Matthew Roberts
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Daniel O’Connell, Feargus O’Connor and the politics of ‘anger’
in Democratic Passions
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This chapter explores what purpose negative feelings served within the Chartist movement, focusing in particular on the fraught relationship between the Irish radicals, Feargus O’Connor and Daniel O’Connell. It further explores how these negatives feelings were expressed, and, in doing so, illustrates just how interconnected were English and Irish politics during this period. Further, it uses the case study of the fraught relationship between the Chartists (and O’Connor in particular) and O’Connell to explore some of the tensions between the sentimental and the ascetic within popular radicalism. Paying close attention to the concatenation of feelings that O’Connell aroused in Chartists can tell us much about the role played by feeling in popular movements around issues such as mobilisation, building identity, and resisting enemies. At the same time, the expression of these feelings was carefully controlled. By the time that O’Connell had become the most hated figure in British popular politics, the Chartists were careful to distance themselves from their portrait of O’Connell’s affective politics, which they went out of their way to ridicule as weak, irrational and out of control. The British political elite and their supporters were only too ready to tar both men and their movements with the brush of irrationality, finding little to separate them. New light is cast on the leadership styles and affective politics of O’Connor and O’Connell, which are shown to be strikingly similar, especially in terms of the Romantic and sentimental aesthetic on which both men drew.

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Democratic Passions

The politics of feeling in British popular radicalism, 1809–48


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