The Nationalist Cause
DEDICATION TO THE CAUSE OF A FREE AND UNITED IRELAND PLAYED AN important part in the transition of the immigrants to American life. It was a symbolic goal with broad appeal around which the various factions in Irish-American life might rally; whatever their differences about method, virtually all Irish Americans agreed that Ireland should no longer be an English colony. The energies and talents of many of the leaders of the Irish-American community were consumed by nationalist devotion, as was a considerable amount of the money from ordinary members of the community. Indifference of other Americans to the cause, particularly of those whose sympathies were allegedly progressive or liberal, probably increased the Irish suspicion of ideological liberalism (though they voted more often than not for liberal candidates, on pragmatic grounds).
The history of Irish-American nationalism can be separated into four eras: 1850-1880, the time of "Young Ireland" and the Fenians; 1880- 1900, the time of the Land League and clan; 1900-1921, the era of the Irish Republican Brotherhood; 1921-present, when the "Irish question'' receded into the unconscious to appear again whenever the