Cover image for Macnamara's Irish colony and the United States taking of California in 1846
Macnamara's Irish colony and the United States taking of California in 1846
Fox, John F., 1942-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, [2000]

Physical Description:
ix, 230 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F864 .F687 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Images of Irish immigration often bring to mind Ellis Island and crowded Eastern ports. If Eugene Macnamara's planned Irish Colony in California had succeeded, however, we might have a very different view of the Irish in America. In 1844, Eugene Macnamara, an Irish priest with a shadowy history, began promoting his plan to create an Irish colony in California. With the first of the Potato Famines a year later, many Irish farmers had to seek a new life, and California seemed to be the answer. In both Washington and Mexico, Macnamara and his plan were viewed as suspicious, even dangerous, yet once the U.S. war with Mexico gained California for the United States, the priest and his plan were largely forgotten.
Both period documents and new discoveries are used to flesh out the story of the California colonization project and the mysterious figure behind it. With illustrations, maps, and index, this book is a valuable resource for understanding American, Mexican, and Irish history--and a fascinating glimpse of the ways in which the past might have been different.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. 1
1. Missioners, Merchants, Colonists and Continentalistsp. 9
The U.S. Continentalists
British Designs on California
Macnamara: Missioner, Colonizer, Speculator?
Lost Tracks
St. Patrick's on the Jumna River
And on the Rio San Joaquin
English, Scots and Irish in Mexico
The Monroe Warning
Colonies: "Paper Empires" or "Tables Spread in the Wilderness"?
Macnamara's Role
2. The Outcast. Ireland 1814-1841p. 30
Ennis and County Clare
Doonbeg and Kilkee
Bishop Clancy's Rise
The Reluctant Recruit
3. Mission and Misadventure. British Guiana 1841-1844p. 49
Unease in Georgetown
The Prison Incident
Bishop Clancy's Demise
Immigration to Guiana
Macnamara Goes to the Pope
Hynes Returns
Last Days in Guiana: The Poison Pen
4. The Maverick. Mexico 1844-1845p. 75
Why Mexico?
The Colony Scheme
The Alexander Forbes Proposal
The Bondholders' Land Warrants
Macnamara's First Petition
The Mackintosh Scheme
Lobos Metodistas: "Methodist Wolves"
Mexican Colonization: The Hijar-Padres Expedition
5. Manana. Mexico 1845-1846p. 98
The Yniestra Battalion
Rumor and Distortion
The Mexican Ambassador in London
General Paredes' Coup
The Council's Reponse to the Macnamara Project
More Rumor and Distortion
Macnamara's Departure
6. The Dealer. Mexican California 1846p. 120
Contrasting Voyages
Admiral Seymour at Mazatlan
HMS Juno to Monterey
The Speculators
The "London Emigration Society"
HMS Juno to Santa Barbara
The Santa Barbara Junta
The Macnamara Petition
7. Contract. U.S. California, Hawaii, Mexico 1846p. 144
Seymour to California: "A Lottery of Blanks"
El Proyecto Macnamara
HMS Collingwood at Monterey
The Guests at the Wardroom Table
The London Bondholders Awake
Hawaiian Interlude
8. The Demon. Mexico, Washington, California 1847-1896p. 168
The Go-Between
The Irish Famine
The Enticing of Irish Deserters
The San Patricio Battalion
The Macnamara Project Sealed
Fremont's "Bugaboo"
Demon Macnamara
The Encirclement Conspiracy
Gold Discovery
The Memory Fades
The Unkindest Cuts
9. Utopia--No Such Place. California 1852p. 193
Fraudulent or Irregular?
Macnamara's "New Ireland"
The Valley
Parallel Beginnings: Gran Colombia, New Granada and Texas
The California Irish
Utopia: "No Such Place"
Notesp. 211
Indexp. 225