The Molly Maguires illustrate the frustrations and disappointments that certain groups of immigrants encountered in the United States as they found harsh working conditions and a quality of life little better than that in their homeland.
The Molly Maguires were a secret brotherhood of Irish
Franklin B. Gowen, president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company, hired
According to McParlan, all the society members were Irish or sons of Irishmen and were Catholics. Members also belonged to the
Historians fail to agree as to the actual existence of the Molly Maguires in the eastern Pennsylvania mining region. The Molly Maguires left no tangible evidence of their existence. Molly Maguires did exist in Ireland as a secret society of Irish Catholic tenant farmers who retaliated against wealthy Protestant landowners, both Irish and English, in the agrarian conflict over land usage. The Molly Maguires dressed in disguise as women, painted their faces with cork, and used intimidation and violence. Many of the Irish miners in Pennsylvania were from the regions of Ireland where the society was active. As mine laborers, they faced much of the same hardships and lack of fair treatment that they had fled. Dangerous working conditions, frequent disasters resulting in deaths, long hours, low wages, payment in scrip, and the policy of firing any miner who dared to complain appear reason enough for these workers to again unite as Molly Maguires.
Dubofsky, Melvyn, and Foster Rhea Dulles. Labor in America: A History. Wheeling, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 2004. Kenny, Kevin. Making Sense of the Molly Maguires. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Great Irish Famine
Immigrant aid organizations