Home Rule in America

by Andrew Carnegie
Reviewed date: 2007 Sep 11
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In 1887, Andrew Carnegie gave a speech before the Glasgow Junior Liberal Association. A major issue in British politics of the day was the question of Irish home rule. Ireland demanded a degree of self-governance; the rest of the nation was generally opposed, and the Home Rule act had been defeated in the House of Commons the previous year. Carnegie related Irish home rule to American federalism. Carnegie explained that home rule, or federalism, is not a first step toward secession, but is merely the most reasonable and most democratic form of government for any large nation.

Carnegie urges that Irish home rule be established as quickly as possible, using the US Constitution as a model. After all, it is a tried and tested method; no sense starting from scratch. The "great, beneficient principle of Home Rule" will bring peace and strength to the English-speaking world, with Britain as its leader, Carnegie promises.

Home Rule for each of the divisions, with a central authority over all to keep them in order; and in that congregation of English-speaking people, in that future Parliament - I know not how many divisions, I know not what their size or number, I know not their positions, but I know the position of one power is fixed, immovable, perpetual, and secure - that of this glorious little island. There may be many children clustering around her in that Parliament of Man; there can only be one mother. I say cursed be the arm and withered the tongue of any man, wherever found, who would strive to keep apart, by word or by deed, those children from that mother.

Although Home Rule was eventually enacted, by that time Irish politics had shifted such that they would settle for nothing less than independence. One wonders whether the independence movement would have lost support had Ireland been granted Home Rule in the late 1880s as Carnegie urged, rather than thirty years later.

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