Sir Thomas Harriott introduces the potato, previously only found in Columbia in South America, to England and Ireland. Sir Walter Raleigh pursued farming of the new staple in Ireland and before you knew it, they were every where.
This would become very important to American development as well. The potato became a staple food for the impoverished Irish populace. In the 1840’s a potato blight ruined the crops of potatoes in Ireland, resulting in a devastating famine. The famine caused approximately a million deaths and also approximately one million emigrants to America. The burgeoning Irish population in America would have a long lasting effect on our country, in labor, the military services and police forces.
Potatoes! Baked, French Fried, Potato soup, Potato Chips, Sweet Potato Pie, Potato Cakes, Mashed Potatoes, Scalloped Potatoes, Potatoes au Gratin….
Today in History, March 17: 1780 – “The General directs that all fatigue and working parties cease for to-morrow the SEVENTEENTH instant,” read the orders, “a day held in particular regard by the people of [Ireland].”
General George Washington’s Army was bedded down amidst 6 foot snow drifts, suffering through the worst winter on record…even worse than Valley Forge.
Recently the Irish, who were also in rebellion against the Crown, had declared themselves AMERICANS in solidarity with the American colonists that were fighting for their independence.
At least a quarter of Washington’s army was Irish…and a vast majority of his commanders shared that distinction. So GW decided that St. Patrick’s Day…(not Christmas, nor Easter)…would be a day of rest and celebration for his army.