Recent Acquisition: Tenants, Evictions and Newspapers: a volume of cartoons from the Weekly Freeman

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

The Weekly Freeman Cartoons contains 48 full-page cartoons bound into a single volume.  The cartoons cover the period from December 1886 to December 1887 and were published on Saturdays as weekly supplements to the Freeman’s Journal.

The Freeman’s Journal, the major Irish nationalist newspaper, was published in Dublin from 1763 to 1924. During the 1880s the newspaper was owned by Edmund Dwyer Gray, who was a Home Rule MP. During his ownership, circulation went up to over 30,000 copies per day.

“IN THE HOUSE” (12 February 1887) shows Charles Stewart Parnell, MP, leader of the Irish Party and of the Irish National Land League (founded by 1879), addressing Prime Minister Salisbury, who sits uncomfortably beside a woman representing the evicted tenants of Glenbeigh. Like most cartoons in this volume, this one comments on relations between Britain and Ireland, and in this case refers to the Land War and to the infamous evictions at Glenbeigh, County Kerry.

While the eviction of tenants for nonpayment of rent was relatively frequent, the Land War brought new attention to the Irish and British public about individual evictions through the use of images and descriptions. The Glenbeigh Evictions were much reported at the time and dramatically illustrated in the Illustrated London News. Glenbeigh, County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland was the scene of these evictions. An economic recession and poor harvests had increased agitation among tenant farmers faced with eviction. The landowner received very little rent on the many smallholdings on his land that he inherited, and with high arrears owed in rent, a court ordered 70 of the 300 tenants to pay one year’s rent. However, Father Thomas Quilter, the tenants’ parish priest, and J. D. Sheehan, their MP, advised the tenants to reject this offer.

And so the evictions began on 11 January 1887. Bailiffs burned down cabins and broke down walls to ensure that the evicted families could not return. These evictions received widespread attention, and by the end of January forty families had been evicted. The Detroit Free Press of 22 January 1887 reported on the evictions with the following headline: “POVERTY-STRICKEN PEOPLE. Father Quilter, of Glenbeigh, Says His are too Poor to Pay Rent. THEY ARE LARGELY DEPENDENT ON THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF OTHERS.” Newspaper reporting fluctuates widely between sympathy for the tenants in the face of barbarity such as in the Chicago Daily Tribune and consistent condemnation of the tenants and their leaders from the Irish Times.

The caption for “IN THE HOUSE” in the Weekly Freeman from 12 February 1887 reads:

Parnell to Salisbury. — You thought to force this poor creature into the Poorhouse, and shut her up there, but I have brought her into your own House, where she shall be seen and heard too.

Accompanying the cartoon is a ballad, “Parnell to Salisbury” that expands upon this theme. In the second verse, the victim, represented by the woman in the cartoon, also represents the many stories and illustrations of this eviction. The Roe mentioned here is Lanford Roe, the landlord’s agent who directed each eviction in Glenbeigh.

The truth is out! your victim stands
And tells her tale of confiscation,
Of burning cots, evicting bands,
Famine, and widespread desolation!
You little thought Roe’s brutal brands
Would raise so fierce a conflagration!

This volume of cartoons and accompanying ballads and verses appears to have belonged to nationalist archbishop Thomas William Croke (1823-1902). On its flyleaf appears the following inscription:

To His Grace, The Most Revd. Dr. Croke, Archbishop of Cashel.
White Abbey Bazaar 1888
With Father Staples Prayers and Best Wishes.

Felix M, Larkin’s essay, “‘A Great Daily Organ’: The Freeman’s Journal,” History Ireland 14 (2006): 44-49 is an excellent introduction to the newspaper. For information on the Glenbeigh Evictions, see L. Perry Curtis, Jr., The Depiction of Eviction in Ireland 1845-1910, University College Dublin Press, 2011.

African American History Month

“Paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society” – We join the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Museum to observe African American History Month.

 

African Americans and Populism
by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian

In this 1894 poster, the Democratic Party of Georgia felt the warm breath of third party competition on the back of its neck. The unnamed “Third Party” was the People’s Party of the United States, also known as the Populists.

The Populists were established in 1892 by a coalition of famers in the South and Midwestern plains states who believed that eastern banks and railroads, supported by government policies, exploited them with expensive credit and transportation. They were joined by industrial workers who criticized the major parties for being controlled by corporate and financial elites. In the 1892 election Populists won three governorships and 15 Congressional seats. It was the period’s most significant political insurgency.

In Georgia, the Populist wave had captured the allegiance of so many white Democrats by 1894 that the balance of political power had shifted to African Americans. If they swung their support from the minority Republican Party to the People’s Party, Democrats would lose control.

Panicked Democrats cravenly released broadsides like this one, which attempted to browbeat African American voters away from the People’s Party by threatening less public support for their children’s education. Despite such heavy-handed tactics, many African American farmers in Georgia supported Populism, as black farmers did across the South.

Georgia Democrats grimly hung onto power by mobilizing white voters against “Negro supremacy,” intimidating black voters, and outright vote fraud. Although Populism’s appeal had increased in rural states like Georgia in 1894, nationally the party lost ground. By the 1896 presidential election, the Democratic Party shrewdly absorbed part of the Populist’s platform and the agrarian revolt was checked.

Special Collections invites everyone to visit during African American History month to view or conduct research on materials such as the 1894 poster featured above. For more information, please contact us.


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Color Our Collections: Vatican and Piranesi exhibits

Today’s coloring sheets comes from items on display in two of our ongoing exhibits: Vestigia Vaticana and the July spotlight exhibit on a recent acquisition, three works of Piranesi. The Vatican exhibit is open through mid-August, while the Piranesi exhibit closes at the end of this week.

Enjoy, and if you have the time please come in and see the full exhibits!

ColorOurCollections-Vaticana

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ColorOurCollections-Piranesi

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