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Daniel O'Connell and the Repeal Year

Daniel O'Connell and the Repeal Year

Copyright Date: 1966
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Daniel O'Connell and the Repeal Year
    Book Description:

    Irish historians have minimized Daniel O'Connell's role in the Irish liberty movement in favor of later nationalist leaders, largely because of his failure in the 1843 movement for repeal of the Act of Union. In this first detailed study of the final, crucial episode in O'Connell's career, Lawrence J. McCaffrey reassesses his place in Ireland's struggle for independence. The Repeal agitation is viewed as marking a watershed in the course of Irish nationalism.

    The significance of this study, however, extends beyond the affairs of England and Ireland. It shows Daniel O'Connell to be among the first to develop the now familiar tactics of constitutional democratic political agitation and it also demonstrates the limitations inherent in these tactics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6354-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-xvi)
    Lawrence J. McCaffrey
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Background of the Repeal Agitation of 1843
    (pp. 1-50)

    Involved in a life and death struggle with the French Revolutionary armies, William Pitt the younger in the late 1790’s decided that an autonomous Ireland was a weak link in Britain’s chain of defenses. Using the power of the British Government and the wealth of its treasury he managed to achieve a legislative Union between Britain and Ireland. Pitt’s efforts were aided by the fears of many members of the Irish Protestant aristocracy and gentry that Ireland was in danger of conquest by either of two dangerous enemies—French inspired radical democracy or the revitalized forces of Popery. The inadequately...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Course of the Agitation
    (pp. 51-91)

    In April, O’Connell began to hold a series of outdoor meetings to petition Parliament for a Repeal of the Union. But gathering names for petitions was not the sole or even the primary purpose of these meetings. They were designed to indicate to British political leaders and their constituents that the Irish masses supported Repeal with the same intensity that they rallied to the Catholic emancipation cause in the 1820’s. They were also intended as a warning of the dangers involved in frustrating the self-government demand of an organized and disciplined Irish national opinion. And they also implied a threat...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Unionist Reactions to Repeal
    (pp. 92-134)

    Shortly after O’Connell issued his January Repeal manifesto the DublinEvening Mail,most influential of the Irish ascendancy newspapers, responded to the Liberator’s call for national action. Much of theMail’sreply to O’Connell consisted of personal abuse, but there were detailed comments on the various planks in the Repeal platform. To theMailRepeal simply was treason—the first step on the path to an eventual collapse of the British Empire. O’Connell’s pledge to abolish the tithe and separate church and state was a threat to destroy the Protestant Church, his promotion of the fixity of tenure cause menaced...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Peel Reconsiders the Irish Question
    (pp. 135-172)

    Sir Robert Peel was an unusual British Prime Minister; he knew something about Ireland. He had served there as Chief Secretary from 1812 to 1818. As Chief Secretary, Peel had strong anti-Catholic attitudes and opposed emancipation. He insisted that Ireland needed resolute government rather than reforms involving large expenditures of money. But in his efforts to reform the inefficient Irish administration he was frustrated by the venality and nepotism of the Protestant ascendancy. He left Ireland with the conviction that the interests of that country suffered from the selfish ambitions of both the ascendancy and Catholic nationalist factions.¹

    While in...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Peel Confronts O’Connell
    (pp. 173-213)

    The Queen’s speech closing the session of Parliament proved a serious obstacle to O’Connell’s efforts to retain the confidence of the Catholic masses. Throughout the spring and summer of 1843 he assured his followers that if the Government and the British Parliament rejected their demand for Repeal of the Union, they could still depend upon the Queen’s sense of justice and her love for her Irish subjects to restore the Irish Parliament. But now Victoria had made it clear that while she would encourage and support her Prime Minister’s efforts to enact Irish reform, she would also stand behind him...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Epilogue: Peel’s Irish Policy, 1844-1845
    (pp. 214-240)

    During the trial of O’Connell and the other “Traversers,” Repeal activity was for all practical purposes suspended in Ireland. Peel decided to use the comparative tranquility in Ireland to prepare the parliamentary ground for a new Irish policy. In a secret memorandum distributed to members of the cabinet on February 11, 1844, the Prime Minister expressed the opinion that the conviction and the imprisonment of O’Connell would lessen his influence with the Irish masses and encourage a temporary lull in Irish agitation. “Now if ever,” he said, “there is the prospect of detaching from the ranks of agitation and Repeal...

  10. Bibliographical Note
    (pp. 241-242)
  11. Index
    (pp. 243-252)