“Lincoln, more than any other American, and more than most great men of any country,” the Irish Times remarked in 1920, “is an international character.” All sides to the “Irish Question”—from Éamon de Valera to David Lloyd George—found occasion to invoke Abraham Lincoln. Approaching Irish political history from this angle casts fresh light on the meaning of constitutional union, the nature of national sovereignty, and the possibility of secession or partition.
Kevin Kenny, Professor of History at Boston College, began the third year of the Washington History Seminar with an exploration of how and why the Irish and their adversaries chose the sixteenth American President as their champion. Kenny’s books include Peaceable Kingdom Lost: The Paxton Boys and the Destruction of William Penn’s Holy Experiment (2009), The American Irish (2000), Making Sense of the Molly Maguires (1998), and (as editor), Ireland and the British Empire: The Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series (2003). He is currently writing a book on the concept of diaspora.
A webcast of Kenny’s seminar is available at Abraham Lincoln and the Irish.
The Washington History Seminar is jointly sponsored by the National History Center and the Woodrow Wilson International Center, with assistance from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.