Main content

Title: P. Kennedy, Strasburg, Virginia to Vere Foster.
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileKennedy, P/8
SenderKennedy, P.
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationunknown
Sender ReligionProtestant
OriginStrasburg, Virginia, USA
Destinationprob. Belfast, N.Ireland
RecipientFoster, Vere
Recipient Gendermale
Relationshipre emigration
SourceD 3618/D/8/9a: Deposited by the Late Mrs A. C. May.
ArchiveThe Public Record Office, Northern Ireland.
Doc. No.9102033
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by JM 16:11:1993.
Word Count2039
Transcript Strasburg. Va. [Virginia?] U.S. America.
March 19th 1855.

Vere Foster Esqre

I see, by the Freeman's Journal,
you want some information for the use of
Emigrants, who may be inclined to come to this
country from Ireland, England, and Scotland.
I will give you an idea, as correct as I can.
This winter is the worst for labourers and
mechanics, they had for these last twenty years.
The labourers on the railroads, cannot make their
board money, as they can get only 75 cents per day,
and cannot work three days in the week during
winter, on an average. They have to pay $2-50c for
board per week, out of the above pay; consequently they
are mostly in debt. The contractors keep stores, and
the working men have to purchase there, at an
advance of 30 percent, and sometimes 50 over what they
could buy the same goods in the country stores. Some
of the contractors are an unprincipled set, and will
take every advantage of the poor man when wages are
low, and employment scarce, and will in fact skin
him, that is, he will have his work for half what
he can get it done in the summer. The spring is
near now, and the wages will improve to $1 or
perhaps to $1-12 1/2 cents, but provisions are very high at
present, and consequently board is high. In cities
board is $3 per week. Respectable persons ought never
come to this country, without a good deal of
money, as they have a good deal to suffer. The
hardworking man is wanted here, who is able to
handle the pick and shovel. Idlers cannot get along;
a good sensible labourer, will do well if he keep
from whiskey. _ I have seen many a labouring
man, who left Ireland with perhaps £1 in his
pocket who is now worth perhaps $30,000, but still
there is a heap of misery. Many a poor woman
I have seen on bended knees and uplifted hands
calling the curse of God on Irish Landlords, and
the British Government, who have driven them from
their homes to be kicked about in a foreign land,
where there is but little compassion for the poor
particularily [particularly?] of late, as there has been a storm raised
against them, that surpassed anything yet in this
country. This very storm was caused by a set of
Foreign Preachers, sent here from Scotland and England.

Foreign Scoundrels will go into the parts of cities,
inhabited by the Irish, and will commence a
crusade against their religion, then a fight
will commence, a person will be killed, directly
there is a cry raised against foreigners, and
it has turned out now against Protestant as
well as Papist, although it was first got up to
upset the Catholics. Scotland has sent more of
those scoundrels, and the English Bible Society
has sent the balance, the north of Ireland a
sample as bad and if not worse than the others.
The Editor of The New York Herald, owned and
edited by Bennett, the Scotchman has commenced
a tirade against adopted citizins [citizens?], worse than a
native American, and it is really a fact, that all the
Know-Nothing papers are edited by foreign preachers,
who do any kind of dirty work particularily [particularly?]
if it is directed against Catholics, but now it has
turned against all foreigners no matter what
creed they belong to. The Scotch Angel Gahiel did
his part of the work.
The poor man who comes here without
money is badly off, for here he cannot travel without
money, but once in employment, he can get along.
Travelling on railroads is very high; in Southern
States it is about 6 cents per mile and walk, a
working man cannot do, as he will get no place
to stop at except he meets an Irishman's place.
Canada, at present is a good place, a man can
get land cheap, but he must have money to keep
him 12 months, as he will have to wait 12 months
before he can raise anything on his farm. The
Western States are good as land is cheap, a
person can get a farm in Wisconsin for a few
dollars per acre. Illinois, the land is very low,
also Missonia land can be bought in Va. [Virginia?]
within 3 miles of Alexa [Alexandria?] for 30 dollars per acre, but
the land is not very good; the Western States are
the best. Servant girls can do well in this country,
they get from $6 to 7 and sometimes $8 per month; they
get easily $6 to 7 per month, - Houses are very high
in this country. You cannot get any kind of a house
less than $6 and sometimes $10 per month. Clothing
is very high, cannot get a good suit of clothes less
than $20, but a man can buy very cheap clothes in
Jews' stores that would do well. Fuel or firewood
is very high in cities, in fact everything is high
for a poor man. Mechanics have no chance of
getting employment in cities, as the Americans will

not work with them, and at present it is worse than
ever. Milliners are numerous, so are tailoresses, and
are poorly paid. Shoemakers can do nothing here
for some time, as they have to learn to work quick,
for here a bootmaker will make three pair of boots
per day, and you can buy boots cheaper here than in
The best thing a foreigner can do when he
comes to this country is to try to get a farm of
land, he can get that any day if he only
has money. Land is cheap every where, and
when he lands in New York, he will get
every information he wants from the Irish
Immigrant Society, no matter what country he
comes from; they have agreements made with
the Western railroads and Steamboats to carry
emigrants to the western country cheap. They can
get their ticket in the office, and they will be
protected from land sharks, who infest New York.
The northern and southern states are not
favourable to Immigrants, but if they have
friends before them, so much the better for them,
they can go at once to them, no matter whether
in the North, or South, or West. There is one class
of persons who receive countenance in England
and Ireland, and those very fellows will do
all in their power to enslave the poor Emigrant
who is white, while he does everything in his
power to raise funds to assist the slave that is
well fed and well clothed - I mean the Yankees.
Mrs Stowe & Co. who make money out of the Yankee
speculation, did not care if all the slaves in
America were in h__ [hell?], if she & Co, could fill their
pockets for their own private use. I have been in
Virginia for 4 1/2 years, and I say that the slave in Va. [Virginia?]
is better fed and better clothed than the poor Irish
farmer. Oh! it would be well for the Irish labourer
if he was half as well fed and taken care of as
the slave. The master has an interest in the slave,
if he is sick, he sends for the best doctor for him:
there may be a few bad masters, but compare
the conduct of bad masters with the conduct
of some of the Irish Landlords who will drive out
his tenant on the roadside to starve and perish
of hunger, or drive him to America among strangers
to drive a miserable existence, while the bad slave
holder will perhaps sell his slave to a good master.
Many is the curse that has been heaped on England,
by widows and orphans in this country for not

protecting the poor tenantry of Ireland from the
tyranny of the agent or bad landlord when they
(England) have the power of making laws to protect
them. I believe their prayers have been heard, and
England has been tottering to her foundations, and
I trust in God, the Russians will despatch the balance
of her army, so that she shall be left without a
soldier to assist the Irish murderers (Landlords) to
eject any more of the poor industrious Irish tenantry
out of the land of their birth, and put sheep and
cows to graze, where before lived happy and comfortable,
the poor family who had toiled to keep the landlord
in comfort. Many of the young scions have been
despatched by the Russian bayonet. I hope they
will despatch the balance. I do not include the
French army. No, they are too honourable in France.
Louis Napoleon Buonaparte [Bonaparte?] will not let the people
starve. The Yankees who go to Europe on speculation
to make money, talk about slaves and get many
ladies in England to give them money while
perhaps poor girls starving within a mile of their
place, and will not assist them, while the American
slave is well fed, well clothed, and taken care of.
The American slave will not work for his master
unless he gets bread, coffee, and meat three times
per day. This is a fact. I have seen it, and those are
the people that England gives so much money to
assist, while people are starving at their own doors.
There is as much difference between a Northern or
Yankee and a Southern slave-holder as there
is between a robber and an honest man. A Yankee
will do nothing except he will make money, or that
he will get money by it, and he is into any
speculation that he can make money, while the
Southern man is independent, and will not stoop
to any mean act. This is a fact, and the moment a
Yankee lands on English soil, he ought to be spurned
out of society, no matter what shape or garb he comes
in, whether a preacher or not, for they will enslave
the poor Emigrant, burn his house of worship, and
do everything in their power to injure him, in order
to forward their business, so it is in its respect to slaves,
if they can make money by it, they are into it, not for
the sake of the slave, but for the sake of lining their
pockets. If the hatred against foreigners continue, and
now it is on the increase, emigrants will have to
remain at home, and not come to this country - as
persecuted they will be here. - A man that wants to
purchase land in this country, should come himself

first, or send a friend, so that he could look, and
buy his farm, and have it ready for his family to go
into it. It will cost about $20 to go to the West from
New York, perhaps cheaper, if they take a deck passage,
it will not cost half so much.
I am afraid some of the above may be disagreeable
to you, - you may be an English Gentleman
by birth, or perhaps an Irish Landlord; one thing, I
believe you are an honest gentleman, who is trying
to assist poor emigrants, no matter what country they
are from, and that you have nothing to gain by your
trouble, except the prayers of some Irish woman, or man -
for an Irishman never forgets a good act done for
him. May God in his mercy reward you and your
family for the trouble you have taken on behalf of the
poor stranger who is looking for a home in this ungrateful
country, is the prayer of a poor ejected tenant of Ireland
from the land of my birth.
Respectfully - P. Kennedy.

P.S. The Boston Pilot, published in New York is a good weekly
paper, it is the organ of the Irish in this country, and has a circulation of
80,000 a week to all parts of the Union and has always letters from every
state giving the price of land & the best localities to buy, and everything
wanted by the Emigrant. It is owned and edited by P. Donaghue, and price
to Europe is only $3 per year - It is published in the city of Boston.