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American Slavery, Irish Freedom

Abolition, Immigrant Citizenship, and the Transatlantic Movement for Irish Repeal

Angela F. Murphy

Publication Year: 2010

Irish Americans who supported the movement for the repeal of the act of parliamentary union between Ireland and Great Britain during the early 1840s encountered controversy over the issue of American slavery. Encouraged by abolitionists on both sides of the Atlantic, repeal leader Daniel O’Connell often spoke against slavery, issuing appeals for Irish Americans to join the antislavery cause. With each speech, American repeal associations debated the proper response to such sentiments and often chose not to support abolition. In American Slavery, Irish Freedom, Angela F. Murphy examines the interactions among abolitionists, Irish nationalists, and American citizens as the issues of slavery and abolition complicated the first transatlantic movement for Irish independence. The call of Old World loyalties, perceived duties of American citizenship, and regional devotions collided for these Irish Americans as the slavery issue intertwined with their efforts on behalf of their homeland. By looking at the makeup and rhetoric of the American repeal associations, the pressures on Irish Americans applied by both abolitionists and American nativists, and the domestic and transatlantic political situation that helped to define the repealers’ response to antislavery appeals, Murphy investigates and explains why many Irish Americans did not support abolitionism. Murphy refutes theories that Irish immigrants rejected the abolition movement primarily for reasons of religion, political affiliation, ethnicity, or the desire to assert a white racial identity. Instead, she suggests, their position emerged from Irish Americans’ intention to assert their loyalty toward their new republic during what was for them a very uncertain time. The first book-length study of the Irish repeal movement in the United States, American Slavery, Irish Freedom conveys the dilemmas that Irish Americans grappled with as they negotiated their identity and adapted to the duties of citizenship within a slaveholding republic, shedding new light on the societal pressures they faced as the values of that new republic underwent tremendous change.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Series: Antislavery, Abolition, and the Atlantic World

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xiii

In 1840, Daniel O’Connell formed what would become the Loyal National Repeal Association in Dublin to agitate for the repeal of the act of parliamentary union between Great Britain and Ireland. In that same year, abolitionists from both sides of the Atlantic held a World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in order to launch a campaign for the end of black chattel slavery throughout...

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Introduction: Repeal, Abolition, and Irish America

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pp. 1-23

Since the Colonial Period, the continuing flow of immigrants from the Old World to the New has bound Ireland and America together. In the Revolutionary era, regard for republican ideology strengthened the links between the two countries as both struggled against the hegemony of Great Britain. ...

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1. Daniel O'Connell and Two Transatlantic Movements

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pp. 24-35

In August 1875, abolitionist Wendell Phillips spoke at the O’Connell Centenary Celebration held in Boston. At this commemoration, Phillips ranked the Irish icon “not with founders of states . . . but with men who, without arms, by force of reason, have revolutionized their times.”1...

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2. American Slavery: An Irish Question

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pp. 36-53

The World Anti-Slavery Convention, held in London in June 1840, brought antislavery advocates from both sides of the Atlantic together to promote transatlantic cooperation in the campaign against slavery. Although differences in philosophy frustrated the attempt to unify the various antislavery groups at the convention...

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3. Irish Repeal: An American Question

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pp. 54-72

After the reception of the Irish Address, the main vehicle for the consideration of American slavery and abolitionism among Irish Americans was the network of associations formed throughout the United States to support Daniel O’Connell’s movement for Irish repeal. ...

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4. The Irish Address

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pp. 73-100

Irish American repealers reacted quickly to the American abolitionists’ presentation of the Irish Address. After the Faneuil Hall meeting, which the abolitionists initially publicized as a breakthrough in luring Irish Americans to the cause of antislavery, Irish American spokesmen were quick to discount the meeting. ...

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5. Abolitionists and Irish Repeal

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pp. 101-123

American abolitionists were not pleased with what they saw as O’Connell’s lukewarm response to the anti-abolitionist letters from American repealers. As with the promotion of the Irish Address, it was the Garrisonian abolitionists that gave the most attention to the exchanges on abolitionism among repealers. ...

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6. O'Connell's Antislavery Appeal

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pp. 124-149

If the affixation of O’Connell’s name on the Irish antislavery address had disturbed American repealers in 1842, his direct and unequivocal appeal to Irish American members of the movement to join with the abolitionists in May 1843 resulted in an explosion of controversy among their societies. ...

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7. Cincinnati and Clontarf

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pp. 150-173

Through the summer of 1843, the enemies of American repeal rejoiced at the controversy O’Connell’s speech had brought to the movement and celebrated what they believed to be its imminent collapse in the United States. American repealers, however, continued to assert that O’Connell’s opinions...

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8. Nativism and Repeal

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pp. 174-191

Despite the frequent declarations of loyalty to the United States, members of American repeal associations met with opposition from various segments of American society. From the beginnings of the movement, when Irish American repealers were accused of inappropriately involving Americans in the domestic affairs...

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9. The "American Eagle" and the Decline of Repeal

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pp. 192-215

While the American repeal movement dealt with nativist criticisms of its connections to O’Connell, across the Atlantic O’Connell suffered under accusations that he was disloyal to Great Britain due to his ties with repealers in the United States. ...

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pp. 216-219

Between 1842 and 1846, the American repeal associations negotiated several appeals from Ireland to support the antislavery movement in their adopted land. American and Irish abolitionists, believing the transatlantic ties between Irish Americans and their homeland would be a useful tool in bringing the growing immigrant group ...

APPENDIX: Biographical Sketches of Select American Repeal Leaders

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pp. 221-227


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pp. 229-263


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pp. 265-277


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pp. 279-286

E-ISBN-13: 9780807137444
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807136393

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Antislavery, Abolition, and the Atlantic World