The Oxford University Press website gives Bulik’s theory of
In the 1870s Franklin Gowen, the bombastic and delusional railroad president who hoped to monopolize Pennsylvania’s entire hard coal trade on a small amount of borrowed capital, was the original promoter of this conspiracy theory: that the AOH, an Irish Catholic benevolent order legally chartered with Pennsylvania’s state legislature, and the “Molly Maguires,” an alleged Irish terrorist organization, were one and the same.
It looks like Bulik’s upcoming work, like so many previous works, also ignores discoverable facts. Many of the Irish Catholic community leaders charged as
Bulik’s upcoming work (again, from the Oxford Press website) tells of the peasant “folk justice” of
Many prominent Hibernians charged as “Mollies” were on their way up the political ladder. The Roman Catholic ideology that shaped their AOH charter also shaped their political and labor advocacy.
In October 1875, Bernard Dolan,
In 1873 Christopher Donnelly, future AOH county treasurer charged as an alleged “Molly,” served as delegate to the
At least four Hibernians charged as “Mollies” served as area school directors. Two of them were miners.
Patrick Hester, hotelkeeper and prominent
The Irishmen charged as “Mollies” who sat in jails in eight
With so much discoverable fact, it remains a mystery why contemporary scholars, historians, and authors continue to portray Pennsylvania’s Hibernians as members of a transplanted Irish terrorist group—the same fiction promoted by a hostile nineteenth-century press and a near-bankrupt detective agency. Gowen purchased this fiction to remove influential Irish Catholics from the political and industrial arena. Gowen’s plan worked. His “Molly Maguire” prosecutions effectively destroyed the burgeoning power of the AOH, along with the reforms that it threatened.
We have a mandate to examine our history—however dark that history may be. Historians who investigate Pennsylvania’s “Molly Maguires” would be better served if they resisted the lure of sensation and nineteenth-century nativist rhetoric, searched for discoverable facts about the Irish Catholics persecuted in eight Pennsylvania counties, and followed the trail of those facts—wherever that trail might lead.