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What Sort of Country Would it be Today, Had We Achieved Independence in 1798?


ruserious

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Wolfe Tone's call for a Secular Nation is possibly one of the most intriguing aspects of 'what-if' histories open to examination in relation to the modern state of Ireland.

"To subvert the tyranny of our execrable government, to break the connection with England, the never failing source of all our political evils, and to assert the independence of my country--these were my objects. To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissentions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman, in the place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic, and Dissenter--these were my means." Wolfe Tone.

What if....Wolfe Tone had achieved independence in 1798?

Would we have been a true republic under real republican values as espoused by Montesquieu or Locke?

It is plausible to suggest that had we became a Republic in 1798, we would have avoided the rot caused by the Catholic Church in the 19th and 20th Century. We would probably have been a liberal nation ála Scandinavia where religion did not influence the State and the value of citizenship was held in high regard.

But not being a big history buff, I would like to invite the board to reply to how they believe the State of Ireland would have developed had we achieved independence in 1798.

The 'famine', the troubles, our neutrality are all aspects which can be examined.
 

Protestant/Catholic=Irish

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Although it is more common for Protestants to hate Catholics than vice-versa nowadays, it was the Catholics who ruined the trust between both religions when they massacred Protestant prisoners in Wexford.

Had they not done that, it is very possible that the ideals of the United Irishmen and the vast majority of Irish republicans could have become reality.
 

ruserious

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Although it is more common for Protestants to hate Catholics than vice-versa nowadays, it was the Catholics who ruined the trust between both religions when they massacred Protestant prisoners in Wexford.

Had they not done that, it is very possible that the ideals of the United Irishmen and the vast majority of Irish republicans could have become reality.
I think as a nation, we need to become familiar with the ideals of 1798 and forget about the romanticised crap of 1916. Civil war politics had delivered us a plate of cute-hoorism and it is that platter, which is a dish best served cold...and in the bin.
 

Rural

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In 1798, Protestants and Catholics fought alongside each other. Yes, there were a few atrocities against Protestants but then there is a gurrier element attracted to any war or skirmish.

I live at Oulart Hill, where a battle was won for the rebels, the monument commerating it is beautiful.

Fr. Murphy was an accidental tourist in the middle of it all and was dragged in by association to others who he tried to protect, he was "shopped" by a family of Byrnes in Carlow.

The main thing is... It would have been a different Republic, as DeVelara wouldn't have been involved.
 

Boy M5

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The defining points in our history prior to independence were the Act of Union and the Famine.
The first wouldn't have happened, the second?
 

ruserious

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The defining points in our history prior to independence were the Act of Union and the Famine.
The first wouldn't have happened, the second?
I think a republic would have looked after its people better than an empire ruled from London which influcenced the mass exports of food products. A disease may have occured but a republican government would have dealt with it better I would have thought.
 

Ren84

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I think about this from time to time. Who's to say we wouldn't have evolved into a Swiss style multi-ethnic state, with maximum autonomy for each county, a strong military to guard our neutrality and maybe, just maybe, one or two overseas territories. ;)
 

Ren84

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I think a republic would have looked after its people better than an empire ruled from London which influcenced the mass exports of food products. A disease may have occured but a republican government would have dealt with it better I would have thought.
Famine probably would still have occurred but would have been less severe due to a greater response by the Dublin government.
 

ruserious

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I think about this from time to time. Who's to say we wouldn't have evolved into a Swiss style multi-ethnic state, with maximum autonomy for each county, a strong military to guard our neutrality and maybe, just maybe, one or two overseas territories. ;)
Even DeV was advised that an Irish colony could be set up in part of Sudan!
I still have my eye on Montserrat in the Caribbean if this country every has the misfortune for electing me to national office :cool:
 

Glaucon

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Britain would have remained the greatest maritime power in the world. We would have had to have a very close relationship with her or risk blockade or invasion; it is unknown how this would have evolved. We would likely have had little international independence.

We may, however, have been able to avert the Famine, the decline in the Irish language and the subsequent Ulster problem. The evil of absentee landlords would likely also have been righted.
 

petaljam

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A fascinating question. I don't know enough on the subject to have much of an opinion, but I wonder what effect posters think that the (I assume) continued use of Irish as the main language would have had today.

Would it have been a positive unifying effect, replacing the role of Catholicism as an identity, increasing national confidence, or would the fact of speaking an unimportant language no-one else spoke have been the most important factor?

Actually even that could be good or bad, depending - would we have been linguists like the Dutch, and possibly the Swiss, or would we have been unable to make our presence felt anywhere else in the world?
 

ruserious

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Actually the GAA may never have developed.
 

Analyzer

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Correction concerning Protestants and Catholics fighting alongside each other.

Some Catholics, some Angicans and some Presbyterians against some paid Catholics, paid Anglicans, and the regime.

The Orange order was founded to prevent a split ever occurring henceforth in the Protestant section of the population. It was highly successfuly in the Northeast of the Island.

Apart from that it is difficult to say with regard to the progress of the island. Ireland had no coal or iron ore, and would have been slow to develop an Industrial Revolution. Even when it hit Belfats it was about five decades behind Glasgow or Lancashire

1798 was probably more realistically inspired by the American Revolution than the French Revolution. By 1798, the French Revolution had turned into a murderous, directionless mayhem. A state inspired by the French Revolution would have been a bigger disaster than what the state became after CJH.

The British would have been back in charge within a decade. People forget that in the French Revolutionary wars, many European countries regared the British as upholders of freedom against the local detachment of thugs in French uniform who robbed all around them.
 
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Ren84

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Even DeV was advised that an Irish colony could be set up in part of Sudan!
I still have my eye on Montserrat in the Caribbean if this country every has the misfortune for electing me to national office :cool:
Cromwell had plenty of Irish shipped to the Caribbean as slave labour, so their descendants would probably welcome our ships turning up to hoist the Tricolour. I nominate Cuba for our first conquest! :)
 

Ren84

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Actually the GAA may never have developed.
A good point. We might have ended up like the other ex British crown colonies where the people had a more Anglo oriented outlook than the Gaelic revival which marked the 19th century in Ireland.
 

ruserious

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A good point. We might have ended up like the other ex British crown colonies where the people had a more Anglo oriented outlook than the Gaelic revival which marked the 19th century in Ireland.
True. We could be in the commonwealth today. The only thing distinguishing us from the Brits being our sense of Liberty, equality and fraternity. Makes the whole concept of a nation pretty inept when you think about it.
 

JohnD66

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I think people romaticise 1798 far too much. THe level of bloodshed was horrific and sectarian atrocities on both sides way beyond anything seen in 1916-23.

But in answer to the original post, in the highly unlikely event that the revolutionaries of 1798 had succeeded, Ireland would have been a client of revolutionary France for a few years then would have had to go it alone after 1815. There's no guarentee that in between Napoleon would not have imposed his own choice on a newly minted Irish throne as he did on other republics founded in the first flush of revolutionary enthusiasm (Belgium and Holland for instance).

So it might have resulted in a democratic republic but it might not have. In the mid 19th century the only place in the world with universal manhood suffrage was the United States. Even by the end of the century France was the only other as far as I know.

But I think one of he most significant differences would have been that Protestant nationalists would have ledthe political class in an imaginary post 1798 republic. This might have meant more enlightened secular government but it might also have meant no land reform in order not to alienate their liberal co-religionists in the gentry. One would imagine the 'tory' landowners would have been expropriated after a successful revolution.

THe Catholic Church would still have wanted to exert its control over education and health as it did anyway in the course of the 19th century. What efect would this have had on Irish politics? Remember the Catholic Church was extremely hostile by and large to the United Irishmen. The only positive thing is that the United Irishmen would almost certainly have abolished tithes and taxes to the Anglican Church which would have lanced a lot of popular Catholic resentment.

Almost certainly the population would have continued to rise and the famine crisis of the 1840s would have happened anyway. How a republican government would have dealt with it we can only imagine. Maybe better but they would have had much less tax income at thier disposal than British governments so they might have done just as badly.
 

hiding behind a poster

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We wouldn't have been independent for long, though. In the 19th century we were a small island of strategic importance to anyone who wanted to attack Britain. If we'd got our independence the French would've been along soon enough to put an end to it, or the British again to prevent them.
 

ruserious

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We wouldn't have been independent for long, though. In the 19th century we were a small island of strategic importance to anyone who wanted to attack Britain. If we'd got our independence the French would've been along soon enough to put an end to it, or the British again to prevent them.
As JohnD66 notes, we probably would have began life as a satellite state of France due to their involvement in 1798. How subsequent European wars would have affected us is only guesswork but still fascinating to contempt.
 

hiding behind a poster

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Almost certainly the population would have continued to rise and the famine crisis of the 1840s would have happened anyway. How a republican government would have dealt with it we can only imagine. Maybe better but they would have had much less tax income at thier disposal than British governments so they might have done just as badly.
The principle of governments helping poor people just didn't exist in the 1840s - an Irish government would've been no different in that regard.
 
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