Home Rule from a transnational perspective: The Irish Parliamentary Party and the United Irish League of America, 1901-1918
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When John Redmond was elected chairman of the reunited Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) in 1900, he quickly identified a pressing need to re-engage Irish America. Ireland’s largest diaspora had grown weary of constitutional nationalism after the debacle of the Parnell split in 1890 and this apathy would need to be addressed if the IPP was to successfully prosecute the drive for home rule. This consideration led Redmond to establish the United Irish League of America (UILA) in December 1901. Tasked with providing financial and ideological support to the IPP, the UILA performed admirably, growing exponentially with every legislative victory the Irish Party achieved at Westminster. Indeed, with some form of home rule seeming a political inevitability in 1914, the American League could be forgiven for thinking it had fulfilled its mandate. The onset of the Great War, however, and Redmond’s decision to lend Irish Volunteer support to Britain, initiated the death of constitutional nationalism before a flagging revolutionary movement was inspired to strike a blow for Ireland. This thesis examines the relationship between the Irish Parliamentary Party and the United Irish League of America between 1901 and 1918. An analysis of IPP parental responsibilities, together with an appraisal of the UILA’s wilful subordination, facilitate a measured commentary on the steady decline of a once promising relationship. Personal correspondence between individuals at the heart of these organisations, together with extensive press reports and the published proceedings of multiple conventions, complement a rapidly expanding historiography surrounding Ireland’s struggle for national independence. What follows is a nuanced exploration of John Redmond’s leadership, and questions as to whether arrogance, naivety, or a laissez-faire attitude had any role to play in fomenting the transatlantic discord ultimately so injurious to the constitutional movement begin to emerge.
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