The Land Question

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER II (6) start of chapter

From the days of the Gracchi to the present hour, the land question—the occupancy or possession of the soil—has been a fruitful source of turmoil and embarrassment. It was so in ancient Rome; it was one of the causes of the most tremendous social convulsions of modern times; and, because of the deep interests it involved, it is destined to play a conspicuous part in popular movements in favour of fundamental changes. Leaving the shores of Ireland, where the land question is the one which most stirs the heart of its people, I cross the Atlantic, and reach a small island of which not very many in the old country have ever heard; and, to my amazement, I find this irrepressible land question the question of the colony, though for the moment absorbed in the more immediate and pressing topics of Confederation or Non-Confederation. I had supposed that a 'Tenant League' was one of those things of which I had probably heard the last, at least for some time to come; but I learn with no little surprise that the most troublesome movement, or organisation, which Prince Edward Island had witnessed within recent years was known by that title, and that its origin was owing to a systematic opposition to the payment of rent.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

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