TO THE GOLDEN DOOR by George Potter
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Before his death George Potter was an editorial writer for the Providence Journal and a Pulitzer Prize winner. Subtitled The Story of the Irish in Ireland and America, this book, though concentrating on the Irish as a people, is political, economic and social history written with a penetration and verve that manages to capture the spirit and character of the Irish. George Potter was not of the school which would explain the Irish in mystical terms but at the same time he recognized that the Irishman, as a creature of emotions and feelings, defies explanation in purely sociological definitions. He begins this history with the formation of the Gaelic society shortly before 432 A.D. -- the coming of St. Patrick and of a conquest more enduring than any invasion whether Danish, Norman or English- and he ends as the 69th Regiment joins the Union forces at the beginning of the Civil War. He deals with the early Irish Church; the Scandinavian invasions of the eighth century; the barrenness of the Irish medieval Church; the Irish under the Tudors when Ireland became a nation; the power politics of the Reformation at the end of which England was victorious and Protestant, and Ireland was defeated and Catholic; the persecution under Cromwell when patriotism and Catholicism became synonymous and the clergy the recognized and accepted leaders of the Catholic Irish; the oppression of the landlords; and the early emigration in the 1820's. Possibly the most interesting part of the book is the account of what befell the Irish in America: why, as a group, they remained in the cities on the Atlantic coast; why they took the jobs they did- as domestics, on the police force, in the public works; how they were so aptly suited for politics; their civil liberties battles against the Know-Nothings and the Nativists; why the Irish were linked with the anti-Abolitionists; and their greatest collective achievement in the U.S. -- the building of the Church. There is virtually nothing which Potter has overlooked in this ambitious attempt to explore the nature of the Catholic Irish. The unfortunate fact is that this excellent work will not be followed by the concluding volume one would naturally expect.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1960
Publisher: Little, Brown