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Merritt Fish AP U.S. History, Ms. Whipple

Article Review 8 February 2017

Appel, John J. "From Shanties to Lace Curtains: The Irish Image in Puck, 1876

1910." Comparative Studies in Society and History 13.04 (1971): 365. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.



As more immigrants fled to America to pursue the American Dream, more Americans

began to develop a sense of nativism, or hatred towards immigrants. This hatred was mostly

caused by stereotype tensions, in which Americans did not like specific Irish qualities. In the

article, From Shanties to Lace Curtains: The Irish Image in Puck, 1876-1910 by John J. Appel,

a professor from Michigan State University, Appel analyzes the portrayal of Irish immigrants in

Puck magazine. He argues that Puck intensified stereotypes and prejudice towards the Irish

immigrants, making it harder for the Irish to assimilate. Through the use of the examples of

Uncle Sams Lodging House and Pucks editorials of 1877 and 1878, Appel is able to prove his

claim. This is similar to the textbook, By the People: A History of the United States, because they

both show the negative portrayal of Irish immigrants. Because of the specific and strong

evidence, and similar comparison to the textbook, Appels argument is very strong.

Puck magazine emerged in order to criticize groups and events, and during the early

1900s, the criticism was directed towards Irish immigrants. Typically, these Irish stereotypes

were portrayed in political cartoons, created by cartoonists like Joseph Keppler. His favorite

cartoons loved to exaggerate the negative impacts of the Irish, by reminding readers that some

immigrants have been violent towards U.S. citizens in New York. In addition, resentment
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towards Irish immigrants was commonly expressed through the characters Paddy and Bridget.

These [two] lower class Irish were the staple of Pucks Irish cartoons and jokes, and were used

to exaggerate the Irish stereotypes (Appel 367). Aspects such as the fighting nature of the Irish,

their Catholic beliefs, and traits of laziness and alcoholism were often used to create

exaggerations about Irish qualities, which entertained readers, and enforced the belief that

immigrants were very different from Americans. Because of examples like these, Appel is able to

further his argument that stereotypes made it harder for the Irish to assimilate, because they were

set apart from the rest of society. As time progressed, these depictions changed, and the

immigrants began to be admired for their distinct qualities. Compared to other immigrants, the

Irish were superior, and therefore desired in the workplace. As the stereotypes of the Irish died

down, other stereotypes, for example those surrounding the Jews, emerged. By analyzing the

transition of stereotypes, Appel and the reader are able to have more insight into what life was

really like in this time period. Overall, Appels use of evidence persuades the reader into

understanding that because Puck intensified Irish stereotypes, it was difficult for these

immigrants to assimilate into American society.

Through Appels use of examples of political cartoons and other sources from Puck

magazine, he clearly and logically supports his argument that stereotypes depicted in Puck made

it hard for the Irish to assimilate. Most importantly, by using the example of Kepplers cartoon,

Uncle Sams Lodging House, Appel was able to show how the nation reflected a common

American resentment against the inflamed temper of certain Irish and the rebel note surrounded

by one of its leaders(Appel 368). Keppler also points out the strong sense of Irish nationalism,

which some U.S. citizens despised and feared about the immigrants. In addition to this

nationalism, other qualities including their inclination towards violence, are evident in the
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cartoon. Because of this evidence, Kepplers cartoon supports Appels argument. By

exaggerating these Irish qualities, the audience developed a sense of nativism, which, in turn,

makes it harder for Irish immigrants to assimilate into U.S. society. Though the author uses a

multitude of strong, supportive evidence to support his claim, he also uses counterevidence. Even

though the readers views of Irish immigrants began to shift to a more positive outlook, the

criticism in Puck still remained. Appels example of Pucks editorials of 1887 and 1888

contradicted past views of the Irish. Instead of being viewed as lazy and useless, they were then

being viewed as energetic compared to the inferior Bohemian and Russian immigrants

(Appel 371). Although it might seem like this contradicts the authors argument, it actually

supports it. Because it expresses how American citizens specifically encouraged the Irish to

work, it further shows how there was still an ethnic barrier between the two groups, therefore

making it hard for immigrants to assimilate into society. Appels use of specific, strong, and

supporting evidence, furthers the readers understanding, causing his argument to be valid and

accepted by the reader, and the textbooks conformation of these facts furthers Appels rhetoric.

In addition to Appels article, Frasers By the People depicts how the newly immigrated

Irish were also viewed negatively. Fraser goes into depth, explaining that this hatred of the Irish

stemmed from English-Irish relations in Europe, which seemed to be continued by U.S. citizens.

Catholicism, which was also mentioned in Appels article, was a distinct quality of Irish that was

disliked by many Americans, because it was seen as a degrading religion and, thus, the Irish

as an inferior race(369). This is identical to how Appel describes American attitudes towards

immigrants, so the sources validate each other. However, the textbook focuses more on what the

Irish immigrants did to improve society, rather than how they were negatively viewed and

depicted. Appel describes the reoccurring quality of laziness, exemplified in political cartoons,
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while the textbook shows that the Irish were actually the opposite. Both male and female

immigrants worked in order to increase their economic opportunity, and their willingness to

work hard made them prized employees (Fraser 361). Later in the article, Appel recognizes that

as the views on the Irish shifted to a more positive outlook, many Americans began to favor Irish

workers because of their hard work, a view shared by Fraser. Because of the similarity between

Appels article and Frasers textbook, Appels argument is further validated, resulting in a deeper

understanding for the reader that as a result Pucks encouragement and exaggeration of Irish

stereotypes, it was harder for immigrants to assimilate.

In conclusion, Appels argument that stereotypes depicted in Puck made it difficult for the

immigrants to assimilate was supported with strong evidence, which made the argument logical,

clear, and easily understood by the audience. By providing specific evidence including Kepplers

Uncle Sams Lodging House and Pucks 1887 and 1888 editorials, he supports his claim, and

persuades the reader to agree with him. Also, the similarities shared by the article and the

textbook regarding how the Irish were viewed by Americans furthers Appels persuasiveness.

Overall, this article would be highly useful for a college history student, as it provides insight to

what life was like during the early 1900s by going into detail about the specific stereotypes of

immigrants from an Americans point of view. By providing these key details, the reader is able

to further their understanding of American society and stereotypes at that time, and it could be

very useful in gaining further knowledge about societal tensions still in place today.

Works Cited
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Appel, John J. "From Shanties to Lace Curtains: The Irish Image in Puck, 1876

1910." Comparative Studies in Society and History 13.04 (1971): 365. Web. 10 Feb.



Fraser, James W. Chapter 12: Living in a Nation of Changing Lands,

Changing Faces, and Changing Expectations, 18311754. By the People: A

History of the United States, Pearson Boston, 2015. p. 360-362.