Lincoln and the Irish
The Untold Story of How the Irish Helped Abraham Lincoln Save the Union
- 224 Pages
- March 6, 2018
- ISBN: 9781510736344
- Imprint: Skyhorse Publishing
- Trim Size: 6in x 9in
An unprecedented narrative of the relationship that swung the Civil War.
When Pickett charged at Gettysburg, it was the all-Irish Pennsylvania 69th who held fast while the surrounding regiments broke and ran. And it was Abraham Lincoln who, a year earlier at Malvern Hill, picked up a corner of one of the Irish colors, kissed it, and said, “God bless the Irish flag.”
Lincoln and the Irish untangles one of the most fascinating subtexts of the Civil War: Abraham Lincoln’s relationship with the men and women coming to America to escape the Irish famine.
Renowned Irish-American journalist Niall O’Dowd gives unprecedented insight into a relationship that began with mutual disdain. Lincoln saw the Irish as instinctive supporters of the Democratic opposition, while the Irish saw the English landlord class in Lincoln’s Republicans. But that dynamic would evolve, and the Lincoln whose first political actions included intimidating Irish voters at the polls would eventually hire Irish nannies and donate to the Irish famine fund. When he was voted into the White House, Lincoln surrounded himself with Irish staff, much to the chagrin of a senior aide who complained about the Hibernian cabal. And the Irish would repay Lincoln’s faith—their numbers and courage would help swing the Civil War in his favor, and among them would be some of his best generals and staunchest advocates.
"In these times when some would make of America a cold house for emigrants, Niall O’Dowd has done well to remind us of how the greatest American icon, Abraham Lincoln, changed from a position of suspicion of Irish immigrants to one of gratitude and deep regard for them. As the book reveals, he was deeply touched by their outstanding role in his life and by their sacrifices in his battle to preserve the fragile flower of democracy."—Tim Pat Coogan, historian and best-selling author of The IRA, Michael Collins, and Wherever Green is Worn
Lincoln and the Irish is an impressive work of scholarship that will be studied by Lincoln fans, Irish and American History buffs, and students of democracy. It also reads like a great historical novel that will engage any reader who picks it up. Niall O’Dowd has burrowed into the archives and presented us with a fast-paced narrative populated with wonderful historical characters such as the Confederate priest Fr. Patrick Bannon, the great Union Generals Meagher and Corcoran, and the Irish transgender Union Hero Albert Cashier/Jennie Hodgers. Underpinning these wonderful stories of Irish and Irish American heroes, heroines, and villains is the complex relationship between Lincoln and the millions of Irish who found refuge from famine and oppression in America, and who helped the Great Emancipator defeat slavery and cement America’s democracy. This is not only an important book but as engrossing a read as I’ve come across in a long time. “—Terry George, Oscar-winning writer and director of Hotel Rwanda, In the Name of the Father, and Some Mother’s Son