Grattan: The Speeches of the Right Honorable Henry Grattan in the Irish and Imperial Parliament

Pdf ed. Grattan Jnr, Henry, The Speeches of the Right Honorable Henry Grattan in the Irish and Imperial Parliament, Volume I, Dublin: R. Milliken, 1822
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Pdf ed. Grattan Jnr, Henry, The Speeches of the Right Honorable Henry Grattan in the Irish and Imperial Parliament, Volume II, Dublin: R. Milliken, 1822
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Pdf ed. Grattan Jnr, Henry, The Speeches of the Right Honorable Henry Grattan in the Irish and Imperial Parliament, Volume III, Dublin: R. Milliken, 1822
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Pdf ed. Grattan Jnr, Henry, Miscellaneous Works of the Right Honorable Henry Grattan, Dublin: R. Milliken, 1822
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The Speeches of the Right Honorable Henry Grattan in the Irish and Imperial Parliament edited by his son Henry Grattan Jnr. was published in four volumes in 1822. The four volumes contain the speeches, writings and correspondence of the Irish parliamentarian Henry Grattan. Grattan's long political career spanned a crucial period of Irish and British history before and after the American and French revolutions, the 1798 United Irishmen rebellion and the Act of Union 1800.

Henry Grattan was born in 1746 at Fishamble St. , Dublin into a wealthy and influential Anglo-Irish Protestant family. His father was James Grattan MP (d.1766) while his maternal grandfather Sir Thomas Marlay had been Attorney-General of Ireland , Chief Baron of the Exchequer and Lord Chief Justice of the Court of the King's Bench. Grattan studied classical literature and oratory at Trinity College , Dublin and at the King's Inns before being called to the bar in 1772. He became good friends with Henry Flood and entered the Irish Parliament sponsored by Lord Charlemont in 1775.

Since the 12th century Norman conquest , Ireland had experienced repeated rebellions by the native Gaelic Irish. After the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, the Gaelic Irish and 'Old English' Norman gentry remained Catholic. Ireland became a battleground between the Protestant English monarchy and the Catholic monarchs of France and Spain who supported repeated Irish Catholic rebellions. Meanwhile British Protestant settlers began the colonisation of Ireland .

After the decisive victory of King William III of Orange who defeated the Catholic James II at the Battle of Boyne in 1690, British Protestant settlers controlled the entire country. A series of draconian Penal Laws persecuted Presbyterians and the Irish Catholic majority, excluding them from political power. By the late 18th century the Irish Parliament in existence since the 12th century was an exclusively Anglo-Irish Protestant assembly representing Anglo-Irish Protestant interests. However the Irish legislature was forbidden from making its own laws without British approval.

When the British government sought to centralize trade, taxation and judicial review throughout the British Empire , American colonists resisted before open rebellion broke out in 1775. By 1783, British military intervention had been defeated and the thirteen New World colonies had become the United States of America .

Inspired by the Americans, Grattan and Henry Flood formed the Irish Patriot Party which sought similar liberties in Ireland . Grattan became well known for his oratorical skills which he used to passionately champion his cause. The Irish Volunteers, a Protestant militia raised ostensibly to ward off French invasion, stoked British fears of yet another rebellion in Ireland .

The Constitution of 1782 was created and secured many of the Patriots' demands but unlike the Americans, Grattan remained loyal to the Crown. He endeavored to implement reforms including free trade between Britain and Ireland , repeal of the penal laws and favoured Catholic emancipation. However conservative opposition defeated many of Grattan's liberalising efforts but succeeded in securing a limited Catholic franchise. By 1798, Grattan had retired from politics.

Radical Anglo-Irish Protestants, Presbyterians and Irish Catholics already excluded and repressed became more extreme. Inspired following the success of the American colonists and French revolution of 1789, they sought to overthrow British Crown and to create an independent Irish republic. They launched a bloody rebellion with French assistance in 1798. It was put down only with British military intervention and heavy loss of life.

The British government sought to unify the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland and absorb the Irish parliament into the British Commons in London . Anglo-Irish Protestants fearing future Irish Catholic rebellion and an imminent French invasion supported the proposal. Henry Grattan bitterly opposed the plan but nonetheless the Act of Union 1800 became law creating the United Kingdom . Robert Emmet was executed following an abortive rebellion in Dublin in 1803.

Grattan continued his political career, taking his seat in the British Commons and supporting the grueling war against the French Emperor Napoleon that resulted in victory in 1815. He also continued to unsuccessfully campaign for repeal of the Act of Union and gave his final speech to the British Commons in 1819. Henry Grattan died in 1820 and was buried in Westminister Abbey, London .

Following his death his son Henry Grattan Jnr (1789-1859) was a member of the Whig party in the British Commons. Like his father he was also a barrister before becoming a politician. He was a contemporary of the Catholic MP Daniel O'Connell, supporting Catholic emancipation and repeal of the Act of Union. He later stood for election as a member of the Liberal Party but lost his seat in 1852. He died in 1859.


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