April 22, 1834

On this day in 1834, Daniel O’Connell, the Irish political leader often referred to as “The Liberator” or “The Emancipator,” sparked a debate in the British House of Commons by calling for a repeal to the 1801 Act of Union. During a five-hour speech, O’Connell questioned the 2/17 tax that Britain had levied on Ireland, calling it a “fraction purposely introduced in order that Ireland might be robbed with greater facility.” Previously, O’Connell had successfully campaigned for the right for Catholics to sit in the Westminster Parliament. A critic of violent insurrection and a staunch abolitionist, he would serve as an inspiration to Frederick Douglass, and later to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

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