This is a book about Irish nationalism and how Irish nationalists developed their own conception of the Irish race. Bruce Nelson begins with an exploration of the discourse of race--from the nineteenth--century belief that "race is everything" to the more recent argument that there are no races. He focuses on how English observers constructed the "native" and Catholic Irish as uncivilized and savage, and on the racialization of the Irish in the nineteenth century, especially in Britain and the United States, where Irish immigrants were often portrayed in terms that had been applied mainly to enslaved Africans and their descendants. Most of the book focuses on how the Irish created their own identity--in the context of slavery and abolition, empire, and revolution. Since the Irish were a dispersed people, this process unfolded not only in Ireland, but in the United States, Britain, Australia, South Africa, and other countries. Many nationalists were determined to repudiate anything that could interfere with the goal of building a united movement aimed at achieving full independence for Ireland.
But others, including men and women who are at the heart of this study, believed that the Irish struggle must create a more inclusive sense of Irish nationhood and stand for freedom everywhere. Nelson pays close attention to this argument within Irish nationalism, and to the ways it resonated with nationalists worldwide, from India to the Caribbean.
Bruce Nelson is professor emeritus of history at Dartmouth College. He is the author of Divided We Stand: American Workers and the Struggle for Black Equality (Princeton) and Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s.
List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgments xi Part 1. The Making of the Irish Race Prologue: Arguing about (the Irish) Race 3 Chapter 1. "The blood of an Irishman": The English Construction of the Irish Race, 1534-1801 17 Chapter 2. Celts, Hottentots, and "white chimpanzees": The Racialization of the Irish in the Nineteenth Century 30 Part 2. Ireland, Slavery, and Abolition Chapter 3. "Come out of such a land, you Irishmen": Daniel O'Connell, American Slavery, and the Making of the Irish Race 57 Chapter 4. "The Black O'Connell of the United States": Frederick Douglass and Ireland 86 Part 3. Ireland and Empire Chapter 5. "From the Cabins of Connemara to the Kraals of Kaffirland": Irish Nationalists, the British Empire, and the "Boer Fight for Freedom" 121 Chapter 6. "Because we are white men": Erskine Childers, Jan Christian Smuts, and the Irish Quest for Self-Government, 1899-1922 148 Part 4. Ireland and Revolution Chapter 7. Negro Sinn Feiners and Black Fenians: "Heroic Ireland" and the Black Nationalist Imagination 181 Chapter 8. "The Irish are for freedom everywhere": Eamon de Valera, the Irish Patriotic Strike, and the"last white nation ... deprived of its liberty" 212 Epilogue: The Ordeal of the Irish Republic 242 Notes 259 Index 323