The Tragedy Of Bridget Such-a-one


For America as well the famine was a time of testing. As Herman Melville saw it, the immigrants arriving unchecked on the docks of New York were a sign that America would be “not a nation, so much as a world.” The greatness and genius of America wasn’t in reproducing the ethnic sameness of Britain or France, he wrote. The world had no need of more pure-blooded tribes or xenophobic nationalities. Bereft of wealth or education or Anglo-Saxon pedigree, what Bridget such-a-one and all the other nameless, tired, hopefilled immigrants carried with them was the opportunity for America to affirm its destiny: “We are the heirs of all time, and with all nations we divide our inheritance. On this Western Hemisphere all tribes and people are forming into federated whole; and there is a future which shall see the estranged children of Adam restored as to the old hearth-stone in Eden.”

1945: The Famine’ Children a Century Later