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Can you imagine in your country 1,100,000 people dying from disease or starvation, in addition to one and a half million others desperately immigrating to other countries in an attempt to escape the overwhelming sickness and fatality? (AIrish Potato Famine@) Try to imagine the government that controls you and is responsible for your well being, almost totally neglecting to even acknowledge or take charge of this problem until it is too late. If one looks at Ireland from 1845 to 1849, this is exactly what happened when a potato famine struck the British ruled country. The relationship between England and Ireland reaches back more than 500 years, but never was the powerful and cruel domination of the British over the Irish more exhibited than during the terrible years of 1845 to 1849, when Britain used the Irish Potato Famine to commit genocide on a people they had tried to eradicate already for hundreds of years.
In the 1500's, England took control of Ireland, after a few hundred years of holding scattered areas of land across the country. King Henry VIII began the persecution of the Roman Catholics, which mostly all Irish people were. The Penal Laws, a group of laws restricting the freedom of the Roman Catholics attempted to pressure them into converting, but only succeeded in straining the lives of the Irish people. When the Penal Laws were put into effect, the Irish were stripped of their rights, including the right to vote, hold any public office, or own land. After the land was taken from the Roman Catholics, Britain it gave to wealthy English and Scottish Protestants. Although the majority of its people could not hold office, Ireland still had its own parliament up until the 1801. At that time the Act of Union was passed and Ireland merged with Great Britain to form the United Kingdom, thus dissolving Ireland=s parliament.
Ireland, because of its location and mineral-barren land, had never been a large trading country, nor had it been able to prosper from the industrialization of the 1800's, as most of Europe had. Nevertheless, the outlook for Ireland just before 1845 seemed fairly promising. Exportation of grain and other crops to Europe was growing and the linen industry was developing also. The population had been steadily rising, and an enormous class of agricultural laborer rose along with it. By 1845, the population had almost reached nine million. (Duffy) These developments mostly benefitted England though. Since most Irish could not own land, they rented homes from landlords and worked for small plots of land they used to grow potatoes for their family. Others that were farmers paid their landlords by animals or their crops produced. Potatoes were the main source of food for Irish peasant families, nearly one half of the total Irish population.
Since there were only one or two kinds of potatoes being grown, this genetically made the crop more vulnerable to disease or any type of infection wiping out an entire crop. This is exactly what happened in the summer of 1845. A fungus from North America, Phyophthora infestans, entered Ireland and in the unusually warm weather that summer, thrived. This fungus caused blights in potatoes that killed the leaves and roots of the vegetable before ever being picked out of the ground. In September of 1845, it killed about one third of the whole potato crop. The result was not only disease, but starvation, unemployment, and the economic collapse of a country.
Whole families suffered from epidemics such as typhus, cholera, and dysentery. People that were not sick, were starving and unemployed. When people could not pay their rent, land owners threw them out. This left multitudes of homeless and starved beggars crowding cities, and later, soup kitchens and work houses that were set up. The way the economy worked, the breakdown for the farmers and poor laborers w
Names mentioned in this term paper
John Russell, Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, Sir Charles Trevelyan, Irish peasant, Irish, King Henry VIII, Sir Robert Peel, Tony Blair, jobs, Taylor, Joseph Sramek,
Organizations talked about in this paper
Locations mentioned in this research material
the Irish, Britain, England, United States, Europe, Great Britain., Canada, North America, America, United Kingdom, London, New York,
Health Conditions included in this research paper
typhus, scurvy, dysentery, cholera,
Keywords mentioned in this research paper
Irish, Ireland, famine, Irish people, irish potato famine, crop, the irish potato famine, Lord John Russell, the famine, Roman Catholics, Charles Gavan Duffy, british prime minister, Sir Charles, potatoes, Great Britain, Penal Laws, England, British people, soup kitchens, disease, A J P Taylor, Prime Minister Tony Blair, poor people, United States, Sir Robert Peel, British Genocide, British government, British rule, landlords, crop failure, America, laissez faire, economic collapse, that summer, North America, grave mistake, Irishmen, mass graves, immigrating, main source, United Kingdom, hospitable, Trevelyan, social structure, typhus, starved, relief, free market, 1 million, free trade,