Mollie Maguires: Movie Compari Essay, Research Paper

Lance Fulton

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Molly Maguires:

Movie Comparison

On October 27, 1873, a adult male naming himself James McKenna emerged

from a train at the station in Port Clinton, a little community on the

southern boundary line of Pennsylvania & # 8217 ; s Schuylkill County. It was coal-mining

state, a unsmooth portion of the universe enduring from the effects of what one

newspaper had called a & # 8220 ; reign of panic & # 8221 ; orchestrated by a shadowy

organisation dubbed the Molly Maguires. Since 1862 the Mollies had been

blamed for legion slayings, whippings, knifings, armed robberies, and

incidents of incendiarism. The narrative of the Molly Maguires is a good known section

of the history of industrialisation in the United States. In 1970, Sean

Connery starred in a movie called The Molly Maguires, in which he played Jack

Kehoe, the lead Mollie, face-to-face to Richard Harris James McKenna. The

comparing between the movie and the existent existent life events will be the subject

of this paper. Whether or non the movie accurately portrays the Molly

maguires as they truly were, though, is non the cardinal involvement here. Of

primary concern is the ways in which the movie describes the predicament of Irish

immigrants to the coal mines of Pennsylvania ; how accurately does it portray

the narrative behind the Mollies? This terrorist group did non look overnight ;

it was created. Therefore, they must hold been created for a ground, and

this is the focal point of the probe.

In order to understand the factors that led to the formation of the

Molly Maguires, one must understand something about the lives of the

people that comprised the Mollies: Irish immigrants. This is best

accomplished by first taking a expression at the grounds for the monolithic figure of

Irish to immigrates to the U.S. in the 19th century. From 1820 to

1920, over four and a one-fourth million Irish immigrants came to the United

States. One cause for this inordinately heavy out-migration, was the

changeless force per unit area of population on the resources of the Emerald Isle, for in

Ireland the denseness of population was greater than in any other state of

Western Europe.

The dominant industry of Ireland was agribusiness. It was under the

control of an nobility, many of whom were absentee landlords who

rented their land to tonss of little husbandmans or cottars ; who, in bend, farmed

with the most antediluvian implements and backward methods. As a consequence,

Ireland witnessed a progressive impairment of its agrarian category, from 1815,

to well past the center of the century. Taxation, finance, and the tribunals were

under the control of the landed nobility. The normal pay in Ireland was

tanner a twenty-four hours, including one repast ; and eightpence a twenty-four hours without nutrient. The

nutrient of the provincial, in his happiest and most comfortable times, consisted of

nil more than murphies, a small milk, and on occasion, fish. Meat was so

scarce that many households ne’er saw it from one twelvemonth to the following. The

peasant s hut, in which he normally reared a big brood of kids, was

filthy, moistness, cold, and smoky. It had but one room to house the whole

household ; which, at least in some cases, included the household hog. 1

Education, even of the most fundamental kind, was impossible for

100s of households. Drinking, and its natural concomitant, rioting,

constituted the prevalent expletive of the Irish people. The slums of Dublin were

ill-famed for poorness, disease, and crud in the early decennaries of the

1 MacManus, Seumas. The Story of the Irish Race: a popular history of Ireland, Rev. ed. , ( Old Greenwich,

Conn. : Devin-Adair, 1992, c1966 ) , 87-145.

19th century. If one adds to these straitening conditions, development

by a foreign power, England ; and the denial of political privileges to the

native Irish ; and the load of paying tithes for the support of a Church

constitution which Irish Catholics hated, it is obvious why Ireland was a

fertile recruiting land for immigrants in the 19th century, and why

the immigrant tide to the United States could non be stopped once it had

begun to flux. 2 Between 1815 and 1830, the more significant husbandmans

constituted the majority of the Irish in-migration to America. After that day of the month, the

inundation Gatess were unfastened to all.

The Irish emigre trade truly began in the old ages 1816 and 1817.

From 6,000 to 9,000 Irish sailed for America in each of these old ages. In

1818, the figure more than doubled. Vessels began to be chartered for the

specific intent of transporting emigres ; although, as a general pattern,

vass that had brought American ladings of cotton or lumber to Ireland,

departed with human ladings for the return ocean trip. In 1827, the Irish

in-migration to America reached 20,000. By 1831 and 1832, it exceeded

65,000. After 1835, with the exclusion of 1838, there were ne’er less than

30,000 Irish traversing the Atlantic in any one twelvemonth. In 1842, the sum reached

92,000. 3

2 Ibid. , 147.

3 Bimba, Anthony. The Molly Maguires. 1932: International Publishers, 1950.

Potato dearths had ever meant catastrophe for a population such as

Ireland s, which invariably bordered so near on famishment. There had been

dearths before 1845, but that twelvemonth marked the beginning of a sequence of

cold, moist summers ; with the end point murphy putrefaction ; a works disease which

destroyed practically the whole harvest. Pestilence, febrility, famishment and decease

descended upon the Irish countryside, and about one 4th of the

population succumbed. Relief ships from America provided small assistance. The

figures for the period of the Irish dearth in-migration mounted to galvanizing

sums: 1846= 92,484 ; 1847= 196,224 ; 1848= 173,744 ; 1849= 204,771 ;

1850= 206,041. 4

The nose count of 1850 reported 961,719 Irish in the United States ; by

1860, the sum had reached 1,611,304.5 These were to be found in greatest

Numberss in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio, and New

Jersey. An organisation in Philadelphia, in six months, collected $ 48,000 in

hard currency, and $ 20,000 worth of articles ; and sent seven alleviation ships to Ireland.

American Protestant churches appealed for assistance for the afflicted Irish.6 At the

same clip, those interested in advancing in-migration, circulated circulars,

and maintained agents in the chief towns of Ireland. Hope inspired the

voyagers across the Atlantic, but for many, it vanished like the rainbow,

when the existent conditions of life in America had to be faced. Almost all Irish

immigrants had to get down in the United States as unskilled labour, and most

ne’er made it any farther than that.

4 MacManus, 150-2.

5 Bimba, 98.

6 Ibid. , MacManus.

Although 80 % of the immigrating Irish had a background in agriculture,

merely 6 % farmed in America. Alternatively, Irish immigrants sought occupations in the

coal mines, where they found the cultural integrity and feeling of community that

they desired. English and particularly Welsh mineworkers brought a high degree of

accomplishment and experience to the mines. Each of these mineworkers was assigned several

unskilled labourers to assist with motion of supplies and delving. These

unskilled places were the 1s filled by the Irish.7

The proprietor of the mine would about ever own the coal spot,

including the mineworkers & # 8217 ; places and the shops where they bought their

supplies. The mineworkers were forced to populate in the company houses and purchase

from the company shops, where monetary values were at least 20 per centum higher

than in private shops.8 The unskilled mine labourers would, because of

hyperbolic supply costs, complete a wage period in debt to the mine proprietor. This

pattern of blow uping costs and maintaining the mineworkers in debt allowed operators

to maintain the mineworkers from striking or go forthing to fall in another company.

The Irish labourer in the in-between 19th century often found

himself in troubles because of unblushing development and bad working

conditions, and because of the bitterness harbored against him by indigen

Americans who feared his competition ; although seemingly few Americans

had any wish to make the heavy, dirty, unskilled labour that fell to the batch of the

7 Kenny, Kevin. Making Sense of the Molly Maguires. New York: Oxford UP, 1998, 42.

8 Bimba, 98-102.

Irishman with his choice and shovel. Irish stevedores were employed at

the docks in all the taking sea and Lake Ports. They bitterly resented the

invasion of the Negroes, who were frequently brought in expressly to deject the

pay graduated table. Riots between Irish and Negro dock workers were non

infrequent. It is this economic competition that helps to explicate the strong

ill will of the Irish toward the abolitionist motion, and the New York

bill of exchange public violences during the Civil War.9

In the 1840 s and 1850 s, small & # 8220 ; Dublins & # 8221 ; sprang up in the mill

towns of New England and in the Middle Atlantic provinces, for the Irish were

occupying the factory centres. The Irish population of Boston tripled in a decennary.

Frequently, the factory population was the residue from the labour supply that had

delve the canals, or constructed the millrun. In Rhode Island, for illustration,

the first Irish factory workers were recruited from those who had built the

railway between Providence and Boston, and the Woonsocket Irish Catholic

colony was due to the building of the Blackstone Canal. Irishmans

went into the factory towns of Pawtucket and the & # 8220 ; coal pits & # 8221 ; between Fall River

and Newport.10

In add-on to the fiscal and societal jobs confronting all unskilled

labourers, the Irish faced farther troubles due to prejudice. Although they

were great subscribers to the industrialisation of America, the Irish Catholic

9 Ibid.

10 Coleman, James Walter. The Molly Maguire Riots: Industrial Conflict in the Pennsylvania Coal Region.

Capital of virginia: Garrett & A ; Massie, 1936, 17-25.

were treated with contempt by the largely Protestant & # 8220 ; native & # 8221 ; population of

the country. The Irish were called a & # 8220 ; monolithic ball in the community,

undigested, undigestible & # 8221 ; . Riots often broke out between Protestants

and the Catholic fledglings.

Increasingly, it was the Irish in general, non merely the Catholics, who

were persecuted. The Irish received a repute for being drunken and

quick to force, and the newspapers of the center of the last century are

full of in writing histories of their bloody conflicts. After reading the many

histories of brawling and combat among Irish workmans that appear in the

American newspapers, one becomes cognizant of the fact that non all the problem

was due to the Irishman s aggressive disposition, his love for the bottle,

or his belief that quarrelsomeness is the spice of life. Much of this rioting was

the consequence of unbearable labour conditions. The bash were frequently attempts,

nevertheless misguided and unwise, to accomplish an betterment in labour

criterions at a clip when the labour motion had barely begun. There were

work stoppages for higher rewards on internal betterment undertakings, many of which

led to a show of force, peculiarly when contractors subsequently refused to

esteem the understandings they had been forced to accept.

The Anthracite coal parts of Pennsylvania had a mushroom growing in

the 1830 s, with immigrant labour, hapless lodging installations, and all the immoralities of

company towns and company shops as natural accompaniments of this rapid

enlargement. The part suffered from the immoralities of overdevelopment, and

frequent concern slacks, which weighed particularly to a great extent upon the Irish

coal mineworkers. Working conditions in the mines were awful ; with no safety

demands, review, or proper airing. From 1839 to 1848, rewards

were $ 1.00 to $ 1.25 a twenty-four hours for mineworkers, and 82 cents a twenty-four hours for ordinary

labourers. In 1869, a extremum of $ 18.20 a hebdomad was reached, but by 1877, the

pay had declined once more to $ 9.80 a hebdomad. & # 8220 ; Breaker boys & # 8221 ; , aged 7 to 16,

worked like slaves in the surfs under mine foremans whose character left

much to be desired.11

The Irish Catholics were, of class, excluded from benevolent

societies, so they began to organize organisations of their ain to assist

immigrants adjust to America. These organisations were for the most portion

& lt ;< p>populace, since societies necessitating curses of secretiveness were officially forbidden by

the Catholic Church. However, as the persecution grew worse, secretiveness

became necessary and the one time peaceable societies began to contend back. The

form of violent revenge was excessively much a portion of Irish civilization for anything

else to hold happened.

Irish benevolent societies were formed to cover with some of these

jobs. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, a semi-secret organisation,

became the anchor of the mineworkers brotherhoods. In a really long narrative of existent category

war, the duty for force in the Pennsylvania coal Fieldss seems to

be reasonably good divided. By 1860, the Mollie Maguires terrorized the whole

Anthracite part ; elected sheriffs and constables, and resorted to arson,

blackmail, and murder.12 The organisation was non eventually broken up until

1877, when, because of the detective work of James McParlan, 19 were

hanged after tests held in an ambiance of great exhilaration and bias.

11 Ibid. , Bimba.

12 O Dea, John. History of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Ladies Auxiliary. 3 vols. Philadelphia:

Keystone Printing Co. , 1923, vol.2, 866-69.

The incident, for a long clip, blackened the record of Irish-Americans, and

many refused to see the industrial conditions which had provoked such

condemnable action. Furthermore, it must be added that the better elements

among the Irish population denounced the Mollie Maguires, peculiarly the

Church, which threatened the leaders of this organisation with


The anti-Irish sentiments of the community ensuing from Irish

force made them an easy mark for political critics. In 1857, & # 8220 ; Miners & # 8217 ;

Journal & # 8221 ; publisher Bannan accused Irish Catholic organisations of vote in

the 1856 presidential elections as a block. He besides commented on the 55

indictments of voting inspectors in Philadelphia. & # 8220 ; Every one of these

inspectors were Irishmen, belonging no uncertainty to the order of & # 8216 ; Molly

Maguires & # 8217 ; & # 8230 ; . & # 8221 ; This publication marked the first clip the eastern

Pennsylvania coal mines saw the term in print. Sleepers and Bird shots

would go alternate names for this alleged organization.13 The Molly

Maguires he referred to were surely the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a

benevolent association founded by the anomic Irish Catholics.

The anti-conscription public violences of 1872 would besides be attributed to the

Molly Maguires. The Irish coal mineworkers felt, possibly right, that the Civil

War was a & # 8220 ; rich adult male & # 8217 ; s war and a hapless adult male & # 8217 ; s fight. & # 8221 ; Adding to their expostulation

to the war was the belief that the rich work forces of the North were trusting to convey

Blacks to the coal mines where they would work for lower rewards. Already

viing with other immigrants and against bias, it is apprehensible

13 Kenny, 88.

that the Irish coal mineworkers would non be eager to give their lives for a cause

that could merely ache them.14

Benjamin Bannan, the muster officer in Schuylkill County, was

able to register work forces for the bill of exchange without much problem, but when it was clip

for the draftees to go, a rabble of 5,000 work forces formed to halt them and

offered to protect the work forces that did non wish to go forth. President Lincoln was

tidal bore to hold the jurisprudence & # 8220 ; at least to look to hold been executed & # 8221 ; , so Bannan

forged documents that would do it look as if the county & # 8217 ; s quota had been

filled by enrollment in other subdivisions of the county. The drafting of military personnels

would once more be halted by mineworkers in 1863, when a federal muster act

was passed. Following lay waste toing public violences in New York City, functionaries were

uneasy about enforcement of the bill of exchange in Schuylkill County. It was reported

that an ground forces of 2,000 to 3,000 mineworkers, drilled daily, fixing to defy the

bill of exchange. This organisation threatened to fire houses and coal mines owned by

Republicans and gave & # 8220 ; prophylactic & # 8221 ; notices to prominent work forces including

Benjamin Bannan. This incident was one of hapless work forces forming as a political

protest, and although their methods were in no manner peaceful, and the work forces

should hold been punished, the public violences were non the work of a secret terrorist

society as Bannan alleged.15

During and after the Civil War the Molly Maguires became a more

normally used term in the & # 8220 ; Miners & # 8217 ; Journal & # 8221 ; to mention to retaliatory offenses by

the Irish. Later on, historiographers would impute 12 or more violent deaths between

14 Kenny, 81-4.

15 Coleman, 43-5.

1860 and 1862 to the Mollies, but the first violent death that would play a function in

the coming tests took topographic point in June of 1862. A 4th of July jubilation was

being planned in Carbon County when Irish mineworker Jack Kehoe tongue on the

American Flag. F. W. Langdon, a chief who was responsible for accepting

or rejecting a mineworker s coal, was speedy to trade name the adult male a treasonist. Kehoe was

heard to state the words, You son of a bitch, I ll kill you. Subsequently, the mine

chief was badly beaten and died the following day.i6 There were no apprehensions

made at the clip and the slaying would be one of many unresolved instances

attributed to the Molly Maguires. Langdon was murdered, probably by Kehoe

and his friends, but it was a simple act of revenge by mineworkers who felt the

chief had cheated them.17

The violent death of George K. Smith, a mine proprietor reasonably popular with the

skilled labourers, would besides be attributed to the Mollies. Smith was a just

operator, but worked the work forces hard. His aggressors were most likely angered

by the fact that Smith had invited bill of exchange enforcement officers to his place.

Work force with blackened faces forced their manner into his place on November 5,

1863. There they rapidly ended his life with a shooting to the caput. Several of

the alleged aggressors were arrested, but subsequently freed by a rabble. They would

non be tried for 14 old ages. With all the force in the country at the clip, it was

unlikely that a proper constabulary probe took topographic point even then.18

16 Ibid. , 40.

17 Kenny, 85.

18 Ibid. , 85-6.

After the Civil War, force in the coal countries rose to even higher

rates. The combination of increased anthracite demand and the scarceness of

labour due to war service inflated the coal mineworkers & # 8217 ; rewards to possibly the best

in the state. The decision of the war caused a crisp ruin in demand

for all concerns, and affected the coal mines with lay waste toing force. Monetary values

dropped at a arresting rate and mineworkers & # 8217 ; rewards followed suit. Miners who had

been let travel during this clip were joined by war veterans returning place.

Unemployment and hence force climbed to pre-war levels.19

The concern caused by the increased force, particularly against coal

excavation functionaries prompted the constitution of the Coal and Iron Police in

1866. Permission for the establishment of this particular constabulary force was granted

by the province legislative assembly with the purpose that the force would protect

private belongings from hooliganism and sabotage. The & # 8220 ; police officers & # 8221 ; were hired,

paid, and hence wholly controlled by the coal companies. This private

force would be the 1 that made many of the apprehensions that would take to the

Molly Maguire executings. The coal companies were given the power to

arrest the work forces that troubled them, and used this power to its fullest


The autumn in coal monetary values confronted the mine proprietors with a really existent deficiency

of financess. The Eagle Colliery attempted to put to death a 10 per centum wage cut but,

in January, 1868, the mineworkers struck. The mine proprietors could non afford to

19 Ibid. , 96-102.

20 Ibid. , 107-9.

allow the other mines to go on working while the Eagle was non in

operation, so the operators were forced to follow with the mineworkers & # 8217 ; wants.

The work stoppage itself was non of import, but it led to the formation of the

Workingman & # 8217 ; s Benevolent Association under the leading of John Siney.

The new brotherhood was plagued by jobs. The northern mineworkers and southern

workers of the Schuylkill country were viing for concern. Although leaders

from both countries agreed on paper to back up each other & # 8217 ; s work stoppages, misgiving

and personal greed prevented the integrity so desperately needed. In 1871 the

southern and northern Fieldss eventually agreed to strike together. The operators

were unable to transport out any coal and thirstily accepted the mineworkers & # 8217 ; footings.

Franklin B. Gowen, nevertheless, ensured that the mineworkers & # 8217 ; minute of victory

was a short one.21

Gowen had been elected Attorney General during the period of

force in the early 1860s. He failed to prosecute many of the offenses

because the Irish had been major protagonists of the Democratic ballot he was

elected on. He retired from political relations in 1864 and became the legal manager of

the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, shortly to lift in rank and caput the

full operation.22

Gowen tried for many old ages to steal a clause leting his railway to

purchase coal lands into unrelated statute law, but the clauses were spotted

and stricken by the anti-monopoly senators of the clip. A measure was eventually

passed to let Gowen to keep the lands but under questionable

21 Ibid. , 116-17.

22 Ibid. , 137-49.

fortunes. The clause Gowen had placed within the measure was removed in

a forenoon ballot by a ballot of 17 to 15. Another ballot was called in the

afternoon and three of the senators opposed to the measure were absent while

another had reversed his ballot. The measure so necessary to Gowen & # 8217 ; s programs

passed under conditions that strongly suggest that Gowen worked this

miracle himself, with payoffs. The program succeeded and while the increased

conveyance monetary values devastated mine operators, Gowen bought land at an

incredible rate. By 1875, he owned 150 square stat mis of hard coal excavation

land, which amounted to 80 per centum of the Schuylkill and 1/3 of the full

coal field. The Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company was born.

His fright of the Molly Maguires perchance interrupting his coal monopoly spread

to his investors, who were besides powerful in the community.23

Franklin Gowen approached detective Allan Pinkerton during October of

1873. The Pinkerton Agency was already celebrated for their work towards

capturing criminal in the West. Pinkerton recorded in his journal that Gowen

told him: & # 8220 ; & # 8230 ; we want people to kip unthreatened, unmolested, in their

beds, & # 8230 ; we want the laboring-men & # 8230 ; protected in their right to procure

nutriment for their married womans and small 1s & # 8230 ; & # 8221 ; 24 The records of the Ancient

Order of Hibernians, an established Irish secret society, frequently accused of

being Molly Maguires, quoted Gowen rather otherwise.

I want you to direct a adult male & # 8230 ; to fall in the Mollie Maguires and go its

leader. & # 8230 ; I want him to precipitate work stoppages & # 8230 ; and do the lives of the

23 Ibid.

24 Ibid. , 154.

mine directors a load. I want him to take sets against the

English, Welsh and German mineworkers and mine foremans, round and kill

them off, until the pits will be unable to run for privation of competent


Although neither quotation mark likely records the exact words of Gowen, the

latter records feelings more appropriate to his anterior actions.

The Molly Maguires were created out of necessity. It was non the

unruly, bibulous Irishmen that created them though, it was people like

Gowen and Bannon with their political relations and greed. With the laissez-faire

economic system that allowed people like Gowen to go boundlessly affluent in the

absence of authorities intercession, came the demand for a societal remedy. As

far as the movie goes, it was reasonably accurate in its portraiture of the adversities

that coal mineworkers endured every twenty-four hours, and it provided a glance of the

dictatorial ambiance that plagued 19th century industry. Although

the movie portrayed the Mollies every bit guilty as snake pit, it did carry through the undertaking of

relaying the message of the remarkably rough lifestyle Irish immigrants were

forced to digest. 26 Even though it did non cover excessively much with the history

behind the formation of the Mollies, it intimated that a distinguishable history was

decidedly at that place.

25 Ibid. , O Drug Enforcement Administration.

26 Zaniello, Tom. Workers, Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds and Riffraff: An organized usher to shoot about labour.

Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1996, 165.

Written by

I'm Colleen!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out