Blast From the Past: Immigrants

I came across this account of an eighteenth century Irish émigré’s voyage to the United States. It seems to me that people who endured such suffering then, as people who endure such suffering today, on account of their desire to come to America, have achieved the citizenship equivalent of what we Catholics call “baptism by desire.” This account is found in Jay Dolan’s The Irish Americans.

“One emigrant, whose voyage took nearly fifteen weeks under a ruthless captain, described some of the horrors of his journey in a letter to his father in Ireland: ‘Hunger and Thirst had now reduced our Crew to the last Extremity, nothing was now to be heard aboard our Ship but the Cries of distressed Children, and of their distressed Mothers, unable to relieve them. Our Ship now was truly a Spectacle of Horror! Never a Day passed without one or two of our Crew put over Board; many kill’d themselves by drinking Salt Water, and their own urine was a common Drink. Yet in the midst of all our Miseries, our Captain shewed not the least Remorse or Pity.’ When the ship finally reached the port of New Castle on the Delaware River, sixty-four of the emigrants and crew members had died.”

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg


NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017