Ireland, Philadelphia and the re-invention of America, 1760–1800


Maurice Bric

Hardback €49.50
Catalogue Price: €55.00
Limited stock – only 2 copies remaining
ISBN: 978-1-84682-089-2
October 2008. 364pp.

'Maurice Bric’s masterful Ireland, Philadelphia and the Re-invention of America, 1760–1800 argues cogently for the role that transplanted members of the United Irishmen in Philadelphia played to influence fellow immigrants from Ireland to subscribe to Jefferson’s principles of republicanism … Bric builds his case solidly … Bric’s text is expertly researched and contains a well stocked appendix which provides sound empirical data to support his broad thematic strokes … many of the book’s primary sources are derived from period journals and periodicals which display a wide cross-Atlantic geographical spread … For students of Irish emigration of the period, as well as the early years of the "American" experiment, [this book] is an essential and fundamentally important work', Charles Travis, Irish Geography (March 2010).

‘These are complicated and tricky waters but Bric handles the different sources, characters and events on both sides of the Atlantic with skill and paints an engaging portrait of a time when Ireland and America were more closely entwined than at any time since’, Books Ireland (Summer 2008).

‘Bric presents a wealth of information about Irish migration’s causes, its magnitude and processes, and about the migrant’s social and political activities in Pennsylvania from the 1760s to the end of the century. His major focus however, is the “new Irish” who arrived after American independence, in the 1780s and ‘90s, and their vital role in what he calls the “re-invention of America” … Anyone interested in early Irish emigration to America will find Bric’s book a profitable study. Some readers may be astonished, even amused by the vitriolic character of late-18th-century US politics’, Kerby A. Miller, Irish Times.

'When Americans think of Irish immigration, most reflect on the famine immigrants of the mid-19th century, that legendary tidal wave of humanity sanctified in song and story. Maurice J. Bric, Senior lecturer in History, University College Dublin, and Chairperson of the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences, aims a green lens on earlier Irish immigrants who struggled ashore during the nation’s formative years. His deeply researched new book examines oft-forgotten Irish influences on the Founding Fathers and the American Revolution ... Bric’s exquisitely comprehensive analysis, dense with highly-nuanced details of religious, physical and political conditions of the period in Ireland, France, Britain and America, is lavishly seasoned with newspaper accounts and personal testimonies. Bric posits that the United Irishmen were "so important to the Ireland of the 1790s revolution", and he marshals resources with an enthusiastic gravitas to make his case', Mary McWay Seaman, The Celtic Connection (August 2008).

‘Bric focuses on the relationship between Ireland and America between 1760 and 1800, and how the Irish admired the United States for severing ties with England after the Revolutionary War … Told from the point of view of an Irish scholar, this book will be an informative read for student of both cultures’, Book News (August 2008).

‘Bric’s research is nearly flawless, which is benefiting of one of Jack Greene’s doctoral students, and a bare summary cannot do justice to the breadth of his study.’ Prof. Richard K. MacMaster, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (January 2009).

‘This exhaustively researched book primarily examines the impact the new Irish immigrants of Philadelphia had on national party politics, particularly on the rise of the first party system and the debates on Naturalization and Alien and Desition acts of the late 18th century', PG Connors, Choice (March 2009).

‘This exquisitely detailed study offers many original observations about the evolving relationship between ethnicity and politics in early America. On a historiographical level, Bric’s subtle grasp of the scholarship on Irish and British political development enables him creatively to re-situate North American political history in a richly transatlantic context…The book’s second major achievement is Bric’s close and careful reconstruction of Irish American political life…more effectively than any precious work on the topic, this book blends together a social history that depicts the emergence of Irish ethnicity and a political history that illustrates the dynamic relationship between emerging democratic politics, on one hand, and ethnic aspirations and divisions, on the other…this work will undoubtedly stand for years as the most thoroughly researched, fully developed account of Irish American politics in the 1790s', Seth Cotlar, The Journal of American History (June 2009).

'In Ireland, Philadelphia and the Re-invention of America, Maurice Bric presents a well constructed and thoughtful study of the role of the Irish immigrant community and their importance in the working out of American politics and identity between 1760 and 1800. Their numerical strength, contribution to and influence on American political events, particularly after the Revolution, are considered and assessed through a wide variety of sources and lenses … the whole account is also contextualised for readers with a useful biographical notes, further information and appendices referencing key figures and events on both sides of the Atlantic … The focus on Philadelphia in unsurprising as it was the key centre for revolutionary and post-revolutionary thought. It was the chosen venue for the Continental Congress (1774–81), the Confederation Congress (1781–89) and was the nation’s capital from 1790 to 1800. Philadelphia was also the principal destination of the Irish immigrant community throughout the period … [this book] is a substantial contribution to the historiography of eighteenth-century America and the influence of the Irish immigrant community on American society and politics … [it] is also to be commended for its success in charting the dynamics of Irish, British, and French influences in late eighteenth-century American politics and demonstrating the importance of assessing the evolution of the new republic from an Atlantic perspective', Johanna Archbold, Eighteenth-Century Ireland [2009]

‘In Ireland, Philadelphia and the re-invention of America, Maurice Bric has succeeded in situating Ireland and the U.S. in their proper contexts, so much so that the title does not do justice to the book … Bric makes a compelling, if suggestive, argument that what happened in Philadelphia around the period of the American Revolution only makes sense if we understand the many connections between the early modern kingdom/colony of Ireland and the federal nation state that would be America … He also suggests that the Irish had a hand in transforming the system as a whole. And here the book is at its best. Bric’s work chronicles movement – the how, who, where, why, when – but does so as it stands at the intersections of Irish, early American and Atlantic history … Bric’s work rests on archival rigour, broad context and the work of a great many first-rate studies … by tying together what have been regarded as disparate themes of the “green” Atlantic, Bric offers a new vantage point for understanding the “Age of Atlantic Revolutions'', Patrick Griffin, Irish Historical Studies (Nov. 2009).

‘Bric shows as he traces Irish immigrants through Philadelphia’s charged 1790s, “Philadelphia was more than a mere theatre for the orators and thinkers who emerged from the American Revolution. It was a laboratory where local, regional and national politics interacted”. The Irish interacted with gusto. They filled a void left by the Pennsylvania elite as a result of declaring independence, and they kept coming', Andrew Shankman, Journal of the Early Republic (Fall 2010).

‘This long awaited book by Maurice J. Bric, a senior lecturer in history at University College Dublin, details the experiences of Ireland’s late eighteenth century emigrants, especially those who settled in Philadelphia, the capital of colonial Pennsylvania and later of the new American nation ... In this volume Bric presents a wealth of information about the causes, the magnitude, and the processes of late-eighteenth-century Irish migration; his detailed examinations of the volume, the patterns, and the practical arrangements of the emigrant trade are among the book’s most novel and interesting features clearly, Ireland, Philadelphia and the Re-invention of America is the product of an extraordinary amount of research conducted, albeit sporadically, on two continents and over more than two decades...anyone interested in early Irish emigration to America, and in the turbulent origins and the vitriolic character of early U.S. party politics, in both of which the Irish played such prominent roles, should find Maurice Bric’s book a very profitable study’, Kerby A. Miller, Ulster Genealogical Review.

‘In this historiographically rich volume, Maurice Bric charts the pattern of migration from Ireland to Philadelphia and its environs, details the changing character of immigrants and immigration throughout the latter part of the eighteenth century and considers the impact of Philadelphia’s immigrants on the development of contemporary politics. Most importantly, he details the significance of the immigrants to the key questions of citizenship and the role of the foreign-born in the new republic. Philadelphia is an appealing city for this work … [this is] a fascinating study of the evolution and dynamics of ethnic politics in America … Bric succeeds in placing Philadelphia and Ireland in a transatlantic convergence that relied not simply on the accident of shipping schedules but on political beliefs, principles and ideologies. This truly made the Irish immigrants of Philadelphia, as he suggests, citizens of a wider universe', Úna Ní Bhroiméil, Irish Literary Supplement (Fall 2010).