Daniel O'Connell, repeal and Chartism in the age of Atlantic revolutions

ROBERTS, Matthew (2017). Daniel O'Connell, repeal and Chartism in the age of Atlantic revolutions. The Journal of Modern History.

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Abstract

This article in a contribution to recent work which has begun to integrate the study of British and Irish popular politics in the early nineteenth century. It begins by comparing the two movements - seldom done in the respective historiographies - which dominated popular politics on either side of the Irish Sea in the 1840s: Chartism and the campaign for the repeal of the Act of Union (1800). The enmity between the two movements has blinded historians to the similarities and points of contact between Chartism and Repeal, and to underestimate the radicalism of O'Connell and the Repeal movement. There was a shared ideological commitment to democracy, and Repeal no less than Chartism was a movement for parliamentary reform - an aspect virtually ignored in the historiography. O'Connell's enmity towards the Chartists was part of a strategy of trying to contain Chartism in Britain. Having sketched out this comparative context, the article moves on to a discussion of Chartism in Ireland in the early-to-mid 1840s, about which we still know very little. By utilising a range of sources - including manuscript sources ignored in previous accounts - it suggests that O'Connell had good reason to fear the rival pull of Chartism in Ireland. Attention is paid to the means by which Chartism was established in Ireland, especially the role of diasporic networks. The article concludes by situating the comparison of the two movements in the context of recent work on democratic revolutions in the Atlantic World. It challenges the view that there was a "democratic deficit" in Ireland in the age of O'Connell, and suggests that Repeal and Chartism were beset by similar tensions over competing definitions of liberty that had cascaded around the Atlantic World since the late eighteenth century.

Item Type: Article
Departments: Development and Society > Humanities
Depositing User: Matthew Roberts
Date Deposited: 08 May 2017 13:24
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2017 16:05
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15673

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