The Irish Hobo.
"The rise of the tramp army in the North redirected the debate over labor compulsion toward white, especially Irish, industrial workers. These workers, employers and legislators feared, seemed as indolent and determined to flout the wage system as their black counterparts in the South. By raising the specter of the 'professional tramp' who was, as one state legislative committee put it, 'bound to live without work,' the tramp crisis conjured fears that the Civil War's 'new birth of freedom' had shaded into an anarchic rebellion against wage labor. As a tramp 'Boss' profiled in the New York Times made clear, free labor meant the right not to work. 'Wurruck,' says the tramp in a thick Irish brogue after removing a 'villainous-looking clay pipe' from his lips, 'was made for niggers. I'm a white man born free.' Basing his own racialized sense of freedom on the subordination of African Americans, this media caricature captures at once prevailing stereotypes about 'savage' Celtic racial traits and the actual Irish ethnic strategy for claiming the privileges of whiteness. For the Irish, preserving the road as a domain of white men was one of these key privileges, even if it confirmed among elites that the Irish were a race apart, sharing the same vagrant characteristics as African Americans."
Citizen Hobo, How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America. (pp. 14-15, 20)
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|Title Annotation:||From other works; immigrants|
|Publication:||Irish Literary Supplement|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2006|
|Previous Article:||The elusive Edgeworth.|
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