chapter  5
Home Rule and the Land War, 1870–1882 82
ByIsaac Butt, Home Rule
Pages 15

Isaac Butt created the Home Rule movement. He was born in 1813, the son of a Protestant rector in Donegal. At Trinity College, Dublin, Butt was a brilliant student, and he cofounded and edited Dublin University Magazine, the best of nineteenthcentury Irish conservative periodicals. After graduation in 1836, Butt stayed on at Trinity to teach political economy while he studied law at the King’s Inn. As a young barrister, his was the most intelligent voice of Irish unionism and Protestant ascendancy. In 1843 Alderman Butt debated repeal with O’Connell in the Dublin Corporation, arguing that by including Ireland in the United Kingdom, the union promoted it from province to world power. At the same time that Butt exalted the union, he complained that British laissez-faire endangered the Irish economy. From an economic protectionist he evolved into a political nationalist. This process was evident in Butt’s 1847 pamphlet Famine in the Land. In it, he attacked the Whig laissez-faire approach to hunger and death in Ireland. As a substitute, he recommended strong government action, including public works to provide employment while advancing Ireland’s economic potential, improved transportation facilities to encourage Irish industry and agriculture, and a government-sponsored and -financed emigration program to relieve population pressure.