Preface [chapter]

2020 Daniel O'Connell  
THE COMPULSION I FEEL in committing these months toward the end of a long life to this essay on Daniel O'Connell comes from something more than a wish to pay a tribute to a statesman I have admired since, as a small boy, I first heard of him. It is because in my mature years I formed the conviction that he has something relevant to say to Americans here and now. O'Connell, as we bring him into focus, after generations of bitter criticism, misrepresentation, and neglect, becomes a very modern
more » ... . The principles which he held with such consistency and expounded with such consummate eloquence are, by modern standards, enlightened, even prescient. They are wholly pertinent questions which are of deep concern to all of us. The reader of history will perceive that the span of O'Connell's life, 1775-1847, witnessed profound changes in political arrangements, in power structures, and in national boundaries in the Western world. One of the more important of these developments has been the growth of nationalism, not only here but throughout the world. As this national consciousness affected Ireland, it cannot be interpreted, even understood, except as it was awakened by O'Connell. He entered public life as an opponent of the Act of Union of 18oo, a measure which was to infect British relations with Ireland for a century and a quarter. The chapters which follow stress those aspects of O'Connell's career which should be of concern to every American, whether or not his ancestry is Irish, or whether or not he subscribes to the religious faith of O'Connell. Moreover, while this book is mostly intended xu
doi:10.1515/9780823295340-002 fatcat:n5qo2trvkjgzlnlsy3dvrqq3iq