Irish emigrants, most of them from Ulster, were the largest group of European settlers in eighteenth-century America. Many of them settled in remote western areas, where they traded or fought with Indians. In 1763, in the century’s most notorious massacre, a group of Pennsylvania militiamen called the Paxton Boys exterminated the last of the Conestoga Indians. They then marched on Philadelphia, threatening to sack the city unless their demands were met. Due in large measure to the efforts of Benjamin Franklin, what followed was a war of words rather than weapons, with Quakers, Anglicans, and Presbyterians engaging in an exchange of pamphlets rich with insights into the political culture of colonial America. Kevin Kenny is Professor of History and Glucksman Professor in Irish Studies at New York University. His books include Making Sense of the Molly Maguires (1998), The American Irish (2000), Peaceable Kingdom Lost (2009), Diaspora: A Very Short Introduction (2013), and Ireland and the British Empire: The Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series (editor, 2004). He taught at the University of Texas from 1994 to 1999 and at Boston College from 1999 to 2018.
This event is part of Carnegie Hall’s Migrations: The Making of America festival: https://www.carnegiehall.org/Events/Season-Highlights/Migrations