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The Rise Of The United Irish Men

4553 words - 19 pages

The Society of United Irishmen was founded as a liberal political organisation in eighteenth century Ireland that initially sought Parliamentary reform.[1] However, it evolved into a revolutionary republican organisation, inspired by the American Revolution and allied with Revolutionary France. It launched the Irish Rebellion of 1798 with the objective of ending British monarchical rule over Ireland and founding a sovereign, independent Irish republic.

Contents [hide]
1 Background
2 Foundation
2.1 Movement spreads
3 Differences of opinion
4 Catholic rights and emancipation
5 1793–97
6 1798 Rebellion
7 Desertion of the United Irishmen cause
8 The United Irishmen and sectarianism ...view middle of the document...

[2] Most notably was his appeal for all Anglicans, Dissenters, and Roman Catholics to unite together as one indifferent association, however he accepted that this would only appeal to the minority within each denomination.[2] Inspiring and increasing the radicalisation of Irish reformists was the French Revolution which had started in 1789, and had so far remained largely bloodless, with the French king forced to concede effective power to a National Assembly.[2]

Also in 1789 the Whig party was founded in Ireland and soon it became an alliance of radicals, reform-minded parliamentarians, and dissident representatives of the governing class.[2] By 1791 this alliance however was already fracturing, and several rival Whig clubs were set up by people such as Napper Tandy in Dublin and Belfast.[2] Another grouping was a "shadowy" organisation of eleven people headed by Samuel Neilson, that sought to move the recently revived Volunteer movement in as far a radical direction as possible.[2]

The enthusiasm for the French Revolution saw great Irish interest in Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man released in May 1791, which defended it and saw around 20,000 cheap copies printed for digest in Ireland.[2] A couple of months later the Belfast Volunteer company gathered to celebrate the second anniversary of the fall of the Bastille.[2] It was intended that a new radical society was to be announced during the celebrations with William Drennan, who was to give a declaration, asked to add in resolutions.[2] Drennan refused due to the short notice of the request and suggested that a Theobald Wolfe Tone be asked.[2]

Tone's reformist radicalism had advanced beyond that of the Whigs, and he proposed three resolutions for the new society, which he named the Society of United Irishmen.[2] The first resolution was for the denouncing of the continuing interference of the British establishment in Irish affairs.[2] The second was for the full reform of the Irish parliament and its representation.[2] The last resolution called for a union of religious faiths in Ireland to "abolish the differences that had long divided Irishmen" and sought to give Catholics political rights.[2] This last proposal however was quietly dropped by the Belfast Volunteers to ensure unanimity for the proposals amongst the people.[2]

This seemed to delay the launch of the new society and by August 1791, Tone in response to the rebuff of his third resolution, published the popular and robust An Argument on Behalf of the Catholics of Ireland, which argued why they should be included in attempts at reform.[2] That October, Tone was invited to a debate on the creation of a new society by a group of people including Neilson.[2] Here he found that his resolutions were now found a few months later to be "too tame".[2] A new set of resolutions were drafted and agreed to on 14 October, which the Belfast branch of the Society of United Irishmen adopted on 18 October, and the Dublin...

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