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CIRCULAR OF THE IRISH EMIGRANT SOCIETY
TO THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND.
NEW-YORK, 22nd February, 1844.
THE period of the year usually selected by persons preparing to emigrate from Ireland to the United States being again at hand, the officers of the Irish Emigrant Society, in conformity with the course adopted in the two preceding years, deem it an imperative duty to issue to their fellow-countrymen, this year, another address.
The thoughtlessness and improvidence with which thousands of the poorer classes of Irishmen rush to the United States, relinquishing, too frequently, their scanty allotment of comfort in their old homes, in the illusive hope of bettering their condition, constrain us to renew our expostulations against a step, which, if inconsiderately taken, may entail on the unfortunate exiles misery and destitution to an extent that, when too late, is found to be irreparable-irremediable. Persons are too prone to imagine, that if they once have foothold in the United States, their future course must be onward-their career unchequered by vicissitude. But such consummation is rarely attainable, except by those endued with the qualifications requisite to insure success. America is not the place for mere adventurers. A man, to succeed here, must be fitted for some available pursuit. He should not come
without a definite object, and whatever it be, he should be provided with the means of placing himself in the position most favorable for its attainment. A good artizan or mechanic, equipped with the implements requisite for his trade or vocation, will rarely fail of obtaining employ. ment. A practical agriculturist, furnished with a moderate sum of money, may easily obtain a snug farm, or, if enterprising, a few hundred acres of land, that will soon requite, a hundred fold, any investment laid out with ordinary circumspection.
Farm laborers should not venture to the United States unless they are able to command, after having defrayed the expenses incident to the voyage, a few pounds, to enable them to proceed, immediately on their arrival, into the interior of the country. When they arrive without some money, they are frequently exposed to grievous hardships. Their inexpertness usually precludes all chance of obtaining employment in the large cities. Many are the instances that have occurred, where such ill-fated exiles, after having exhausted the liberality of individual benevolence, were compelled to resort to the public charities of our cities for a precarious subsistence.
Clerks, teachers, and persons who expect to find employment in the counting-houses of merchants, or in the shops of smaller traders, are invariably disappointed. They had better endure privations at home than incur the almost inevitable risk of encountering them here.
If all, preparing to emigrate, will carefully regard the requisitions we have indicated, much individual misery will be prevented, and we shall be spared the annual infliction of witnessing hundreds of our fellow-beings, endued with physical and intellectual capacity, pining away in the prime of their manhood, from utter inability to procure the scantiest means of subsistence.
This country is rapidly recovering from the prostration to which we last year invited attention; and the existence of which, at that time, formed a prominent topic in our address. Great works of public improvement, that had then been suspended, are now in course of resumption. The agricultural and manufacturing interests of the country are in a prosperous condition, and all industrial pursuits participate in the renovating influence engendered by the gratifying resuscitation in these great laboratories of National wealth. But notwithstanding these inducements, and we are not disposed to underrate them, the enterprising emigrant must take heed, that he hold in view and strictly observe the requisitions we have offered for his guidance. If a perverse fatuity prompt him to distrust and reject the advice, which, impelled by a disinterested regard for his welfare, our experience proposes for his acceptance, the disappointment that may ensue will then furnish a theme for painful self-reproach.
Ours is not an Eleemosynary Society. We control no pecuniary resources. To impart wholesome advice to our countrymen to protect them from frauds and imposition -to direct them to the sections of country where they would be most likely to find employment adapted to their capacity, and opportunities of advantageous investment— to secure them from loss in the transmission of the moneys, which the emigrants from Ireland are preeminently conspicuous for remitting to aged parents and indigent relatives in their old homes-were the objects, for the accomplishment of which, the Irish Emigrant Society had been specifically instituted. That they have been faithfully fulfilled, is attested by the liberal donation assigned to it, last year, by the municipal authorities of the city, and by the concurrent testimony implied in the support derived from many of our most respected fellow-citizens.
The grievous frauds, that, previous to the existence of
the Society, were constantly practiced toward emigrants are now rarely perpetrated; and, when attempted and brought under the notice of the Society, their authors are invariably exposed, and if sufficient evidence be attainable, they are arraigned before the judicial tribunals.
The Executive Committee confidently assert, that all the preventive and remedial measures, embraced within the scope of their plan, have been accomplished on this side the Atlantic. They are now impelled to make a public appeal to the benevolence and philanthropy of the friends of the emigrant, of the lovers of justice, and of the friends of humanity in general, in their beloved fatherland, to organize societies, or to adopt some measures to protect their emigrating countrymen against the atrocious wrongs and heartless villainy practiced toward them at the port of Liverpool. From the facilities presented in the punctuality of their departure, and the superior accommodations provided for steerage passengers, the unrivalled packet-ships that ply between this port and Liverpool, obtain from passengers a merited preference over all other conveyances. But the steerage accommodation on board these vessels is usually purchased by shipping agents, who drive the best bargain they can with the applicants for berths. Many respectable men have embarked in this business; but others also have engaged in it, who, callous to every better instinct impressed on the human heart, outrage all feelings of decency-every sentiment of humanity-in their treatment of passengers.
Emigrants from Ireland, whose passages have been prepaid by kind friends and relatives in this country, have been frequently detained at Liverpool for weeks after the period designated for the sailing of the ships, when transient vessels were engaged for the purpose. It has also repeatedly happened, that those who wished to reach, and had secured a passage to a particular port, have been put
on board vessels bound to one very remote from that they desired to reach. For instance-persons wishing, and expecting to be landed at New-York, have been placed on board vessels bound to Boston, Philadelphia, or Baltimore, and vice versa. Toward those of slender means, this is a cruel artifice-a species of gratuitous robberyyet it has been perpetrated by dishonest shipping agents and owners of vessels, to evade giving the bonds or paying the commutation money required by our municipal laws, to compensate for the maintenance of foreign paupers.
The competition among the shipping agents at Liverpool is so great, that it has been found expedient to engage runners to pick up passengers. The fellows employed for this purpose are usually a set of arrant knaves, that are wont to practice the most egregious deception on guileless and credulous emigrants. Poor fellows! at the very moment of their final departure from their native land, under circumstances peculiarly inducive to excite sympathy and commiseration, have been fleeced of the little money they had, by being told that sovereigns and other British coin could not be passed here; by means of this infamous device, for their good gold and silver, they have often palmed off on them either counterfeit bills, or those of American banks that had long since failed. These are but a few of the wrongs perpetrated. They are exposed to many other outrageous annoyances, for which, in their unfriendly and isolated position, they are without the means of redress. The British government, we are aware, employ agents to superintend their embarkation; but the inefficient manner in which government stipendiaries ordinarily perform the duties assigned to them, is too notorious to require comment.
The Irish Emigrant Office is situated at No. 62 Goldstreet, and Emigrants, before they leave home, should be