The Irish World was founded by Patrick Ford in Brooklyn in 1870. Linking Irish news to labor issues that were more international in character, it reached at one stage a circulation of 100,000. In the light of this broad range of interests, from 1878 it adopted the name The Irish World and American Industrial Liberator. It took strong positions on anti-monopoly, land nationalization, strikes, women’s rights, and temperance. It, and its owner Patrick Ford, had overt links to the Greenback party and had evident sympathies with the socialists. As a result, it had become the ‘voice of the politically conscious Irish-American working class, read…by every reform advocate in the land…by the proletariat of all nationalities’. As Whelehan notes, it ‘espoused a world view that blended a form of Jeffersonian agrarian democracy with Irish nationalism and progressive ideas of social reform’ and on the pages of which ‘the fortunes of Irish tenant farmers and American workers were bound up in a transnational war against global systems of land monopolisation.’ As a result it became e land league issue became a magnet for socialists, trade unionists, Knights and Greenbackers, as well as the Irish constituency for which it was originally intended.
Of particular significance in the 1880s was Patrick Ford’s view that ‘land robbers’ were the greatest of social enemies and the Land League’s adopted motto – ‘the land for the people’ – was already that of the Irish World. What made the Irish World’s approach to the emerging Land League movement distinct was that Ford consistently sought to link the land struggle in Ireland with the social issues in the United States. In 1881 the paper hired Henry George to be its correspondent in Ireland and England.
The paper was the major source for fundraising for the Irish Land League in 1880-82. collecting $250,000. It also ran a Spread the Light Campaign which paid for copies of the Irish World to be sent to Ireland for free distribution. In support of that many Spread the Light ‘clubs’ were established out of which came the more wide-ranging political Spread the Light Clubs, such as the one in Brooklyn. However, as the Irish Land League, on both sides of the Atlantic, began to break up because of the divisions between the mainstream supporters of Parnell, and those allied with the more radical views of Davitt, the paper (and its owners) became disillusioned and in late 1882 stopped its fundraising activities.