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Global Dimensions of Irish IdentityRace, Nation, and the Popular Press, 1840-1880$
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Cian T. McMahon

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469620107

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469620107.001.0001

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Battling the Anglo-Saxon Myth

Battling the Anglo-Saxon Myth

Irish Identity in the Antebellum United States, 1848–1861

(p.77) Chapter Three Battling the Anglo-Saxon Myth
Global Dimensions of Irish Identity

Cian T. McMahon

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter looks at the contours of Irish American racial discourse between the arrival of the first Young Irelanders in the late 1840s to the United States and the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. It challenges the truism that the Irish, in assimilating themselves in American society, had cut ties with their homeland and adopted a white identity, thus ceasing to be “Green.” As a matter of fact, American Anglo-Saxonism constituted a greater threat to these migrants than any alleged lack of whiteness. Rather than seek to become Saxon, however, Irish immigrants expanded the boundaries of American citizenship by depicting themselves as members of what one exile termed a proud and noble “world-wide race” of Celts.

Keywords:   Irish American nationalism, racial discourse, Civil War, American Anglo-Saxonism, Celts, American citizenship, Irish immigrants

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