Saturday, April 17, 2010

Danl. O’Connell, Esqr. Published under the patronage of the Society of Ireland in Philadelphia…Mathew Carey,Chairman. Philadelphia: Mathew Carey, 1831

In 1823, O’Connell founded The Catholic Association. It was organized at the parish level with modest dues so everyone could join. The dues were called “Catholic Rent” to stress that the Law kept Catholics from owning land outright. O’Connell delicately negotiated the Church’s role in The Association. It was no small feat: Church hierarchy did not want to politicize religion. Priests would collect the ‘rents’ and organize public meetings, but not chair them. They would be local helpers, but leadership was restricted to laymen. The Association was harassed and finally banned by the government. O’Connell swiftly founded The New Catholic Association for ‘public or private charity.’ Public meetings multiplied and grew in size. O’Connell addressed as many of these gatherings as he could, suited his accent to the audience, stirred-up the crowds to sign his petitions, and organized a run on the banks. He kept the government in apprehension of a rebellion. Protestant land owners, fearing destruction of property, issued a declaration calling for immediate Catholic emancipation. In England, a Catholic Emancipation Bill which removed the Protestant loyalty oath requirement from holding most offices was passed on April 10, 1829.


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