Irish Leader Charles Stewart Parnell Raises Money to Improve the Condition of the Irish People

He seeks to develop rural Ireland

He looks to those “most liberally and favorably disposed towards any scheme for ameliorating the condition of the people of Ireland”

Charles Stewart Parnell was elected to Parliament in April 1875. Within two years he distinguished himself by his indifference to the opinion of the House of Commons and his sensitivity to...

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Irish Leader Charles Stewart Parnell Raises Money to Improve the Condition of the Irish People

He seeks to develop rural Ireland

He looks to those “most liberally and favorably disposed towards any scheme for ameliorating the condition of the people of Ireland”

Charles Stewart Parnell was elected to Parliament in April 1875. Within two years he distinguished himself by his indifference to the opinion of the House of Commons and his sensitivity to Irish nationalist opinion. He embraced the policy of obstructing English legislation in order to draw attention to Ireland’s needs, and his striking presence and commanding personality gave him a powerful appeal. In September 1877 the Home Rule Confederation of Great Britain elected Parnell its president. He had become, at age 31, the most conspicuous figure in Irish politics. His goal was to fight for the interests and autonomy of Ireland.

In 1883, Parliament passed the Tramways and Public Companies (Ireland) Act, whose intent was to open up rural areas by providing capital for people moving there. He saw this as a development exercise for rural Ireland and formed a company, the Irish Land Purchase and Settlement Company. He solicited donations from people sympathetic to the cause and invested 2000 pounds of his own money.

Letter signed, on House of Commons letterhead, August 26, 1883, to J.P. Thomasson, a wealthy textile manufacturer and Member of Parliament, marked “private.” “Dear Sir, I desire to bring under your notice, as one of those are known to be most liberally and favorably disposed towards any scheme for ameliorating the condition of the people of Ireland, the enclosed suggested draft of a circular which explains itself to a great extent.

“In order to carry out the provisions of part II of the Tramways and Public Companies (Ireland) Act, 1883, it is important to form a Committee of influential and well known persons known to be interested in a scheme such as this, which aims at social and material progress in Ireland. It is desired that the Committee so formed shall include gentlemen of position without distinction of party, and of various shades of opinion. I should attach much value to your prompt adhesion to these proposals, and shall hope to hear from you that you will join the Committee and to have your authority to attach your name to the circular of which I enclose draft, and which it is proposed at a later date to issue more extensively.

“It will of course also be desirable to make at as early a date as possible an announcement of important subscriptions, with which to head the list I may mention that I intend to subscribe 2000 pounds; the Roman Catholic Bishop of Raphoe subscribes 1,000; Mr. Earnest Harte 500; and other subscriptions are expected from gentlemen whose names I am waiting their authority to public.

“Awaiting the favor an early reply.”

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