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Parnell, Charles Stewart(pär`nəl, pärnĕl`), 1846–91, Irish nationalist leader. Haughty and sensitive, Parnell was only a mediocre orator, but he possessed a marked personal fascination and was a shrewd political and parliamentary tactician. He succeeded in uniting the moderate and militant Irish nationalists in the drive for land reform and Home Rule and brought the Irish question to the forefront of British politics.
The son of a Protestant landowner, he attached himself to the Home RuleHome Rule,
in Irish and English history, political slogan adopted by Irish nationalists in the 19th cent. to describe their objective of self-government for Ireland. Origins of the Home Rule Movement
..... Click the link for more information. movement of Isaac Butt and was elected to the British Parliament in 1875. He quickly developed an obstructionist policy in Parliament, where his filibusters gave the Irish contingent a prominence far beyond its numbers. Although these tactics lost him the approval of Butt, they brought him the support of the militant Fenian movementFenian movement
secret revolutionary society organized c.1858 in Ireland and the United States to achieve Irish independence from England by force.
..... Click the link for more information. .
Joining the Fenians in their agitation against the Irish land laws, Parnell became president of the National Land League (see Irish Land QuestionIrish Land Question,
name given in the 19th cent. to the problem of land ownership and agrarian distress in Ireland under British rule. The long-term result of conquest, confiscation, and colonization was the creation of a class of English and Scottish landlords and of an
..... Click the link for more information. ) in 1879. He encouraged the use of the boycott as a means of bringing pressure on the landlords and their agents, but the agitation also produced much violence, and the harsh Coercion Bill of 1881 was passed (over Parnell's opposition) to check it.
In 1881, Parnell started United Ireland, a paper in support of the Land League, edited by William O'BrienO'Brien, William,
1852–1928, Irish journalist and political leader. He became (1881) editor of a newspaper, United Ireland, which championed the Irish agrarian cause (see Irish Land Question).
..... Click the link for more information. . Arrested for his activities and put in Kilmainham jail, Parnell directed O'Brien to compose a manifesto against rent payment. Parnell's popularity increased, and he came to be referred to as the "uncrowned king of Ireland." He was released (1882) by the so-called Kilmainham treaty, by which the government agreed to settle the question of arrears in land rent if Parnell would help check violence against landlords.
The Phoenix Park murdersPhoenix Park murders,
name given to the assassination on May 6, 1882, of Lord Frederick Cavendish, British secretary for Ireland, and Thomas Henry Burke, his undersecretary, in Phoenix Park, Dublin.
..... Click the link for more information. of 1882 shocked Parnell as much as they did the English, but the Irish leader opposed the coercive Crimes Act that followed and was therefore charged with encouraging terrorism. Nonetheless, he retained the confidence of his followers both in Ireland and in America, where the fact that he was a grandson of the American naval hero Charles Stewart added to his appeal.
In 1885 the Liberals' threat to renew the Crimes Act of 1882 led Parnell to throw the Irish vote to the Tories and thus bring down the government of William GladstoneGladstone, William Ewart,
1809–98, British statesman, the dominant personality of the Liberal party from 1868 until 1894. A great orator and a master of finance, he was deeply religious and brought a highly moralistic tone to politics.
..... Click the link for more information. . It was, however, an uncomfortable alliance, and in 1886 Parnell swung back to the Liberals, who returned to power. Gladstone then introduced in Parliament the first Home Rule Bill (1886), but the Liberal party split on the issue, and Gladstone's government fell again. In 1887, the London Times printed a series of hostile articles called "Parnellism and Crime," ending with a facsimile letter, purporting to carry Parnell's signature and apologizing for his denunciation of the Phoenix Park murders. A special commission found (1889) that the letter had been forged; and, although some of Parnell's activities were censured, he and his associates were exonerated.
Fall from Power
In 1889, Parnell was named as corespondent in a divorce suit brought by one of Parnell's colleagues, Captain O'Shea, against his wife, Katharine. Adultery was proved, the divorce granted (1890), and in 1891, Parnell married Katharine. The episode ruined his political influence; he was denounced both by the English liberals and by the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Ireland, and the Irish nationalists split into Parnellites and anti-Parnellites. His efforts to reunite the party failed and broke his health.
See biography by R. B. O'Brien (2 vol., 1898; repr. 1968); studies by C. C. O'Brien (1954, rev. ed. 1957), F. S. L. Lyons (1960, 1977), J. Abels (1966), M. Hurst (1968), R. R. Foster (1976), A. O'Day (1986), D. Boyce (1991), and R. Kee (1994).
Parnell, Charles Stewart
Born June 27, 1846, in Avondale, County Wicklow; died Oct. 6, 1891, in Brighton, Sussex. Irish politician and leader of the Home Rule movement (from 1877).
Parnell was elected in 1875 to the British Parliament, where he used obstructionist tactics to exert pressure on the English ruling classes. He advocated broad autonomy for Ireland, without severing constitutional ties to Great Britain. Recognizing the need for the support of the masses, Parnell allied himself with the radical wing of the Irish movement, which included such figures as J. Devoy and M. Davitt. In 1879 he helped found the Land League and then became its president.
Parnell was arrested on Oct. 13, 1881, and confined until May 1882 in the Kilmainham jail, where he concluded the conciliatory Kilmainham Treaty with the British Liberal government. Parnell curtailed the agitation for agrarian demands and from that time on tried to attain Home Rule primarily by parliamentary means. In an attempt to discredit Parnell, English reactionaries conducted a campaign of organized harassment, accusing him of alleged immoral acts. In late 1890 the right-wing majority of the Home Rulers removed Parnell from the leadership.
REFERENCESMarx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vols. 34–37. (See the index of names.)
Tarle, E. V. “Charlz Parnel’: Stranitsa iz istorii Anglii i Irlandii.” Soch., vol. 1. Moscow, 1957.
O’Brien, C. C. Parnell and His Party, 1880–1890. Oxford, 1957.
L. I. GOL’MAN