essay .................... Turned Inside Out Black, White, and Irish in the South by Bryan Giemza He had seen, one morning as he was going to his work [in New Orleans], a negro carrying some mortar, when another negro hailed him with a loud laugh: "Hallo! you is turned Irishman, is 'ou?" --Frederick Law Olmsted, The Cotton Kingdom1 The widely recited claim that the Irish in the South were perhaps more misused than slaves is traceable to William Howard Russell (here, 1855), who wrote: "The labour of ditching, trenching, cleaning the waste lands, and hewing down the forests is generally done by Irish labourers . . . . Mr. Seal lamented the high prices of this work; but then, as he said, `It was much better to have Irish to do it, who cost nothing to the planter if they died, than to use up good field-hands in such severe employment.' " Photograph courtesy of the Collections of the Library of Congress. oel Ignatiev's How the Irish Became White, a book graced by a pithy name that summarizes its provocative thesis, has generated volumes of response. But relatively little of this body of criticism bears on the South, even
Southern Cultures – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Feb 5, 2012
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