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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