Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race

By Bruce Nelson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
“Come out of such a land, you Irishmen”

DANIEL O’CONNELL, AMERICAN SLAVERY, AND THE
MAKING OF THE IRISH RACE

No man, in the wide world, has spoken so strongly against the soul-
drivers of this land as O’Connell.

—William Lloyd Garrison, 1842

Over the broad Atlantic I pour my voice, saying, “Come out of such
a land, you Irishmen, or, if you remain, and dare countenance the
system of slavery that is supported there, we will recognize you as
Irishmen no longer.”

—Daniel O’Connell, 1843

The opposition of Irishmen in America to the colored man is not so
much a Hibernianism as an Americanism.

—Black abolitionist William C. Nell, 1847

CHARLES LENOX REMOND, an African American from Salem, Massachusetts, first met Daniel O’Connell in 1840, at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London and was overwhelmed by the encounter.1 “For thirteen years have I thought myself an abolitionist,” he reported to a friend, “but I had been in a measure mistaken, until I listened to the… fearless O’Connell.” Only then was Remond “moved to think, and feel, and speak” as a true abolitionist thought and felt and spoke. William Lloyd Garrison, the preeminent voice of radical abolitionism in the United States, was no less impressed. He told his wife, Helen, that the Irishman’s words at the convention were “received with a storm of applause that almost shook the building to its foundations. The spectacle was sublime and heart-stirring beyond all power of description on my part.” The plain-living, plain-spoken Garrison was no respecter of persons; he vowed to be “as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice.” But he could not help but tell his wife, with obvious pride, “I have shaken hands with O’Connell repeatedly.”2

Although O’Connell’s fame stretched from Ireland to Britain to the European continent, and from there to the Americas, his reputation derived first and foremost from the campaign for Catholic Emancipation he led in his native

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