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Davitt, Michael (1846–1906)

William H. Mulligan, Jr.


Michael Davitt was a revolutionary and politician active in several Irish nationalist organizations. He first joined the Fenian movement – the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) – but was expelled after announcing his commitment to achieve Irish independence through means other than physical force. Davitt then joined with Charles Stewart Parnell to create the Land League of Ireland, and continued throughout his career to advocate Irish land reform. Davitt was born March 25, 1846 at Straide, County Mayo, Ireland. In 1852 his family was evicted from their land and settled in Haslingden, Lancashire, England. Davitt went to work at an early age in a local cotton mill. When he was 11 he lost his right arm in an industrial accident. He was able to attend school for a few years before going to work for a printer in 1861. Soon after joining the Fenians in 1865 Davit rose to the leadership of his circle. During an attempted uprising in 1867 he led a contingent in an attempt to seize a large cache of weapons at Chester Castle in the northwest of England. The attack failed, but Davitt and his men managed to avoid capture. For several years he was organizing secretary for the IRB in England and Scotland, during which time he worked as a traveling firearms salesman. In 1870 Davitt was convicted of felony treason and sentenced to 15 years in prison, but – through the efforts of Isaac Butt ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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