This is the first comprehensive analysis of late eighteenth-century Irish patriot thought and its development into 1790s radical republicanism. The book is a history of the rich political ideas and languages that emerged from the tumultuous events and colourful individuals of this pivotal period in Irish history. Patriots, radicals, and republicans played key roles in the movements for free trade, legislative independence, parliamentary reform, Catholic relief and
independence from Britain; and many of their ideas helped precipitate the rebellion in 1798. Stephen Small explains the ideological background to these issues, sheds new light on the origins of Irish republicanism, and places late eighteenth-century Irish political thought in the wider context of
British, Atlantic, and European ideas.
Dr Small argues that Irish patriotism, radicalism, and republicanism were constructed out of five key political 'languages': Protestant superiority, ancient constitutionalism, commercial grievance, classical republicanism, and natural rights. These political languages, which were Irish dialects of languages shared with the English-speaking and European world, combined in the late 1770s to construct the classic expression of Irish patriotism. This patriotism was full of contradictions,
containing the seeds of radical reform, Catholic emancipation, and republican separatism - as well as a defence of Protestant Ascendancy.
Over the next two decades, the American and French Revolutions, the reform movement, popular politicization, Ascendancy reaction, and Catholic political revival disrupted and transformed these languages, causing the fragmentation of a broad patriot consensus and the emergence from it of radicalism and republicanism. These developments are explained in terms of tensions and interactions between Protestant assumptions of Catholic inferiority, the increasing popularity of natural rights, and the
enduring centrality of classical republican concepts of virtue to all types of patriot thought.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 575 g
Dimensions: 223 x 146 x 22 mm
What makes Stephen Small's book particularly welcome is his concentration on political arguments and his attempt to trace the ideas of the 1790s back to the age of the American Revolution. * English Historical Review *
The range of sources consulted, deployed and extensively quoted tells us much that we did not previously know. * English Historical Review *
... as a sustained effort to engage with discourse 'in its own right' it marks a significant advance in the study of late eighteenth-century Ireland. * History *
Insights are peppered throughout the book, along with excellent descriptions of individual pamphlets or pamphleteers. There is also much to admire in Dr Small's knowledge of the printed sources. * Eighteenth-Century Ireland *
Dr Small's book is an indispensable addition to this discussion ... essential reading for anyone interesed in late eighteenth-century Ireland. * Eighteenth-Century Ireland *
... a work that greatly enhances and expands understanding of eighteenth-century Irish patriotism and, to a lesser degree, of the origins of Irish republicanism. It is an impressive first book. * History of Political Thought *
...an insightful, extremely careful and extraordinarily balanced study of one of the most crucial events in early modern Irish history. * Frederik Herzberg, Journal of the Oxford University History Society *