Six months ago, as I left all I had ever known, I could not even fathom what I now stand here gazing upon today. My life began on the streets of Dublin, where I remained for 20 years, picking up scraps not even fit for a rat, and even getting into fights over them. I remember when the redcoats came and cleaned the streets, sent us off to orphanages. But I escaped, I returned to the streets, Lord knows why. After twenty years of hard living, carefully earning money from the most hellish of jobs and subsequently frittering it all away on drinks and assorted ladies of the night, I saw a ship. This ship was the most majestic ship I had ever seen, her clean deck awash with a flurry of activity as men prepared to make sail. Her gold paint sparkling with dew in the shining light slowly peeking over the horizon. And I stood there, watching as deckhands greeted the Bosun, as the captain, in a splendid uniform stood perched on the poop watching his crew with a sense of delight only seen in men as they watch their sons. I began walking toward the ship with a wide gait, I felt hundreds of eyes slowly come upon me, wondering who this stranger was. As I reached the ship I was seized by a Marine. "Stop" a stern, yet kindly voice shouted. It was the captain, "Who are you?" I had been frozen unable to speak anything but a long, slow "um, ah..." "Well, Um Ahh, are you seeking employment?" The captain asked. I shook my head, dumbfounded at the prospect of leaving Ireland, and being able to touch this beautiful ship. I ventured aboard to begin my new life on this ship bound for America. I was to become a clerk, and I was taught to read in the first three weeks of my new emplyoment. This life was paradise, at least, until the fifth week.
It became hell. As we neared America, and the storms constantly assailed our ship. Each day we would lose an upwards of five men, cast into the unforgiving seas. As we neared Cape Cod, our destination, the ship racked violently. Men were spilled overboard into their death by Neptune, as an ungodly sound could be heard as our ship moved forward. It was rocks. Our hull had been torn away, we were sinking. A massive wave was cast upon the deck, taking my feet from under me, and I was cast into the raging seas. The next morning was calm. The ship was gone, and I saw nobody left. I took hold of a piece of wood, and just paddled for shore: my only hope of life. Not three hours later was I hoisted out of the water by benevolent fishermen, I decided that I should now begin yet another life, one in America.
When I arrived in Boston, I had nothing, it looked as if my life was to go the same way it had in Dublin. I would do odd jobs and fritter away my money, no way for a man to live as I look back on it. But there was one thing different: I was free. Free from the tumultuous struggles of the old world, from the yolk of the monarchy, Here I was free to let my vices control me, or put them behind, which is exactly what I did. I worked for another month, but saved my money. I bought food and supplies, and met several other men doing the same thing. We pooled our resources and marched west: into the undiscovered country. Now I stand here, on the other side of the Mississippi river, gazing out over this beautiful land, with its unending skies, filled with birds of every kind, dotted with puffs of clouds; Majestic rivers, their water providing the livliehood for the few who have decided to live here, and crowded with such numbers of fish that it is difficult to calculate; The seas of grass, waving across the prarie, and crisscrosed by Buffalo and native alike; and immaculate mountains, guardians of freedom, standing tall gazing down upon the whole of the nation, with their snow capped peaks filling the horizon. As I gaze forward, I know that this is a land of freedom, though undiscovered it may be. I look back to my partners, and continue forward. As I make my step I continue to explore this undiscovered country.