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O’Connell, Daniel (1775-1847)
Letter Signed, Merrion Square, Dublin August 4th, 1843, to Monsr. Leduc Rollin, Member of the Chamber of Deputies, Paris

Quarto, two pages of a bi-folium, the main text is written in a secretarial or clerk’s hand, possibly dictated, the closing and O’Connell’s signature is in his hand, there are two corrections to the text in O’Connell’s hand as well. Formerly folded, in very good clean and legible condition.

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O’Connell needs little introduction. O’Connell in the present letter thanks Rollin for his support, it is written at a critical time in O’Connell’s career, during the period of his “monster meetings”, the Repeal Movement, and just before his arrest and imprisonment in 1844. Written in response to a letter from Rollin it contains a concise statement of O’Connell’s goals and principles, and it reads:

        “Sir,

             It is my pleasing duty to acknowledge the receipt of the letter with which you have hnoured me, and to express my individual thanks for that letter. It is also my pleasing duty to convey to you the respectful gratitude of the Repeal Association for the sentiments of liberality and justice which you have displayed in that communication.

             We understand each other perfectly, your present countenance and sympathy is bestowed upon men who are struggling within the limits of local law and constitutional principle for the rights and liberties of their native Land – of men who desire to use no other means than those which are peaceable means, having no other efficacy than that which arises from their moral force and power.

             You indeed allude to another contingency in which you may be disposed to be more active in our support, but that is a contingency which we decline to discuss, because we now deem it impossible that it should arise, the British Government having retracted every menace of illegal force and unjust violence and confirming its resistance to our claims; - If it shall continue to resist those claims; - within the ordinary channels of legalized administration.

             That the London and Parisian journals belonging to the class inimicable to Civil and religious liberty should misrepresent our mutual intentions and motives, is a matter of course, even when those motives and intentions are publickly expressed, and have the advantage of exhibiting the turpitude of our calumniators, but we strongly apprehend that that the visit which you have intimated that you might make to this country would whilst it could be of no practical utility afford opportunity for further calumny and for mischievous (though utterly false) insinuations. –

             Upon these grounds we deem your contemplated visit to Ireland in anything resembling a public capacity as being to say the least of it premature.

              Permit me respectfully to add that if at a more suitable period you should ever have leisure and inclination to visit Ireland I should be very proud indeed to be permitted the honour and favor of exercising during your sojourn, the rites of hospitality towards you.

             To conclude, let me assure you that the Irish People are exceedingly gratified by the sympathy for their sufferings which you and your nobly minded friends proclaim, you do us but justice when you appreciate our principles – they are the principles of democratic liberty mitigated and secured by the stability of a restricted Monarchy the principles of Civil and Religious liberty enforcing practical justice thus combining the freedom of Religion the freedom of Education, the preedom of the press, and the freedom of all popular Institutions with the fixity of Monarchial authority. This genuine liberty can be maintained and secured only on the basis of veneration for the religious sentiment and of disinterested sincereity in practical religious observances.

             Be pleased, Sir, to accept the emphatic expression of the sentiments of respect and esteem with which I have the honour to be

                                                         Your faithful and Obedient Servant

                                                                                Daniel O’Connell”

 

              “Daniel O’Connell, political leader, was born near Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry; educated at Saint-Omer, Douai, and London. After early success as a barrister he became increasingly involved in politics and was active from his early thirties onwards in the campaign for Catholic Emancipation. Though he gained popularity with fellow Catholics for his opposition to the Veto, it was not until he jointly founded the Catholic Association in 1823 and became its chief spokesman that he began to dominate nationalist politics. O’Connell’s suggestion that the association open its ranks to anyone who could pay a subscription of one penny a month (the Catholic Rent) transformed this body into a mass political organization that was without precedent in Europe. His stunning victory in the Clare election in 1828 led directly to the attainment of Catholic Emancipation, which earned him the title of ‘the Liberator’. In Parliament he and like-minded MPs eventually allied themselves with the Whigs to obtain social legislation for Ireland by means of the Litchfield House Compact. His ultimate goal was repeal of the Act of Union, and this became the focus of his final years. The Repeal Movement that he led after 1842 culminated in his arrest and brief imprisonment in 1844. On his release it became increasingly apparent that his once-formidable physical and mental powers were on the wane. His last days were clouded by quarrels with former Young Ireland allies, which split the nationalist movement.

             O’Connell ranks among the greatest figures of modern Irish political history. His skills as a layer, orator, political organizer and parliamentarian, together with his legendary charisma, earned him the admiration of millions of contemporaries, who looked upon him as ‘Ireland’s uncrowned monarch’. Subsequent generations of nationalists, particularly physical-force separatists, were more ambivalent, praising his organizational skills while criticizing his opposition to armed rebellion as a means of achieving Irish self-government. He also had a major influence on the emergence of European Christian democracy.” – The Encylopedia of Ireland (New Haven: 2003) p. 804.