the Armagh Troubles,” Irish Economic and Social History 23, 1 (1996), 100-123.

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94 Comments

  • This very thoughtful contribution reminds me of the story of the McGuire brothers at Saratoga. One McGuire brother had joined the British 9th Regiment of Foot and was with Burgoyne at Saratoga. His brother James had found a separate route out of poverty by emigrating to America. By 1777 he was part of Morgan’s corps of riflemen in the Northern Army. During the ceasefire that preceded Burgoyne’s capitulation at Saratoga the men of the two armies began conversing across Fish Kill. The two Irish brothers suddenly recognized each other and plunged into the stream to have a cold wet reunion. All the other soldiers were astonished by it all, cheering on the brothers from both sides of the stream.

    • This is a very well written article. It is very interesting to see the differences between this piece and Neimeyer. While both authors discuss the push factors and complexities of emigration from Ireland, they differ greatly when assessing the claim that the American Revolution was an Irish Revolution. While Neimeyer does a good job of giving explanation for his belief in this concept, I believe that Dziennek is correct that while there was Irish influence, it was still an American revolution. He makes a very good point that the ideals that started the revolution were transplanted from America to Ireland and not vice versa. I wholeheartedly agree with this stance.

  • Very good article. Ireland was certianly on the mind of some Americans during the war.
    On February 29, 1780 Chancellor Robert Livingston wrote to his father-in-law John Stevens; “You will find that America has effectualy fought the battles of Ireland, so that we shall have the honour of establishing the freedom of other nations while we are throwing off out own yoke.”

  • Matthew, this is an excellent article. However, although you’ve noted that the term ‘Scots-Irish’ emerged later than the American Revolution as a reaction to Irish Catholic immigration, you’ve completely accepted the concept that the so-called ‘Scots-Irish’ who fought on the American side in the American Revolution were Presbyterians of Scottish descent from Ulster. Instead, it is perhaps just as likely that the claim is an old 19th century ‘No-Nothing’ fable repeated often enough to give it a false veneer of accuracy. Yes, the Penal Laws outlawed ‘Papacy’ here in the 13 Colonies just as surely and perhaps even more harshly than in Ireland. Therefore, yes, officially, no such individual as an Irish Catholic existed here unless prosecuted and punished with nose slittings, ear loppings, brandings, and banishment in winter to a certain death by exposure, starvation, or (assumed) Indian attack. Therefore, yes, the Irish who fought for American independence were, officially, 100% Protestant. But almost exclusively, or even largely, Irish of Scottish descent, the so-called ‘Scots-Irish’? There’s no reason to be so sure. A century ago, Michael J. O’Brien actually and systematically examined the muster rolls and found thousands of purely Irish surnames, i.e., those whose ancestors never set foot in Scotland, those who (according to the ‘No-Nothings’) didn’t even exist in America at the time. And one wonders whether Dennis McCarthy, George Washington’s famous uncle-in-law, should be called Scots-Irish (as the ‘No-Nothings claimed) or a Corkman. Some day, I hope to see someone take on the task of re-visiting O’Brien’s ground-breaking research. Best, – Jerry

    • “Yes, the Penal Laws outlawed ‘Papacy’ here in the 13 Colonies just as surely and perhaps even more harshly than in Ireland”.

      This statement ignores the fact that religious laws in the Colonies were “Colony Specific”. There were several colonies where Catholics could live and practice their religion.

      Rhode Island
      Remember that one of the premises in the founding of Rhode Island was the freedom to choose one’s own religion.

      “That our royall will and pleasure is, that noe person within the sayd colonye, at any tyme hereafter, shall bee any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinione in matters of religion, and doe not actually disturb the civill peace of our sayd colony; but that all and everye person and persons may, from tyme to tyme, and at all tymes hereafter, freelye and fullye have and enjoye his and theire owne judgments and consciences, in matters of religious concernments…
      Charter of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
      July 15, 1663

      However….In 1739 there were thirty-three churches in the colony; twelve Baptist, ten Quaker, six Congregational or Presbyterian, and five Episcopalian. It is said that in 1680 there was not one Catholic in the colony, and for a long period their number must have been small.

      Pennsylvania
      When William Penn founded Pennsylvania, which originally included New Jersey and Delaware, it was made open to persons of all religions.

      Delaware
      Delaware 1701: “BECAUSE no People can be truly happy, though under the greatest Enjoyment of Civil Liberties, if abridged of the Freedom of their Consciences, as to their Religious Profession and Worship: And Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits; and the Author as well as Object of all divine Knowledge, Faith and Worship, who only doth enlighten the Minds, and persuade and convince the Understandings of People, I do hereby grant and declare, That no Person or Persons, inhabiting in this Province or Territories, who shall confess and acknowledge Our almighty God, the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the world; and professes him or themselves obliged to live quietly under the Civil Government, shall be in any Case molested or prejudiced, in his or their Person or Estate, because of his or their consciencious Persuasion or Practice, nor be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious Worship, Place or Ministry, contrary to his or their Mind, or to do or suffer any other Act or Thing, contrary to their religious Persuasion.

      AND that all Persons who also profess to believe in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World, shall be capable (notwithstanding their other Persuasions and Practices in Point of Conscience and Religion) to serve this Government in any Capacity, both legislatively and executively…”
      Charter of Delaware
      1701

      Maryland was specifically founded for persons of the Catholic Religion. Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, one of the representatives of Maryland was a Catholic.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_in_the_Thirteen_Colonies
      This site reviews the religious persecution/tolerances toward Catholics.

      Virginia
      Eighty-one years before the coming of the English to Jamestown in 1607, a settlement was made in Virginia by Spaniards from San Domingo, under the leadership of Lucas Vasquez de Ayllón. Accompanied by the Dominican Fathers Antonio de Montesinos and Antonio de Cervantes with Brother Peter de Estrada, the expedition set sail in three vessels from Puerto de la Plata, June, 1526. The severity of the winter, the rebellion of the settlers, and the hostility of the Indians caused the abandonment of the settlement in the spring of 1527.

      In 1624 Virginia was made a crown colony. Because of the establishment of the English Church, hostility was shown to adherents of other beliefs and to Catholics in particular. Lord Baltimore attempted in vain to plant a Catholic colony in Virginia (1629–30). Stringent legislation was enacted against Catholics. In 1641 a decree declared that adherents of the pope were to be fined 1000 pounds of tobacco if they attempted to hold office. The following year all priests were given five days within which to leave the colony. In 1661 all persons were obliged to attend the Established services or pay a fine of £20. The governor issued orders to magistrates, sheriffs, constables, and people to be diligent in the apprehension and bringing to justice of all Catholic priests. The records of Norfolk County (1687) show Fathers Edmonds and Raymond arrested. In 1699 Catholics were deprived of their right of voting, and later a fine of 500 pounds of tobacco was imposed upon violators of the law. They were declared incompetent as witnesses in 1705, and in 1753 such incompetency was made to cover all cases.

    • ” Instead, it is perhaps just as likely that the claim is an old 19th century ‘No-Nothing’ fable repeated often enough to give it a false veneer of accuracy.”

      It is precisely that.

      It is a shame that a respectable publication such as this has decided to go into the business of identitarian myth-peddling by helping to spread the uniquely weird rumor that the 18th Century Protestant Irish were all ethnically Scottish. With no other ethnoreligious Protestant group — not the Huguenots, Palatines, or the Italian Waldensians — do we see casual attempts to strip the ethnic heritage away from its members. We have never seen anyone claim the Huguenots were of “Germanic stock”, never seen it claimed that a Palatine isn’t a “real German”, nor have we seen the Waldensians striving to shed their Italian heritage (and they would have just as much cause to do so as the Protestant Irish, if not more)? I wouldn’t mind it if the ethno-Scot claims had a possibility of being true, but I do mind it when I see a widespread promotion of a claim which is in a direct battle with the genealogy literature and the actual genetic evidence from the “Scotch-Irish” DNA projects (Barry McCain is currently running the largest, if you want to google the results).

      The “Scotch” modifier was a nativist adjective that was applied to any and all Protestant Irish who were naturally-born Americans, and not just “ethnic Scots” as is currently (and erroneously) believed. This started in the middle part of the 19th Century and became particularly vogue by the turn of the 20th. A close look at the “Scotch-Irish” writings of this time will demonstrate that the term was used indiscriminately on every Mc, Mac, Fitz, Kirk, Kil, and even O’ who had long standings in this country and were of the Protestant persuasion. There is an especially humorous section in one of the “Proceedings and Addresses of the Scotch-Irish Congress”, a Virginian edition, in which the author goes on to talk about one of the walls of the Lee Memorial Chapel, where the names of the “Scotch-Irish” families who settled in Virginia during the period prior to the American Revolution can be found: the names are a mix of native Irish surnames as well as Scottish names that have origins from both the Lowlands and Highlands, and the author isn’t at all shy about public displays of reverence. He goes on to call them the “defining racial element” that “builded this great republic.”

      And what about the Know-Nothing Party?? The Know-Nothings are known as having been militantly anti-Irish, but few know that the organization started from the merging of many different local Protestant groups which included great numbers of naturally-born Protestant Irish. One such example was the Protestant Benevolent Association of New York, which was organized by an Irish American named William Shannon. Shannon would also get described with the “Scotch” modifier, despite having a last name than which few other last names are more Irish (“MacShannon” is the Scottish variant). Whence the PBA got spun a variety of different copycat groups, such as the Junior American Protestant Association, and the United American Mechanics, later changed to Loyal Knights of America, with the latter having been comprised entirely of Protestant Irish.

  • A recent post on the comments board inspired me to re-read Matthew P. Dziennik’s article on the Revolution’s Irish connections. Dziennik provided an excellent overview of a complex and multi-faceted relationship which endures to this day. As he explains, the Irish population in the British colonies was comprised primarily of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. (The insistence on Scots-Irish is mostly a twentieth century development.) While these people were generally called Irish in the eighteenth century, the term Scotch-Irish was not unknown, and was not an invention of the Know-Northings in the 1850s. The heavily Ulster Presbyterian nature of eighteenth century Irish America can readily be determined by study of passenger lists, shipping news and ports of departure, not to mention the way they were described by other colonists, and the churches they established. While the presence of Irish colonists descended from the Gaelic and Gaelicized Norman population has sometimes been underestimated, it’s often unclear how these people saw themselves religiously and culturally. In the 1790 census, the Catholic population from all ethnic groups was one per cent.
    Dziennik overlooks the religious element in the eruption of Scotch-Irish emigration to North America. In addition to the economic woes of the early eighteenth century, the Test Act passed under Queen Anne forbade dissenters from holding office, which contributed to rising resentment and exodus.
    Another element in the Revolutionary period’s Ireland-America connection was the stripping of British troops from garrison/police duty in Ireland for service in America. The void was filled by the Irish Volunteers, overwhelmingly Protestant, but supportive of the Ascendancy “Patriots” who demanded effective legislative independence from Britain. This, in turn, led to a relaxation of the Penal laws which stifled Irish Catholic land ownership, and economic and political liberty. Dziennik might have devoted some space to Ireland’s role in provisioning the British Army in America. The British never came close to supplying their needs from American sources, and depended on the annual arrival of the “Cork Fleet” for their needs. The provisioning trade was one of the few lucrative enterprises in which Irish Catholics played a significant role, and aided in the emergence of a semi-affluent Catholic minority, which gingerly attempted to secure greater freedoms for their co-religionists.
    Of course, the limited home rule gained by the “patriots” in 1782 was ended by the 1801 Act of Union through which the London administration bribed the Irish Parliament to vote itself out of existence. But before that happened, militant Irish republicanism had been introduced in the form of the United Irishmen whose inspiration was primarily the French Revolution.
    Lastly, Mr. Dziennik writes of his puzzlement about the enthusiastic, if not boisterous, American St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. What is now effectively an urban holiday, began as a means by which the Irish, originally Protestant and then overwhelmingly Catholic, staked their claim to a place in the American polity. It wasn’t easy and that’s the cause for the celebration.

  • Dziennik covers this problem in much the same way that Neimeyer did in his book “America Goes To War.” They both address the immigration rates, the high rates of desertion among Irish recruits and admit that the reasons the Irish joined the continental ranks were varied and cannot be chalked up to a simple dislike for the British or a cultural affinity for fighting. The difference is their thesis, where Neimeyer simply concludes that they shared a common cause in that they were British controlled, Dziennik supposes that the Americans awakened a revolutionary spirit in the Irish that opened up the Irish to resistance on their home front instead of the Irish simply taking it out on the British by fighting for the Americans.

  • I enjoyed this article’s take on Irish involvement in the American Revolution. I had not considered the idea that Irish revolutionary sentiment really evolved out of the American Revolution rather than having already existed during their time serving in the American army. Neimeyer focuses on the importance and abundance of Irish soldiers in the American army during war, and both this article and Neimeyer address some of the reasons the Irish came to America to enlist: the failure of the linen industry and eviction from landlords. However, Neimeyer seems to support the idea that the Irish did indeed have anti-British sentiment before and during the war because the Americans appealed to the Irish by presenting their grievances against the British in a relatable manner. Neimeyer does admit that the Irish soldiers were prone to deserting and that their main reasons for volunteering in the army involved promises of material gain (land and money) that they couldn’t get back in Ireland. This article also points out the tendency of Irish soldiers to not commit to one side or the other and argues that these Protestant Irish had a broader suspicion of central authority rather than a targeted opposition to Britain, which is supported by the Irish presence in both armies. Neimeyer doesn’t really discuss how the American Revolution influenced Irish revolutionary movements, and that is what I found most interesting about this article.

  • I think the similarities and differences concerning religion are interesting. As Neimeyer points out, many Britons believed the American Revolution to be a war brought on by “rabble-rousing Presbyterians.” Dzniennik, on the other hand, notes that Irish opposition to British rule (in Ireland) was primarily due to the “exclusion of Catholics and dissenting Protestants from positions of power.” This, in my opinion, underlines one of Dzniennik’s points that the Irish struggle was not for political rights of “the Irish” as a whole, but rather individual Irishmen. With this in mind, I would characterize the American revolutionary spirit revolving around sovereignty, and Irish revolutionary spirit revolving around power–both related, but different in their own ways.

  • This article covers some of the same topics as are discussed in Neimeyer’s America Goes to War. Though many of the same topics are covered the authors choose to emphasize different themes. Neimeyer would lean towards more of an economic than patriotic argument as to why the Irish fought with the Americans against the British. This article also does a better job of explaining the differences of the Protestant and Catholic Irish immigrants, instead of having a homogeneous definition of the Irish. Dziennik also differs from Niemeyer in that he explains the motivations of the Protestant Irish as being skeptical of central authority in general and not the British in particular.

  • Dziennik makes a great case about why the Irish fought in the American Revolution. However, he leaves out a key element that Niemeyer touches on in his book “America goes to war”. He fails to mention the importance of the most patriotic subgroup, the Scotch-Irish.

  • Dziennik creates a compelling case for the impact Ireland had on the American Revolution as a whole–or rather the impact the American Revolution had on the Irish. While Dziennik argues that the American Revolution radicalized the Irish and promoted their own rise to violence over economic and political issues, this is in stark contrast to Neimeyer’s work in “America Goes to War.” Neimeyer claims the opposite thesis, stating that the influx of Irish enlistment into the Continental Army was from a pre-existing climate of radicalization in Ireland that stemmed prom political and economic discontent. While both historians start from the same event: the Irish enlistment, they attribute differing causal factors to the outcome. Dziennik states that the Irish were moved to action through the actions of rebellious colonial Americans, Neimeyer claims that the American Revolution was made successful through the radicalization of the Irish.

  • The claim that I found most interesting was when Dziennik stated: “the American Revolution had a far greater impact on Ireland than Ireland had on the American Revolution.” This brief claim is brought to life a few paragraphs down when he states that “Irish resistance to the British Empire was not transplanted to America – American resistance to Britain was transplanted to Ireland.” For example, much like the American and French revolutions, Irishmen/women were beginning to resist moderate politicians. This resistance was a result of the influence that Americans “brought over” to Irish turf. While Dziennik does an excellent job of explaining the impact America had on Ireland (and vice versa), I feel as if Niemeyer’s primary focus is to emphasize the Irish impact on America more directly. That is where I draw my differences between the two.

  • Others have already raised this point, but this article makes the claim “the American Revolution had a far greater impact on Ireland than Ireland had on the American Revolution.” This claim, when examined in conjuction with claims in Neimeyer’s book America Goes to War, presents two contrasting viewpoints of the Irish involvement in the American Revolution. The evidence is clear that thousands of Irish immigrants flocked to America during the Revolution, and thousands contributed to the fighting forces that eventually won the war. True enough, the mass exodus from Ireland would affect the home country and not just America, but to say this impact is far greater than any changes America saw is suspect.

  • Neimeyer disregards discussing how the American Revolution swayed Irish revolutionary actions in Ireland. The amount of desertion amongst Irish soldiers proves that their heart truly was not in to fighting for the losing side. The material gains promised by both, the British and American armies, was too much too give up by just being on the losing side. Plus, the impact left over from the American Revolution was then transplanted over to Ireland.

  • The similarities between both Charles Neimeyer’s book “America Goes To War” and Dziennik’s article are very apparent. Both touch on the reasons Irish citizens became involved in the American Revolution, however they suggest these reasons came from different avenues. Neimeyer stated Irish people saw the American’s fight for their natural liberties and related that fight to their own struggles, which led to their emigration from Ireland to America; he concludes this ultimately caused the Irish to join American patriots in their fight for freedom. Similarly, Dziennik says, “Inspired by the efforts of the American and French revolutionaries, this new generation was unwilling to accept the leadership of moderate politicians in the Dublin parliament and instead pressed for a democratic republic in Ireland.” In this way Dziennik says the Irish eventually became “fed up” with the direction of the political agenda their politicians and simply wanted a change. I found it interesting that each author found different reasons for Irish peoples fighting for the liberties Americans were during the revolution.

  • While Neimeyer and Dziennik make similar points in that without the Irish, the American Revolution may not have succeeded successfully, they do differ in how they say the influence of the Irish came to be. Neimeyer feels that the Irish felons and immigrants who came over before the war helped radicalize the inhabitants of the colonies more so. Neimeyer also states that Irish hatred of the British was already at the point of revolution and that many Irish came over simply to fight. On the other hand, Dziennik feels that the Irish became radicalized after they came here. Dziennik further argues that the Irish gained the urge for independence after the American Revolution.

  • Neimeyer and Dziennik both discuss the very apparent presence of the Irish in the American Revolutionary War. The two authors’ themes diverge when analyzing the reasoning behind Irishmen being so involved. Neimeyer portrays in his book “America Goes to War,” that the Irish were able to empathize with the American colonists over the economic strain the British put on them with the Tea Act in relation to their ever growing hearth tax in Ireland. This commonality gave the Irish reason to leave Ireland and seek refuge in America with the intent of joining the cause against the British. Dziennik on the other hand, paints the image of the Irish being less enthusiastic about their British hatred during the war. He states that “Irish resistance to the British Empire was not transplanted to America – American resistance to Britain was transplanted to Ireland.” Therefore, according to Dziennik, the Irish were less an impact on the American Revolution as the American Revolution was on them and their independence in the future.

  • This article seems to represent the major shift from a traditional military view of the American Revolution to a more conventional social view. By not applying a blanket opinion of all Irish interacting in the War, a far more apt view that acknowledges logical rifts amongst Irish society and the differences they entail reveals telling reasons why people truly fought in the War.

  • While Dziennik covers many of the topics in this article that Charles Neimeyer covers in the book “America Goes To War,” yet they differ in certain ways. Neimeyer believes that the main reason that the Irish assisted Americans during the revolution was because they were both in the same situation of being oppressed by British control. Dziennik points out that the Irish became involved with the American revolution due to religious reasons. While both the Americans and the Irish were being oppressed by the British, they were in different ways. The Americans were being economically oppressed and the Irish were being oppressed through religious freedom, and both countries wanted independence.

  • I tend to agree more with Dziennik about why the Irish fought in the revolution. It was not out of hate for the British that they fought for the Americans. It was for money, or opportunity. I also think Dziennik’s quote about the American Revolution changing Ireland is spot on. Once an idea of freedom is planted in a people’s mind they can’t go back.

  • Both authors stress the importance Irish soldiers played during the Revolution in both the British and American ranks. Both authors also show that a simple explanation cannot be provided for the willingness of the Irish to fight for either side. Neimeyer suggests that the promise of land and money coupled with the ability to link the American and Irish struggle against Britain explained their presence in the American army. Dziennik on the other hand suggests that the success of the American Revolution inspired resistance to Great Britain in Ireland after rather than before the war. A very significant difference between the two authors.

  • Dziennik and Neimeyer both raise similar points in regards to how the Irish and the Americans desire for independence and revolution influenced and affected each other. I found it incredibly interesting that in the article and throughout Neimeyer there is a clear picture painted of just how similar the plight of the Irish people was to the Americans. They faced similar threats with the Navigation Acts causing a stunted economy, Irish Declaratory Acts, and the failure of some of their key industries, such as linen.

    It is interesting to see where these two perspectives differ and begin to portray different reasons as to what the influence America had on the Irish exactly was. According to Neimeyer, he believes that the Irish fought in the American army and aided our cause solely because we shared a similar hatred and that many Irish just wanted a chance to “kill British.” He felt that some of the radicalization of the Americans came from the Irish when they immigrated overseas.

    On the other hand, Dziennik believes that the Irish were inspired by the Americans and not the other way around. Radicalization came from the time spent with the Americans. There wasn’t a clear urge for true independence till after the American Revolution had occurred. Dziennik even states early in this article that “Irish Patriots were willing to challenge British rule but they could only go so far.” Their desire was to regain lost political rights. It was not to demand and gain new ones that they had not been previously granted.

  • Both Diziennik and Niemeyer discuss Irish desertion, Irish immigration rates and how many of the Irish joined the military for various reasons. Diziennik and Niemeyer split over how the Irish feel about the British during the Revolution. Niemeyer argues that the Irish join the military to fight the British because they are oppressed. Diziennik suggests that the American Revolution awakened a spirit of rebellion in the Irishmen against the British. I also find it interesting that Diziennik discusses how many Scots-Irish opposed centralized authority due to their traditions and encounters on the frontier in general and came to America because of that. They weren’t so motivated by economic reasons as they were for governmental reasons.

  • Both Neimeyer and Dziennik talk about the importance of the Irish involvement in the American Revolution, but it does not come as a surprise that so many Irishmen became involved in the American Revolution given the similarities between the two (i.e. their hatred of the British Empire). What did surprise me though was Dziennik’s notion that ideas of revolution in Ireland were created by the ideas of revolution in America, as he puts it, “Irish resistance to the British Empire was not transplanted to America – American resistance to Britain was transplanted to Ireland.” Ireland had been the “first colony” of the British Empire and its people had been oppressed for so long. It’s interesting that despite the harsh economic, political, and religious oppression of the Irish, it took until 1949 to gain independence.

  • Neimeyer and Dziennik both attempt to sort out the complexities of Irish evolvement in the Revolutionary war. Their arguments share a common claim: the Irish did not participate in the war solely on the grounds of discontent with Britain. From this statement the authors attempt to explain the Irishmen’s array of reasons for joining the Continental ranks. Regardless of the rationale behind enlistment both authors claim that the presence of Irishmen in the war made a huge impact on its outcome. A notable aspect of Dziennik’s article is his claims on how America’s Revolution impacted Europe and Ireland in particular.

  • A lot of this has already been posted here, but this article as well as Charles Patrick Niemeyer’s “America Goes to War” discuss the importance of the Irish in the American Revolution due to the numbers they provided while also speaking to how recruiters sought out the Irish.

    I also feel like this article ties to our class discussion on Wednesday about why men fight and what defines a “patriot.” While somebody could view the Irish and Americans fighting together during the Revolution and state they did so due to their disdain for the British, this article also points out that the Irish were also some of the most likely to desert, meaning that their reasons for joining the American army where influenced by potential personal gains.

  • Similarities and differences exist between this article and Neimeyer’s “America Goes to War.” Both stressed the importance of Irish involvement in the Revolutionary War, but each author expresses his own differing opinion on why the Irish were such a large part of the revolution. Dziennik expressed the idea that the Irish were more interested in using the fight for American independence as a tool to combat their own oppression back home, while Neimeyer claimed that the Irish were fighting for the chance to become part of America. I believe that there exists truths in both of these claims. In my opinion, by helping America gain independence, not only can many Irish individuals improve their cause for their homeland, but they can gain valuable allies and prosper in a newly formed America.

  • Dzeinnik’s point of view was interesting to read in this article about the Irish involvement with the American Revolution. The point that he makes about “American resistance to Britain was transplanted to Ireland” is an interesting take on the situation. It may be true that what the Irish needed for revolution was that “push” from the Americans, but I feel as if they were already in a revolutionary spirit beforehand. After reading Charles Neimeyer’s chapter on the Irish involvement in the Revolutionary War in his book “America Goes to War,” one can see the tensions that the Irish were already under because of the British (i.e. religious tensions between the Church of England and Presbyterian Irish colonists). The Irish may have felt the need for a revolution due to these tensions, but they may have needed something to push them to actually do it. I wouldn’t necessarily say I agree with Dzeinnik’s statement that American resistance to Britain was transplanted into Ireland because resistance was already there, as Neimeyer states. However, the American Revolution could have been just enough to inspire the Irish to finally fight against the British.

  • Both Dziennik and Neimeyer place an emphasis on the myriad of reasons why the Irish were in the colonies and the Continental Army. Dziennik makes an interesting point that, like colonial Americans, not all Scots-Irish were radical revolutionaries. They could have been as equally cautious of an American central government as British rule.

  • It is stated in this article that the Irish were to be seen as radical but not in the same league as their American counterparts. It may be the case that the Irish truly were a radical catalyst in America because America was the perfect breeding ground for rebellion.

    Ireland and it’s close relation to England made it hard for the Irish to rebel. England would be able to send troops easily to quash any and all severe oppostion. However, in America, news of rebellion would travel slowly and give time to the Irish and the Americans. The Irish now can chip away at the British and slowly erode British power, thus loosening the noose on their native land.

    Neimeyer writes that it was the Irish who were the first to officially draft documents rebuking the British. The “Westmoreland Declaration” and “Pine Creek Declaration” are examples of documents written by Irish settlers denouncing all British ties and stating a case for independence. These documents were all drafted before the idea of a Continental Army was even established and well before the drafting of a formal Declaration of Independence.

    The push and readiness to fight by the Irish was pent up frustration. They’re have dealt with the tyrannical nature of Britain for longer than the Americans. They brought that fever to America and added gasoline to a smoldering fire. They knew that the separation from Britain could allow them to assemble and do so in and organized fashion.

  • Both Neimeyer and Dzienik suggest that a great connection can be seen between the American Revolution and Ireland–though perhaps in different ways.

    Neimeyer highlights how many Irishmen came to America not only for opportunity, but a chance to fight back against a tyrannical Britain that had mistreated them in similar fashion– was a battle for morality and for their livelihoods. Anger boiled over, and the amount of reinforcements that responded correlated to an Irish response to these grievances.

    Dzienik also states how Ireland had many reasons to have frustration for Britain–namely in policies such as Poynings’ Law of 1494 that limited its Parliament and the Navigation Acts that similarly affected the American colonies. But larger challenges at home, such as the power of the Anglo-Irish, made dissenters turn their attention towards them. Those who did emigrate came well before the “Shot Heard Around the World”. Furthermore, while over half of those enlisted in the Pennsylvania militias were composed of Irish-born soldiers, it did not necessarily correlate to feelings of revolution alone. The Irish would see motivation to fight through Britain’s actions during and after the war, including an increasing centralization of Parliament, economic troubles stemming from the war, a youthful movement after the American and French Revolutions for independence, and the recruitment of Catholics into British military ranks (though this initial attempt would fail).

    Economics at home were considered a large part of both theories, but the enemy considered largest culprits of such issues are divergent. Regardless, the presence of Irishmen within colonial ranks proved to be influential in providing the manpower for American military strategy.

  • This article addresses some of the same points Neimeyer raises in his book. They both focus on the Irish peoples’ role in the North American conflict against the British. However, while Neimeyer proposes the Irish had a hatred for the British that drew them to the American cause, this article offers a diffrent explanation. It goes so far as to state that the American revolution served as a catalyst to awaken the Irish spirit of freedom. This article then goes on to discuss Irish struggles for independence that lasted into the 1900’s, Neimeyer does not elaborate on that side of the equation, choosing to remain within the North American conflict.

  • Both of these authors, Neimeyer and Dziennik talk about the involvement of the Irish in the American Revolution. Neimeyer talks about having a lot of Irish men in the war so I thought it was interesting that Dziennik said that the “American Revolution had a far greater impact on Ireland than Ireland had on the American Revolution”. Though its said in the book “America Goes to War” that there really is no way of knowing exactly how many men in the war were from an Irish or Scottish background, there are many records that do show there were a lot of them there fighting for our cause, even if it was to support their own at the same time. Dziennik said that “over half of those enlisted in the Pennsylvania militias were composed of Irish-born soldiers”. In this reading and in the book “America Goes to War” it shows that the Irish and the Americans had a similar goal which was independence from Great Britain. Though in the book it talked about one main reason Americans were weary of allowing Irish men into the military. It was because they had fears that the Irish men would desert the American soldiers the first chance they got. There are records of Irish men that deserted the military but there are also records of Americans deserting the military. I think that the Irish men enlisted helped the American cause in gaining independence when we did. Something in the book that stood out to me as well was that “four Philadelphia Presbyterian ministers told their congregations that if the patriot movement was wrong in its conduct then “our forefathers that fought for liberty at Londonderry ans Enniskillen in King James’ time were wrong” (pg. 31).

  • This article in conjunction with Niemeyer’s “America Goes to War” makes me curious to examine the military tactics used by both the rebels in the Americas and in Ireland to examine the similarities, and what else the Irish might have derived from the American Revolution besides philosophy and spirit. I think this is an interesting article, however, I’m always a little bit skeptical about how much the American Revolution inspired subsequent revolutions in Europe, considering how little is taught about it in contemporary Europe. The most cited inspiration for 19th c. revolutions is the French Revolution. Outside of America, it is discussed as having a far greater impact on International politics than the American Revolution. Therefore, I’m skeptical that it may have been the example used by Irish revolutionaries.

  • Dziennik and Neimeyer both provide reasons for the Irish rebellion against the British Empire, both in the American mainland and Ireland. While there were similarities between the two authors’ points such as their being oppressed resulting in political and economic grievances, there were some differences as well. The primary difference between the two authors’ theses, at least as far as I am concerned, is that Dzennik states that it was the American Revolution had more of an impact upon Ireland than the island state itself had upon the Revolution. Meanwhile, Neimeyer states that it is because of radicalization due to much discontent among the Irish antebellum that they decided to join the American cause.

  • I think both articles make good points about the motivation the Irish displayed while fighting the British in the American Revolution. I tend to agree with Dziennik, but I also do tend believe the Irish had as much of an impact on the Americans as the Americans did on the Irish.

  • This article seems to focus on the internal strife Ireland was under at the time of the American Revolution. Dziennik references religious tension internally that the Irish was subject to between the protestants and catholics. He also mentions that patriots in Ireland were not as radical as their American counterparts, nor were the motives the same. This makes sense considering the division between the majority and those in power in Ireland as a result of religious divide.

    While Neimeyer notes religion as a discussion point in his chapter, it seems like Neimeyer’s train of thought for the Irish presence in the American Revolution comes from the similar desire of the two for independence from the British Empire. He compares how the American oppression by the British resonated with the Irish in what they had suffered under British rule. He also makes a point of how immigration at different points in the 1700s from Ireland led to a large number of Scots-Irish Presbyterians moving to the middle colonies, like Pennsylvania, and how they ended up being the backbone of the Continental Army. Even though both the British and the American colonists frowned upon having the Irish in their armies, the fact remains that they still made up a sizable chunk of each force. I believe that both writers contain a good amount of facts and both support their arguments with their facts in an effective way. I think that combining what was written between the two authors gives a well-rounded perspective of why the Irish were involved in the revolution and what their role was in it.

  • Niemeyer and Dziennik both focus on the importance of the Irish in the American Revolution. However, their main arguments differ. Niemeyer points out that the Irish held much sympathy for the American separatists because they themselves had experienced oppression at the hands of the British. The appeal to the powers of the Earth allowed the Irish to relate to the American situation and support them. Also, the Irish feared that events such as the Quartering Act in the colonies would come to Ireland. He provides evidence that shows separatist beliefs occurred in Ireland long before the American Revolution. Niemeyer uses all of these points to show the Irish held radical, revolutionary beliefs and used the American Revolution as a vehicle to ‘get back at the British’. On the other hand, Dziennik finds that, while the Irish did experience much oppression from the British, the American Revolution gave rise to the revolutionary ideas held by the Irish–they did not exist beforehand. He shows that the Irish fought for rights that were taken away from them, not new ones, unlike the American colonists. The Irish would use similar tactics that the colonists used, such as non-importation agreements, however, they would not resort to declaring independence. However, the experience of the American Revolution led to resistance and revolution on the Irish homeland.

  • The authors Matthew P. Dziennik and Charles Patrick Neimeyer agree that Ireland and Irish people played a large role in the American Revolution. Their numbers in the Continental Army were significant compared to other groups of people. Neimeyer discusses how the Irish, like the Americans, held grievances against the British Empire, and this compelled them to fight with the Americans in the war. On the other hand, Dziennik claims that although the Irish were also oppressed by the British, their frustration did not lead them to demand for an independent republic. Instead, all they wanted was to restore their rights within the British Empire. Both the Irish and the Americans wanted their rights, but the Americans were willing to go much further than the Irish.

    While Neimeyer focuses on the effect the Irish had on the American Revolution, Dziennik points out the significant effect the American Revolution had across Europe and the world. He argues that “American resistance to Britain was transplanted to Ireland,” and not the other way around. I tend to agree more with his arguments. The American Revolution and the American ideals were very radical for the time, as it was not common for a colony to fight for independence from an empire. These radical ideas were eventually spread to Ireland, who fought for their independence many years later.

  • Dziennik’s article on the Irish involvement in the American Revolution is similar to Niemeyer’s book “America Goes to War”. Both authors reference Ireland’s place in the British Empire and how Ireland and America are linked by the amount of Irish immigrants in the late 1700’s. Both authors also mention the “rabble-rousing Presbyterians” when referring to the religious tension felt by the Irish and the views of British leaders of the time although Dziennik stresses the religious aspect more than Niemeyer. The Irish felt sympathy for the American cause due to a shared fear and frustration of the British Empire but most Irish did not fight in the Continental army for patriotic reasons but for land and material incentives. Overall, there is a consensus that the American Revolution influenced the political climate in Ireland and Irish immigrants were involved in the American Revolution but the details and magnitude of the influence in both directions is debated.

  • I have to agree with the previous posts about how Dziennik and Niemeyer views on the effects of Irish involvement in the American Revolution. I would have to agree with Dziennik with on the effect that the American Revolution had on the Irish independence movement. The American Revolution not only inspired the Irish, but many other people to fight for their sovereignty.

  • As Neimeyer points out, the American Revolution was indeed a Trans-Atlantic event that connected various peoples and united them in their grievances against the British Empire. Charles Lucas’ paper Freeman’s Journal followed the events in the American colonies very closely, as they began questioning what rights they had under British rule while following the protests surrounding the Stamp Act and questioning the legality of quartering British troops in North America. Lucas equated “oppression” in America with “the heavy Yoke of Tyranny” in Ireland. As demonstrated in the article above, the Irish perception of British oppression and the inspiration drawn from the American and French revolutions would inspire religious strife, however, as the religious denominations began forming secret societies in order to defend themselves from sectarian violence.

  • The most prominent difference I observed between this article by Dziennik and Neimeyer’s chapter regarding Irish involvement in the Continental Army was the overall perspective/argument of each author. On one hand, Dziennik argued that it was the American Revolution that had a greater impact on the Irish – on the other hand, although not explicitly stated, Neimeyer wrote in a manner that would lead one to believe that the Irish had a larger impact on the revolution. What’s fascinating about this is that both authors used very similar evidence to present their perspectives; they both discussed the vast number of Irish immigrants in the colonies and their reasons for leaving Ireland, they examined the somewhat sporadic tendency to switch allegiances, and they observed the role religion played in the conflict.

    I would argue the nature of each author’s perspective stems from his background. Dziennik is a Scotsman, while Neimeyer is an American. Both men are clearly well educated and very interested in history, but geographic location can produce biases. To specify, the manner in which the American Revolution is examined in the United States today is drastically different than the way it is examined in Europe; therefore, Dziennik and Neimeyer see the revolution through a different lens.

    With that being said, both pieces of work present well-wrought evidence to support their claims; and it is clear that the Irish and the American Revolution have too strong of a relationship to ignore.

  • Both Dziennik and Neimeyer do not shy away from their discussions of how impactful the Irish were on the American Revolution. However, Neimeyer focuses on the impact of similar grievances Ireland and America had against Britain and how this led to the large amount of Irish in the American Revolution. He notes that Congress was “anxious to gain the loyalties of these Irish emigrants” and that they sought to “’tamper’ with the Irish homeland.” Through an address to Ireland that listed certain grievances toward the crown, Congress, according to Neimeyer, sought to find “common ground” with the Irish. Dziennik, although stating that there were common grievances, focuses on the religious elements of Irish objections. These factors created a difference in the Irish resistance and the American resistance.
    Dziennik additionally states that the Irish were seen to be easier to influence in terms of joining the American troops, as they were “considered to be among those most likely to change sides.” Neimeyer, on the other hand, focuses on the likelihood that they were to desert the forces. They “had little time to establish themselves in the communities that recruited them.” Perhaps it was the ease the Irish had in changing sides that led to their higher likelihood of desertion.

  • I believe that Irish had an extremely influential impact on the American Revolution. This impact comes in a variety of ways such as Irish leadership in the revolution, as well as Irish militiamen. I believe that if the Irish did not help the Americans, we would have struggled more than we did throughout the revolution. Likewise, I think Americans played a significant role on Irish independence because we should Ireland that getting away from Britain’s oppression was possible.

  • Both Dziennik and Niemeyer stress the importance that Irish immigrants played on the American Revolution. Dziennik highlights that Irish resistance toward Britain was not as radical as much of the American resistance was. He also states that the Irish wished for a restoration of rights, instead of a revolution.

  • It is very interesting to see the differences that both Neimeyer and Dziennik had when it comes to the effect that the Irish had on the American Revolution. They used some of the same facts in their respective works such as how the Irish made up a large portion of the Continental Army. However, they seem to disagree on who influenced the other the most regarding the revolution. Dziennik suggest that the Americans were the ones that caused greater resentment of the British to take hold in Ireland. He stressed the effects that the American Revolution had on the world and that the change in Irish sentiment was an effect of that. Neimeyer on the other hand suggest that it was the Irish that influenced the Americans to grow more radical as more and more of them were immigrating to America. That it was the Irish that had a strong radical resentment to the British before the American Revolution.

  • Dziennik has a different take on the relationship between the Americans and the Irish during the American Revolution. He insists that America had a much stronger influence on Ireland during this time, while writers like Neimeyer think the opposite. While I can certainly see Dziennik’s points and agree that the revolution caused many of the Irish to have new feelings about the British, I think that overall there was more influence from Ireland on America. The American Army was made 25% made up of Irish immigrants at the time of the revolution and their efforts helped to gain our independence and become the country that we are to this day. Dziennik may argue that fighting in the war gave the Irish a stronger hatred for the British, when they already had hatred to begin with. Everything ranging from unfair British landlords to William Petty’s mapping of Ireland had already given the Irish reasons to be upset. The Irish involvement in the American Revolution simply strengthened the feelings that Ireland already had against the British.

  • This is a very interesting article. Dziennik’s point that the Irish were inspired by the American Revolution and American’s distaste for British rule is an important aspect of the tensions in British politics during this time. Charles Neimeyer asserts that the Irish had already held strong distaste for British authority before the American Revolution, and that tensions and dissent had existed in Ireland long before the Revolution. Reconciling this point is difficult, as Irish resistance had existed for some time before the Revolution. However, it is important to note that there were lasting effects as a result of the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence. Thus, the Revolution likely acted more as a catalyst and a precedent for independence, rather than a brewing pot for dissent in Ireland and other places of the World. This point is important to note when trying to understand the lasting effects of the American Revolution on the Irish and the British Empire as a whole.

  • Dziennek states that being Irish didn’t necessarily mean that people were being oppressed by the British empire. However, we know that there was anti-Catholic legislation in Ireland and Irish were not allowed own their own land. Instead Anglo-Irish Land owners were given land by parliament and Scots were moved to Ireland in the hopes of “breeding out” Catholicism in Ireland. I find it very hard to believe Dziennek’s argument that being born Irish did not automatically include you in some form of repression by the British government.

  • Being Catholic the article states the struggles for the Irish oppression was not just political but religious in nature. It explained the differences of Protestant and Catholic Irish immigrants, instead of having similar definition of the Irish. Niemeyer believed the war was brought on by the Presbyterians, Protestant and only a small portion of the Catholics were involved. However, Dzniennik’s writes how the Irish opposition to British oppression in Ireland was due to the exclusion of Catholics and dissenting Protestant.

  • Both Dziennek and Neimeyer heavily discuss the role of the Irish and their importance in engaging in the Revolutionary war. I agree with Dziennek when he stated “The American Revolution had a far greater impact on Ireland than Ireland had on the American Revolution”. With 25% of Irish people engaging and fighting in the war they definitely impacted America with their rise to victory. But I believe the victory over the British was an inspiration to the people of Ireland and introduced the possibility of retreating away from Britain’s oppression. To my understanding the Irish entered the war for revenge and left the war with a newfound outlook on the rise of a lower power.

  • Neimeyer discusses the vital role that Irish immigrants played in helping Americans win the Revolutionary war. Contritely, Dziennik discusses the role Americans played in pushing Ireland towards their own revolution. I think that Neimeyer has a more sustainable viewpoint, considering the Irish people had long been oppressed by the British government, much earlier than the American Revolution. I disagree with Dziennik in that the Irish people were conservative in their resistance, but rather I think that they had less impact on the British government due to close proximity with England and their own internal division.

  • This is very compelling. On one hand, the American Revolution helped inspire Ireland to revolt against the British Empire. However, I think that British oppression of Ireland scared Americans, and it gave them motivation to revolt or else end up like Ireland. Many Irish immigrants fought in the American colonial military and helped America fight off Britain. I believe both had a substantial impact on each other, but Ireland had a larger impact on the American Revolution than the American Revolution had on Ireland.

  • Dziennik’s article is similar to Niemeyer’s work in his book “America Goes to War” because they both discuss the amount of immigration of Irish during the revolutionary war. They both discuss the reasons the Irish had to partake in the American revolutionary war. In which Niemeyer does not include the impact of the American Revolution on the Irish especially regarding revolutionary actions in Ireland. Dziennik comments on how the relationship is between Ireland and the American revolution is more complex in which it inspired a new generation of revolution. Niemeyer on the other hand recognizes recognizes the similarities of the tyranny of the British in controlling America and Ireland. This was recognized as they were kindred spirits. I think both make good points and Dziennik’s article was enlightening as I had not thought about the role America had played on Ireland before.

  • O’Brien in 1919 showed that half the ships from Ireland sailing to America left from ports in the south, with mostly Catholic populations. He also found purely Irish-Catholic names in the muster rolls of Washington’s army. He found many marriage records with purely Irish names in Protestant church’s !
    Many Scots-Irish in the southern colonies fought on the Loyalist side (see the Battle of Kings Mountain).
    For a lively read on the Scots-Irish in American History, try “Born Fighting by Sen. Jim Webb !!

    • “He also found purely Irish-Catholic names in the muster rolls of Washington’s army. ”

      There isn’t any such thing as “purely Catholic” name. The names found on the rolls belong almost exclusively to Irish Protestants.

      There is a profound weirdness that gets called to articles discussing the Protestant Irish. It is not a peculiarity that can be found responding to French Huguenot essays, German Palatine essays, or even pieces on the Italian Waldensians. It is uniquely the case that articles on the Protestant Irish (including this one) are almost entirely published by authors who will claim, with no foundation in fact, that the Protestant Irish colonists were all ethnically Scottish, and which will in turn invite the nods of anti-Protestant Irish and “Scotch-Irish” mythologists who are sure to be found directly below, affirming these baseless rumors.

      I will spell this out clearly: there is “zero” chance that the Protestant Irish colonists were all ethnic Scots. It is “zero” because I’ve spent several years reviewing the genealogy literature and have found Irish names represented well among the Protestant populations of the colonies: they can be found in the old church records and in the graveyards, and they are stone-etched for time and eternity. I’ve also reviewed the “Scotch-Irish” DNA projects and the results support the name analysis: there were native Irish Protestants in the colonies, and they were not in insignificant numbers.

  • It was nice of the Irish to provide 25% of the Continental Army’s manpower and help American win their revolution. It was a real shame to hear that their’s was squashed however. Perhaps America should have sent 25% worth of the Irish army’s troops and maybe then it could have been successful? There could be some major synergy between those two.

  • “[T]he Anglo-Irish made up around ten per cent of the population but controlled over ninety per cent of Ireland’s land.” This is perhaps the most important fact Dziennik brings up in the article. Depriving the Irish people of their land was the root of both hatred for the English, and the primary motivator for Irishmen to migrate to the North American colonies. In America Goes to War, Charles Patrick Neimeyer lays out two reasons why upwards of 1/4th of the Continental Army was Irish: material gain (most importantly, promises of land in exchange for service) and anti-English ideology. These two drivers of Irishmen into the Continental Army directly relate back to the oppression of the Irish in the homeland via the inability to own land. Dziennik also brings up an important point that the Continental Army was broadly very immigrant-heavy, containing many Germans and recently migrated English. If recent immigrants in general were likely to join the army, then it seems a large proportion of Continental troops would be expected to be Irishmen as, according to Niemeyer, the 1770s saw a massive amount of Irish emigration to North America even before the outbreak of war.

  • The connection between the American Revolution and Ireland is clear yet I find it hard to agree with the main point Dziennik is attempting to make in that the American Revolution had a greater impact on Ireland than vice versa. From a statistical perspective as Charles Neimeyer brings up in the second chapter of his book America Goes To War, the number of Irishmen who immigrated to North America and fought in the revolution is staggering. One such example is the Pennsylvanian regiments who averaged 46% Irish immigrants in a 1779 muster (Neimeyer 35). An estimated 25% of the total American military force was made up of Irish immigrants. With so many Irishmen fighting for the American side (regardless of motivations), it is incredibly difficult to discount the impact of so many Irish. Neimeyer also discusses the British attempts at recruiting Irish once they had realized so many Irish were going to America to fight. As the British discovered, the Irish has more incentive to fight for the impudent American (incentivized by promises of money, land and independence) which drastically impacted their inclusion in British military (40 – 41). So, while Dziennik makes a good case for the impact that the American Revolution had on Ireland, it is unlikely that you could with any great certainty state that one factor was more influential on one than other.

  • Dziennik and Niemeyer both discuss the reality that the bulk of the American army in the Revolutionary War was Irish-born or descendants. Niemeyer even goes so far in his book “America Goes to War” as to claim that 25% was Irish based on enlistment rosters. However, Niemeyer and Dziennik disagree on whether or not that made the revolution and Irish one or an American one. I find Dziennik’s argument more enticing based on the fact that the Irish didn’t officially revolt until 1798. If they were truly the energy behind the American army, then why did they have to emigrate first in order to wage war on the British empire? It seems much more likely that Irish immigrants came to America and enlisted in the army for incentives such as land.

  • Dziennik, by giving examples like the United Irishmen, shows the impact America had on Ireland in the period following the American Revolution. When put in comparison with Charles Neimeyer’s chapter, “The Most Audacious Rascals Existing: The Irish in the Continental Army” in his book America Goes to War, Dziennik focuses more on the influence the United States had on Ireland while Neimeyer focuses more what the Irish did in America during the Revolutionary War. While both men touch on reasons why the Irish fought in the Revolution, I find myself agreeing with Dziennik’s reasoning of that most Irishmen joined for economic reasons more than Neimeyer’s reasoning, which tends to be that most joined out of a hatred of the British. I have a hard time picking a side when it comes to the larger argument of which group influenced the other more. While the numbers of Irishmen coming to North America to fight are staggering, it is hard to look over the influence the American Revolution had on the attitudes of Irishmen in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, as once someone catches the revolutionary spirit, it is hard to put to down.

  • In terms of explaining Irish involvement in the American Revolution, this article goes a step beyond Niemeyer’s book. Niemeyer outlines that the Irish played a significant role, and they did, but Dziennik’s claim that the Irish also made up a significant amount of the British army seems to indicate that the motives of the Irish were often skewed towards more material incentives. For example, their status as former criminals in Ireland, and the British army’s willingness to overlook this status, led many of them to join the British war effort. It also begs the question of who the bigger patriots were: the Irish or the American colonists? Dziennik seems to argue that it was the Americans who were more patriotic in regard to the struggle for independence because even the Irish legislatures in Ireland did not formally demand independence until much later on. It is clear that while the Irish contributed significantly to the American cause, they were more likely to do so for material incentives than for political principles.

  • The greatest difference between this and Charles Neimeyer’s argument in “America Goes To War,” is that Dziennik argues that the cause for American Independence was transferred to Ireland while Neimeyer seems to argue the opposite. While both acknowledge the complicated similarities between the two causes which link them together, Dziennik points out some interesting facts about the Irish. First, the non-Catholic Irish in Ireland weren’t looking for Irish Independence because they did not want to share governance with the Catholics. This is interesting due to the fact that most of the Irish who fought in America were Presbyterians and other non-Catholic denominations. Also, Dzennik points out that many of the Irish in America left Ireland to escape personal legal charges. He also points out they were among the most likely to switch sides. These points could be linked. The ability of the British to acquit the Irish of their crimes may have offered an opportunity for both the British and those Irishmen.

  • One point that came to mind during the reading of this article was the Irish men who immigrated to America. They were thought to join the British Army as well as the American Army. I also found it interesting that Irish regulars fought alongside English regulars in the British Army. This Article draws many similarities to Charles Neimeyer’s book America Goes to War, one being that 25% of the Colonial armies were Irish. This article also added the large proportion of German soldiers in the American army. Another point this article showed was that Americans were more radical than Ireland. I found this very interesting, as I would imagine The Irish would want to become more radical after the atrocities that the British committed against them.

  • Niemeyer made an excellent argument for why the Irish contributed so much for the American Revolution. They comprised about 1/4 of the entire army, and recruiters heavily marketed to the Irish to come and fight. They were promised land and a chance at revenge. Some during the war even commented on the revolution being a Protestant Irish one instead of an Irish one. I found this to be a much more compelling argument that they did contribute a lot than the one against.

  • This article contrasts with Neimeyer’s assertion that Irish resistance to British rule was transplanted to America as they immigrated from abroad. Instead, this article contends that American resistance influenced the Irish resistance across the Atlantic.

  • Dziennik and Neimeyer both discuss the consistency of the American army during the American Revolution. Neimeyer states that the American army was 25% Irish, a fact that Dziennik also believes to be true. However, the two authors disagree on whether the army was truly American or not. Personally, I believe that the Irish being in the American army did not make it any less American; they were still fighting for the American cause, despite their own personal reasons for land or other incentives. I found Neimeyer’s argument to be more influential because he proved that the Irish came to America in droves, which is a testament to the fact that the Irish came to America for incentives, whether that be for revenge, land, or coats.

    • In addition, I agree with Dziennik in that the matter was highly complex. There were many similarities between America and Ireland, but there were also matters that Americans did not have to face in relation to Britain that Ireland did, such as much stricter rule for centuries. Americans had the opportunity for land ownership even under British rule, a right that most Irish did not have. I think it is possible that both Dziennik and Neimeyer are correct; I do not doubt that there was much hostility within Ireland before their revolution and that inspired them to act years later. I also think it is possible that they waited to have a revolution until they had a clear example that it could be done by the Americans. The matter is highly complicated, but overall I felt that Neimeyer addressed the fact that the Americans had a large influence on the Irish revolution better and more clearly. In totality, I think both authors did a good job of demonstrating that America’s revolution and Declaration of Independence had a large amount of influence on Ireland, the British Empire, and the world as a whole.

  • While I had never fully considered it before, I would say that I completely agree with the point Dziennik makes in this article. I was fully aware, due to reading Neimeyer, that an estimated 25% of forces in the American Revolution were immigrant Irishmen–some who were recruited via the “great coat.”

    Both arguments make sense to me, and I don’t believe they are mutually exclusive. Both, in my opinion, can be true. I would not say, though, that one event definitely caused the other.

  • I can agree with Dziennik to the point that the American Revolution was influential to Ireland, however I disagree that Ireland was not influential to America. Irish resentment to Great Britain was not absent and I would argue grew early than that of America’s resentment. Irish recruits accounted for twenty-five percent of the Continental Army as Charles Neimeyer points out in his book “America Goes To War”. Neimeyer also points out that while many left Ireland to fight for material reasons, some planned to return home with what they had learned in the American Revolution to help inspire and start their own revolution in Ireland. Neimeyer also shows the resentment in Ireland by describing Charles Lucas who edited the “Freeman’s Journal” that kept both the Irish and Americas informed with current information. Lucas makes the argument that America experience oppression while Ireland experienced tyranny at its fullest. I argue that both America and Ireland influenced each other not that American was the sole source of influence.

  • Ireland and America vs. Britain

    In my American Revolution class, we are discussing the integration of Irish immigrants into the American army and why they joined. In the book we are reading “America Goes to War” by Charles Neimeyer, Neimeyer explicitly states that the Irish joined America in the fight against the British because of the temptation of land and revenge on the British for their hardships. The difference between this book and this article is obvious. The article states that the Irish immigrants did not have a hatred for Britain that Neimeyer suggests, and the idea of revolution was implanted into Ireland after the American Revolution versus Irish immigrants instilling even more fuel to the fire that burned within the American colonists. I think that this view from the article is very interesting and reiterates that idea that America spread its revolutionary ideas because they were the birth of the modern idea of revolution.

  • Charles Neimeyer discusses the Irish’s role in the American Revolution in his book “America Goes to War” and I feel that he leans towards more of taking the stance that the Irish influenced the Americans in the Revolution because 25 percent of the Colonial army was Irishmen. Neimeyer makes more of the case that the Irish cared more for material gain but were also driven by ideological reasons. Dziennik says the Americans influenced the Irish far more because the symptoms of Revolution are basically contagious which led to the Irish wanting to revolt against Britain a few years later. Dziennik makes the case that Irish in their rebellious mindsets wanted more rights and not outright Independence like the Americans did. It is because of this that I believe that only a part of the rebellious nature of the American Revolution was transferred to the Irish since to them it was more about rights than achieving status as a sovereign nation.

  • I very much enjoy the point made here that Irish hatred of the British was not transplanted onto the Americans. That being said, we did not transplant our hatred of the British on the Irish either. The Irish had a longstanding history of conflict with the British starting with their complete dominion over Ireland. Just because that conflict never poured over into outright revolution, does not imply that they obtained their hatred of the British from us. They also were not being constrained by factors not present in America. The point risen about a tripartite division among the Irish perfectly mirrors that described of the Americans by Benjamin Franklin, yet it did not prevent a Revolution here. An important difference raised here is that we were more radical than they, but no more information is provided explaining how that is so or why that would have been the case. Dziennik seems to imply that being American meant you had an innate hatred of the British which is ignorant of the facts that just ten years prior to the Revolution, many colonists, including Benjamin Franklin, celebrated their Britishness. Charles Neimeyer however, does note that the primary reason the Irish made up 25% of the “American” Army was for material gains such as land and money. Revenge, while still a factor, was secondary to the material gains. So ultimately what is to be concluded from these two sources is that the Irish inclusion in the American Revolution is complicated, and the exact reason their revolution took place after ours is not as clear cut as they were totally influenced by our revolutionary attitudes, and despite both author’s extensive research on the subject, much of it is subjective and cannot be concluded definitely with current knowledge.

  • I really enjoyed how this article opened up giving readers a historical tie to the present day. However, the rest of the article was very hard to follow, but within the structural issues, Dziennik makes the argument that America heavily influenced Ireland. I agree that America had an impact on the Irish Revolution by instilling the confidence in the Irish people to revolt against the British. I find issue in that Dziennik does not give credit to the huge role the Irish played in the American Revolution. Even if the Irish only fought with the Americans for material reasons, or only for revenge against the British Empire, they still joined the American Army. In fact, in Charles Neimeyer’s book, America Goes to War, he identifies that 25% of the entire American Army was made up of Irish men. There is no doubt that the Irish heavily impacted the American Revolution by joining the fight against the British.

  • Both Niemeyer and Dziennik provide important and interesting details about American and Irish dependency on each other. But Niemeyer provides better statistics and evidence to back up his point. However what I believe is important to note is that both the Irish and Americans affected each other, but in different ways. Niemeyer focuses on how the Irish greatly impacted America with physical bodies to fight in the war. While Dziennik focuses on how the Americans greatly impacted the ideology of the Irish. I think that both failed to bring both of these two points together in unison and that both authors focus too much on their side. You can’t talk about one point without thinking of the other. Both did talk about each side but neglected to signify their importance. I think that both the Irish and the Americans benefitted each other in their own ways and that it was not one sided. The Irish supplied America with bodies for the Revolution and America provided the Irish with the belief that they could stand up to their oppressor and fight for their Independence.

  • I would disagree with the statement that American hatred for the British was rubbed off on the Irish. I believe that the Irish had many years of hate towards the British, but we’re unable to start a revolution due to the fact they were so close in proximity to England. According to Neimeyer, 25% of the people that fought in the American Revolution were Irish. Neimeyer also believed that the Irish fought for more material things than ideological. The Irish were promised land and money to fight. I think this was a big factor on deciding if they were to fight or not. I think the Irish had their own reasons for fighting.

  • This article brought up some good ideas concerning America’s impact on the Irish and their revolution. However, I feel like it may have gone too far to say that America’s impact on Ireland far surpassed the Irish impact on America. Neimeyer argues the opposite, that because of large Irish support in the American revolution (25% of the Continental army was Irish), their help was invaluable and impactful for American success. I believe both sides are right here, and this isn’t a black and white argument. I think that many Irish were willing to fight for the American cause because they resented the British, but before the American revolution, a direct Irish revolt against British rule was unthinkable. It wasn’t until after America’s victory that the Irish realized that a revolt may indeed lead to success.

  • Dziennek makes the argument that the American Revolution played a role in influencing how the Irish viewed themselves under the control of the British Empire. However, he only takes into account the American Revolution and not the French Revolution which cannot be understated due to it effect it had all over Europe and the World. Without the success and life changing events that both revolutions had over the global landscape, future events would not of had the same success and potential for change. It is human nature to seek freedom and the ability to decide your own destiny the Irish people would of pursued those desires eventually without the American Revolution. I think the Irish and Americans had nearly an equal effect over each other. In Charles Neimeyer’s book, America Goes to War, he points out that the Irish were 25% of the soldiers in the U.S army and that they were more interested in material possession that would benefit themselves. He also points out that they were likely to switch sides. It takes generations to form a national identity and in colonies that contained large numbers of English, Irish, and Germans immigrants among others that is understandable. There was not a common enemy in the English among the soldiers that took part in the American Revolution. Sure, hatred for the English was one factor but the greater factor was that they thought they were increasing the likelihood that they could be successful in America and so could their future generations.

  • Overall, I have to agree more with Neimeyer’s take on Ireland’s influence in the American Revolution, but do believe America still had a small influence in Ireland’s fight against Britain. Had the Americans not succeeded in their fight for independence when they were thousands of miles across an ocean from the British, it is possible any moderates in Ireland would have been swayed from fighting, given their proximity to the British mainland. But since the Americans won, moderates in Ireland could find hope for their own independence, regardless of how close they were in proximity to the British.

  • The Irish had their own reasons for joining either side in the American Revolution. The Irish had came to North America to improve their own quality of life. They all had different reasons for fighting but most joined the Revolution to gain material possession that would benefit themselves and their own families. That resulted in 25 percent of the American soldiers being Irishman. Its hard to say exactly if the Irish had a greater influence on America or if America had a greater influence in Ireland. The two situations have too many other factors that have to be taken into account such as religious differences and the fact that America was on a separate continent while Ireland was an island. Dziennik focused greatly on the ideology effect that the revolution had in Ireland. America’s successful Revolution proved to the world that the British could be defeated by one of their former colonies. It is human nature to pursue self determination and self destiny.

  • I believe that it is hard to say whether one group influenced another more. The very nature of the continental army, and the newly declared America is that of mixed cultures. I think that the Irish, while seeking material gains, might have been able to achieve those gains in other conflicts. I do not think it is a coincidence that they chose the American fight for independence. I think there are two main reasons for this (other than material). The first reason, is that the Irish hated the British. While not “all” Irish did, obviously enough did that 25% of the Continental army were from Ireland. If that many people feel strongly enough to cross the Atlantic and fight the crown, then who is to say how many people supported their efforts but were unable to join the struggle? The second reason, is that these Irish were hoping to beat the British in an all out conflict, and learn what to do, or what not to do, if they were to revolt themselves. It is impossible that at least the continental army was not influenced by the Irish when a quarter of them are Irish, as it is impossible that the Irish were not influenced by the majority colonists that made up the rest of the army.

  • I enjoyed this interesting perspective on the relationship between the Ireland and the colonial America during the Revolutionary War. I think the author downplays the significance of the Irish’s role in the Revolution. According to historian Charles Neimeyer, the Irish accounted for twenty-five percent of the American fighting force. This is hugely significant. In addition, I could relate to the article’s discussion of Irish animosity towards the British. I lived in Ireland for a few years before moving to the United States. From my experience, the Irish do not like the British.

  • I believe both the Americans and Irish had a supstantial impact on each other. Without the Irish help it is quite possible that America would have never won the Revolutionary War, or it would have taken much longer. Without the American model for the Irish, the Irish may have never revolted against the British. I believe it’s hard to say which had the biggest impact on the other.

  • The concept of religion in Ireland had how deeply it affected anti-British sentiment was an interesting concept that is very a complicated issue both within Ireland and Great Britain since the Reformation. The question of how deeply this motivated Irish “patriots” must have some weight because of the quarter of soldiers in the American Army were Irish. Anti-British sentiment was a common factor with the colonists and the the old and new Irish that the two could relate to despite the reasoning for fighting the British may had different motives entirely.

  • This article makes some solid points. It is never a good idea to think in absolutes, so it makes sense that being Irish did not automatically mean that you supported the American Revolution. Clearly, this is true given the example of Irish troops fighting in the British Army. One argument to support the “Americans gave the Irish their anti-British sentiments” is that the Irish did not have a major revolution themselves before America’s. Some counterpoints to this could be that Irish had the rebellious sentiments, but simply didn’t have the means to be able to rebel. This could be primarily due to Ireland’s proximity to England and the tripartite society mentioned in the article. It could be argued that the American Revolution simply provided the Irish with the confidence to act on their internal rebellious feelings.
    One thing that intrigues me is the fact that it was Presbyterian Irish or Scots-Irish who fought for the Americans. Given the many prejudices against Catholics in that time, I wonder if the majority of Irish immigrants had been Catholic at the time, would they have been welcomed into the cause like they were?

  • I found the point that the American Revolution impacted the Irish more than the Irish impacted the Americans the most intriguing. Although 25% of the Continental Army was Irish I find the dates of the revolutions to be the most convincing on the American impact on Ireland. The American Revolution would end in 1783, but what would follow would be multiple revolutions throughout the world including the Irish Revolution in 1798. I find that the impact of the American Revolution can be applied to not only the Irish, but the rest of the world.

  • At first, I was a little confused as to why Dziennik jumped from St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to Irish involvement in the American revolution. While he makes good arguments towards Ireland and America having significant ties with one another, I’m sure that these ties had impacts other than in the American Revolution and Ireland’s rebellions. I dislike the idea of saying that one nation had a greater impact on the other, but rather that both Ireland and America had significant influences on each other. Charles Neimeyer describes in his book “America Goes to War” an in-depth look at why the Irish supported and were a part of the American Revolution. They had been at ends with Britain for many years prior to the revolution, but due to their close proximity with Britain were easily suppressed and controlled. Neimeyer discuses why and how 25% of the American Army was made up of Irishmen. They previously fled from religious persecution and during economically low points for a better life in America. Many joined the war under simply for land rights according to Neimeyer. However, Dziennik notes that Ireland was inspired by the American Revolution had a rebellion of their own in 1798 but were quickly defeated and became a part of Great Britain. Little more is mentioned about America’s support and influence on Ireland.

  • Neimeyer argues that the Irish came to support the American revolution as a means of settling centuries of oppression due to British Rule. As a consequence of these intense motivations, the vengeful Irish sentiment actually transplanted onto Americans and radicalized them prior to and during the war. Many insiders and outsiders during the time observed the impact of the Irish on the Americans. American captain Johann Heinrichs commented to a friend, “not to call the war and American Rebellion, for it is nothing more than an Irish-Scotch Presbyterian Rebellion”. British captain Joshua Pell said that the American army was, “chiefly composed of Irish Redemptioners and Convicts, the most audacious rascals existing”. Dziennik, on the other hand, holds a starkly oppositional view towards the influence. “The point here is not that Irish people did not support the revolutionaries; many clearly did. Rather, it is to suggest that being Irish did not imply the presence of revolutionary ideals or an inveterate hatred of Britain. Irish resistance to the British Empire was not transplanted to America – American resistance to Britain was transplanted to Ireland.” He does not believe that the radicalization of American armed forces was heavily fueled by enraged Irishmen coming over prior to the war and spreading their ideology. He seems to be portraying that negative Irish sentiment towards the British were not what they once were. While aiding the American forces and news of the French revolution after, it was only then the Irish were inspired to their own uprising against the empire. While I think they both make interesting arguments, I find Neimeyer’s to be more compelling. Based on the sheer numbers of Irish colonists prior to the war and the influx of Irish immigrants successfully recruited to fight, I do not think these statistics can be overlooked. I think Dzinnik did make some good points, particularly that the American revolution and the French Revolution encouraged and inspired an Irish one as well. There was a trade of influences. However, I do not think Irish influence on Americans can be discounted.

  • Though well-written, this article poses a false dilemma and then defends its argument with faulty evidence. Ireland and America would have surely affected each other, as they were both part of the British Empire and many immigrants to North America came from Ireland. It is not necessary to assume that one had a measurably larger impact on the other (nor is it correct, in my opinion). The fact that the Irish Revolution happened after the American is not sufficient to prove that it was dependent upon it. Between 1783 and 1798, the French Revolution also began, and was still underway in 1798. This revolution would likely have had a stronger impact on Irish rebels than the American, due to the temporal and geographic distance between them. Moreover, the arguement (made by other commenters) that 25% of the continental army was ethnically Irish does not convince me of Ireland’s effect on the United States. This 25% may have been ethnically Irish, but many of them must have thought of themselves as “American”, just as most American revolutionaries did, whether of Dutch, English, German, or Scandinavian descent. The man quoted as giving this statistic, Charles Neimeyer, goes on to assert that the majority of young Irish men who were recent immigrants and served in the army had chosen to do so for material reasons such as promises of land or pay, rather than a high-minded set of political ideals. For the most part, these men were acting as individuals, not as representatives of Ireland. To most of them, it mattered little that they were Irish, or that they were fighting for America, or that they were fighting against England. Their primary motivation was personal gain.

  • Dziennik’s article discusses some good points about the relationship between the Irish and the American Revolution, however, I believe that he underestimates the influence that the Irish had on the revolution in the colonies. As historian Charles Neimeyer states, old and new Irish immigrants accounted for 1/4 of the Continental Army. While Dziennik says “American resistance to Britain was transplanted to Ireland”, I disagree and believe that Irishmen had a longstanding resentment of the British before the American Revolution since they were Britain’s earliest colony.

  • After reading both Dziennik and Neimeyer, I believe that the influence could go both ways. The exposure between the American colonist and the Irishmen presented both groups to new people with varying ideas and beliefs. Perhaps the colonist had encouraged and inspired the Irish to act out on their feelings against great Britain and the Irish just waited for their time to strike. The Irish had to take in account many factors that the colonist didn’t, for example Ireland’s size is very small and far closer to Great Britain than America. Maybe the Irish saw the revolution in America as an experiment to see if newly formed army could take on a leading world power. However, a quarter of the Continental Army was Irishmen, so the colonist were exposed the ideas and beliefs of the Irishmen, be either entering the war strictly for personal gain from the material benefits the war provided or to act on the revenge they sought from Great Britain.

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