Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Dr. John Gordon
Dr. Woody Holton
Dr. Robert Kenzer
Following years of escalating tension, the thirteen American colonies crossed the threshold over to armed revolt, declaring a war for independence from the British in 1776. Restrictions placed upon the colonies and failed attempts at a compromise drove American patriots to initiate and execute a republican revolution that redefined their status from subsidiary colonies to independent nation. During this time, Ireland found itself in a unique situation, in an ambiguous status stuck between colony and nation. Desires for greater participation in Britain’s mercantilist economy and demand for Ireland’s legislative independence led to a revolutionary period orchestrated by an opposition group in the Irish Parliament and facilitated by extra-parliamentary patriots. The “Revolution of 1782” granted the Irish Parliament the sole right to legislate for the people and bestowed upon the country a nationalistic sentiment that would inspire later generations.
The American and Irish patriots initially shared similar goals. Both engaged in a battle over sovereignty that beleaguered the early modern British Empire. The colonies and Ireland supported a reform of imperial arrangements that would allow for greater autonomy for the peripheries and extensive self-legislating. As Irish historian Stephen Small asserts, “At times, very similar arguments were used by both American and Irish Patriots, and they both used identical political terms, such as rights, tyranny, property, liberty, virtue, and corruption in very similar ways.” Until the American cause became one of separatist rebellion, both patriot groups essentially argued for the same rights. One should therefore expect that both groups saw a common thread between their situations, even if some pamphleteers exaggerated this commonality.
Johnson, Jacob Keith, "Enslaved revolutionaries : constitutional rhetoric of eighteenth-century Irish and American patriots" (2009). Honors Theses. 646.