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A History of the Catholic Church in the American South,
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James M. Woods

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813035321

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813035321.001.0001

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From Aliens to Confederates

From Aliens to Confederates

Catholics in the South, 1845–1865

(p.255) Eight From Aliens to Confederates
A History of the Catholic Church in the American South, 1513–1900

James M. Woods

University Press of Florida

Two episodes in the career of Fr. Jeremiah O'Neill illustrate the progression of feelings regarding the Irish in Savannah and much of the South. At first regarded as dangerous aliens, welcomed only to perform hard manual labor too dangerous to be carried out by African slaves, on the eve of the Civil War these Irish were needed as future allies in the South's coming struggle for independence. Ireland's influx was so massive in the United States that, after 1840, these immigrants became the face of Catholicism to Americans, North and South. How the Irish were first viewed as aliens and then became Confederates in one of the truly amazing episodes in southern history. However, natives of the Emerald Isle had migrated to the South long before the 1840s.

Keywords:   Jeremiah O'Neill, Savannah, South, Civil War, independence, Ireland, United States, Catholicism, aliens, Confederates

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