Michael Davitt


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Davitt, Michael

 

Born Mar. 25, 1846, at Straide in County Mayo; died May 31, 1906, in Dublin. Irish revolutionary democrat.

The son of a small tenant farmer, Davitt began to participate actively in the Fenian movement in 1865, and in 1870 he was sentenced to 15 years of penal labor. He was freed in 1877 and kept under police surveillance. Recognizing the failure of the conspiratorial, terrorist tactics of the Fenians, he proposed combining a mass movement for agrarian reform with parliamentary and extraparliamentary struggle for national independence. In 1879, Davitt and Parnell organized the Land League. In 1890, Davitt broke with the bourgeois leaders of the movement for home rule.

Associating closely with the workers’ movement, Davitt accepted socialist ideas. He became a member of Parliament in 1895, but in 1899 he resigned in protest over the unleashing of the Boer War of 1899-1902. Davitt was an active participant in the Committee for Worker Representation. (Founded in 1900, the committee became the Labor Party in 1906.) He was sympathetic toward the revolutionary movement in Russia.

L. I. GOL’MAN

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Carla King, Michael Davitt, Historical Association of Ireland (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2009, 120 pp., [euro]17 paperback)
It was largely thanks to one man, Michael Davitt, and to the Land League that he organized to agitate for tenant rights, that this growing wave of protest escalated into the Land War.
In a reference to Michael Davitt, of the original Land League which fought for the rights of poor Irish farmers in the 19th century, Mr Ferriter added: "Mr Davitt must be turning in his grave."
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THIS NEW international edition of Bernard O'Hara's concise, well-written, and richly illustrated account of Michael Davitt's life and achievements, first published in Ireland in 2006 by the Mayo County Council, provides an excellent overview of his career and contributions to modern Ireland.
Many moderate nationalists were happy to have the lid kept on wilder spirits as they were making the argument for Home Rule, and he enjoyed civil relations with figures such as Michael Davitt and Patrick Egan.
The author of this biography begins with the important reminder that Michael Davitt was not yet forty when the Kilmainham Treaty was signed (11).
Archbishop Thomas William Croke, Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Davitt were the first patrons.
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Laurence Marley, Michael Davitt: Freelance Radical and Frondeur (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007, 314 pp., 40.50 [euro] hardback) Bernard O'Hara, Davitt (Westport: Mayo County Council, 2006, 136 pp., 18 [euro] hardback)
Indeed, Michael Davitt liked to quote carefully chosen passages from Froude where he excoriated British rule in Ireland in judgements such as: "It cannot be said that England deserved to keep a country which it mismanaged so disastrously." Yet, as Brady points out, it was not so much Irish nationalism as Catholicism that worried Froude, and especially as it Was given new vigor in Irish-America.