Runners of the Olden Time


“In olden times . . . scoundrels of the very lowest calibre– emigrant runners– seized [the immigrant] and made him their own. If he had any money, they robbed him of it.If he had a pretty wife or daughter, they stole them too, if they could. . . The easiest emigrants to rob were the Irish; and the majority of emigrant runners belonged to the same race. The brogue was part of their capital in trade.

“This is ancient history now. A few years ago, the railways of this State grew jealous of emigrant runners, and proposed to monopolize the business. With the aid of certain politicians, they established an emigrant depôt at Castle Garden, in the city of New York, where immigrants are now landed, and whence they are forwarded to their destination.”

From Harper’s Weekly, June 26, 1858.