Daniel O’Connell, Frederick Douglass, and Intersectionality 

I found Daniel O’Connell’s address to the Committee of the Irish Repeal Association of Cincinnati to be very interesting. It’s both impressive to me that O’Connell took such a strong stance against the Irish Americans who were against Abolition, and disheartening that Irish immigrants would adopt such a position in the first place. O’Connell focuses a lot on this very idea, saying “It was not in Ireland you learned this cruelty” (1). 

I also find it interesting that O’Connell saw it as a necessity and a priority to denounce the racism of Irish-Americans, and that he fought for Abolition alongside Irish liberation. I think that his politics are very representative of the intertwined ideas of the Black Atlantic and the Green Atlantic, and the similarities in the fight for rights and liberation. I find it indicative of O’Connell’s passion in the fight against oppression that he advocated not just for his own people, but for Black people in America as well. This also reminds me of the term intersectionality, which is a more modern day approach to activism that values interconnectedness and goes beyond advocacy for just one group. I also do believe that it was easier for O’Connell, as a notable white man, to have a more expansive field of advocacy than it would have been for Frederick Douglass. I imagine that Douglass would not have been taken as seriously if he began advocating for Irish rights. It also would have jeopardized his relationship with the English, and he needed to build as much support as he could for the cause of Abolition.

It is also important to acknowledge that Frederick Douglass did indeed practice intersectionality, as he campaigned for women’s suffrage and was one of the only men in attendance at the Seneca Falls Convention.

One Reply to “Daniel O’Connell, Frederick Douglass, and Intersectionality ”

  1. I agree with your emphasis on intersectionality, since that is the point of this course. Oftentimes, we think about people fighting for their own group’s rights and that was it. But I didn’t know that Douglass also fought for women’s rights. Fighting for groups outside of your own is important so we can give them a voice in spaces they may not be heard otherwise–such as O’Connell speaking to Irishmen regarding abolition. I think intersectionality is a powerful tool to get things done, like you said.

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