'Our American Aristotle' Henry George and the Republican tradition during the Transatlantic Irish Land War, 1877-1887.
Phemister, Andrew James
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This thesis examines the relationship between Henry George and the Irish on both sides of the Atlantic and, detailing the ideological interaction between George’s republicanism and Irish nationalism, argues that his uneven appeal reveals the contours of the construction of Gilded Age Irish-America. The work assesses the functionality and operation, in both Ireland and the US, of Irish culture as a dynamic but discordant friction within the Anglophone world. Ireland’s unique geopolitical position and its religious constitution nurtured an agrarianism that shared its intellectual roots with American republicanism. This study details how the crisis of Irish land invigorated both traditions as an effective oppositional culture to the processes of modernity. The Land War placed Ireland at the centre of a briefly luminous political upheaval that extended far beyond its own shores and positioned the country as a site of ideological conflict at a critical juncture in the history of political thought. Irish nationalism helped to perpetuate a specific aggregation of moral and economic principles, and, in equating British imperial force with the worst depredations of capital, Irish-Americans tapped into a powerful seam in American political culture that universalised the struggle of the Irish tenant farmers. Just as many contemporaries framed Irish politics with the ideals of the American republic, this thesis argues that Irish politics during the Land War, ever more interdependent on its diaspora, is better understood in relation to American political discourse than British.