Irish Potato Famine Mini- dbq point Of View Focus



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Based upon your existing knowledge AND the documents provided, assess the validity of the following statement by John Michel: “ The Almighty indeed sent the Potato Blight but the English created the Famine.” Take extra care in examining the significance of the Point of view of each author.



Document 1

"Can we wonder if the Irish people believe that the lives of those who have perished have been sacrificed by a deliberate compact to the gains of English merchants and if this belief has created among all classes a feeling of deep dissatisfaction, not only with the ministry but with English rule. What can be more absurd, what can be more wicked, than for men professing attachment to an imperial Constitution to answer claims now put forward for state assistance to the unprecedented necessities of Ireland, by talking of Ireland being a drain upon the English treasury? If Cornwall (England) had been visited with the scenes that have desolated Cork (Ireland), would similar arguments been used? Would men have stood up and denied that Cornwall was entitled to have the whole country share the extraordinary loss?"

SOURCE: Isaac Butt, a leading Irish Conservative, 1847.

Document 2

"The (Irish) people have made up their minds to report the worst and believe the worst. Human agency is now denounced as instrumental in adding to the calamity (disaster) inflicted by Heaven. It is no longer submission to Providence, but a murmur (complaint) against the Government...The Government provided work for a people who love it or not. It made this the absolute condition of relief. The Government was required to ward off starvation, not to pamper indolence (laziness). Alas! the Irish peasant has tasted of famine and found it was good...There are ingredients in the Irish character which must be modified and corrected before either individuals or Government can hope to raise the general conditions of the people...For our own part, we regard the potato blight a blessing."

SOURCE: Excerpt from an editorial in The London Times, 1846.

Document 3

"It is a frightful document against ourselves...one of the most melancholy stories in the whole wide world of insolence, rapine, brutal, endless slaughter and persecution on the part of the English master...There is no crime ever invented by eastern or western barbarians, no torture or Roman persecution or Spanish Inquisition, no tyranny of Nero or Alva but can be matched in the history of England in Ireland."

SOURCE: William Makepiece Thackeray, a British writer.

Document 4

"It has been a popular argument in Ireland, that as the calamity was an imperial one, the whole amount expended in relieving it ought to be defrayed out of the public revenue. There can be no doubt that the deplorable consequences of this great calamity extended to the empire at large, but the disease was strictly local, and the cure was to be obtained only by the application of local remedies. If England and Scotland, and great part of the north and east of Ireland has stood alone, the pressure would have been severe, but there would be no call for assistance from national funds. The west and the south of Ireland was the peccant [guilty] part. The owners and holders of the land in those districts had permitted or encouraged the growth of excessive population which depended upon the precarious potato, and they alone had it in their power to restore society to a safe and healthy state. If all were interested in saving the starving people, they were far more so, because it included their own salvation from the desperate struggles of surrounding multitudes frenzied with hunger. The economical administration of the relief could only be provided for by making it, in part at least, a local charge."



SOURCE: Charles Treveylan, 1847

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