1895 General Election

1895 General Election

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Irish Nationalists




41e. The Election of 1896

Everything seemed to be falling into place for the Populists. James Weaver made an impressive showing in 1892, and now Populist ideas were being discussed across the nation. The Panic of 1893 was the worst financial crisis to date in American history. As the soup lines grew larger, so did voters' anger at the present system.

When Jacob S. Coxey of Ohio marched his 200 supporters into the nation's capital to demand reforms in the spring of 1894, many thought a revolution was brewing. The climate seemed to ache for change. All that the Populists needed was a winning Presidential candidate in 1896.

The Boy Orator

Ironically, the person who defended the Populist platform that year came from the Democratic Party. William Jennings Bryan was the unlikely candidate. An attorney from Lincoln, Nebraska, Bryan's speaking skills were among the best of his generation. Known as the " Great Commoner ," Bryan quickly developed a reputation as defender of the farmer.

When Populist ideas began to spread, Democratic voters of the South and West gave enthusiastic endorsement. At the Chicago Democratic convention in 1896, Bryan delivered a speech that made his career. Demanding the free coinage of silver, Bryan shouted, "You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!" Thousands of delegates roared their approval, and at the age of thirty-six, the " Boy Orator " received the Democratic nomination.

Faced with a difficult choice between surrendering their identity and hurting their own cause, the Populist Party also nominated Bryan as their candidate.

The Stay-at-Home Candidate

William McKinley stayed out of the public eye in 1896, leaving the campaigning to party hacks and fancy posters like this one.

The Republican competitor was William McKinley , the governor of Ohio. He had the support of the moneyed eastern establishment. Behind the scenes, a wealthy Cleveland industrialist named Marc Hanna was determined to see McKinley elected. He, like many of his class, believed that the free coinage of silver would bring financial ruin to America.

Using his vast wealth and power, Hanna directed a campaign based on fear of a Bryan victory. McKinley campaigned from his home, leaving the politicking for the party hacks. Bryan revolutionized campaign politics by launching a nationwide whistle-stop effort, making twenty to thirty speeches per day.

When the results were finally tallied, McKinley had beaten Bryan by an electoral vote margin of 271 to 176.

Understanding 1896

Many factors led to Bryan's defeat. He was unable to win a single state in the populous Northeast. Laborers feared the free silver idea as much as their bosses. While inflation would help the debt-ridden, mortgage-paying farmers, it could hurt the wage-earning, rent-paying factory workers. In a sense, the election came down to city versus country. By 1896, the urban forces won. Bryan's campaign marked the last time a major party attempted to win the White House by exclusively courting the rural vote.

The economy of 1896 was also on the upswing. Had the election occurred in the heart of the Panic of 1893, the results may have differed. Farm prices were rising in 1896, albeit slowly. The Populist Party fell apart with Bryan's loss. Although they continued to nominate candidates, most of their membership had reverted to the major parties.

The ideas, however, did endure. Although the free silver issue died, the graduated income tax, direct election of senators, initiative, referendum, recall, and the secret ballot were all later enacted. These issues were kept alive by the next standard bearers of reform &mdash the Progressives .

The Liberal Unionist Party: A History

The split in the Liberal party in 1886 arising from Gladstone’s conversion to the cause of Irish home rule was a turning point in British politics. The Liberals who, in one form or another, had been the dominant party of government over the previous half century spent all but three of the next 20 years in opposition, as the alliance of the breakaway Liberal Unionist party and the Conservatives won landslide victories in three out of four general elections. Given their significant impact on the course of British political history, it is remarkable that, until Dr Cawood’s volume appeared, there was no full-length published study of the Liberal Unionists.

There may be a number of explanations for this. Gordon L. Goodman’s 1956 University of Chicago PhD thesis on the Liberal Unionist party may have created a sense that the topic had already been done. Yet Dr Goodman’s work remained unpublished in book form, and is therefore accessible only to more determined scholars of the field. Historians’ fascination with the important and enigmatic figure of Joseph Chamberlain, radical Liberal turned imperialist and Tory ally, may have crowded out study of the party that he helped to found. The fact that the Liberal Unionists were from their inception in alliance with a Conservative party that eventually subsumed them has perhaps relegated the party’s history to a mere subplot in Conservative politics. Certainly for a long time there was a tendency to see the Liberal Unionist schism as, in Goodman’s phrase, the ‘Revolt of the Whigs’ (1), wealthy, aristocratic Liberals, feeling uncomfortable with their party’s increasing radicalism and realising that their true interests lay with the Conservatives. Robert Ensor in his classic volume of the Oxford History of England saw the Liberal Unionist schism as introducing a class division to party politics that had previously not existed.(2) This is certainly a view that William Gladstone encouraged, most famously in his ‘masses against the classes’ speech, seeking thereby to impugn the motives of his heretical former colleagues.

More recent historians, from the 1970s onwards, have questioned this view, seeing the Liberal Unionists as motivated more by ideology than class. Christopher Harvie has highlighted the overwhelming opposition to Irish home rule among Liberal academics in 1886. W.C. Lubenow has shown the lack of correlation between Liberal MPs’ class background and their position on Gladstone’s home rule bill. Jonathan Parry and T. A. Jenkins have each argued that Gladstone’s style of leadership, his excessive religiosity and apparent willingness to pander to the will of the mob clashed with the more secular and rationalist outlook of many Liberals. His support for home rule was seen by those who refused to follow his lead as a negation of the attempts by Liberal governments over the previous 50 years to reconcile Catholic Ireland to the Union.(3) These studies have, however, focused on the attitudes of parliamentarians and academics rather than on party organisation, propaganda and elections, and they have not taken the story beyond the 1886 split. Dr Cawood’s volume therefore goes some way to filling a significant gap in published research, and makes a powerful case for the Liberal Unionists as a distinct and vital political force, at least until 1895 when they entered coalition with the Conservatives.

There was an initial reluctance among many Liberal opponents of home rule to break with Gladstone’s Liberal party. Dr Cawood demonstrates the diffidence of Hartington’s leadership in 1886, and the slow development of party organisation at least during the first half of the 1886–92 parliament, with the newly-formed party beset by problems such as the defection of its first organiser, F. W. Maude, back to the Gladstonian Liberal party and the lack of impact of its worthy but almost unreadable newspaper, the Liberal Unionist. The situation was not helped by Joseph Chamberlain maintaining his own organisation, the National Radical Union (later the National Liberal Union), separate from the Hartingtonite Liberal Unionist Association. In addition, many moderate Liberal Unionist MPs took a dim view of the growth of party caucuses, placed great importance on maintaining their own political judgement and were reluctant to soil their hands with the messy business of party organisation.

This began to change after 1889, following a restructuring of the party’s central organisation, and although it was too late to avoid a disappointing result at the 1892 general election, by 1895 the party machine was sufficiently effective for it to make an important contribution to the Unionists’ landslide election victory. This was particularly so in areas where a significant number of Liberal MPs had defected to the Liberal Unionists in 1886. Joseph Chamberlain’s Birmingham bastion is the most famous example of local Liberal Unionist success, but the West of Scotland and Cornwall too were areas where the party became the senior rather than junior partner in the Unionist alliance. Dr Cawood also highlights the often difficult relations between the two Unionist parties at constituency level, with squabbles in various constituencies over which party contested the parliamentary seat. In some cases it required the intervention of national leaders to resolve disputes. The Unionist alliance was not all plain sailing.

Ideologically, the Liberal Unionists seemed an unlikely combination, comprising those elements of the Liberal party that had most often clashed with one another during the 1880–5 government. To some extent these divisions continued within the new party, over temperance, disestablishment and enthusiasm for social reform. Yet Dr Cawood convincingly argues that there were at least two important unifying principles of Liberal Unionism, inherited from mid-Victorian Liberalism. These were, first, a commitment to the rule of law the party’s leading thinker, the jurist A. V. Dicey, identified Irish nationalists’ encouragement of lawbreaking for political ends as a key objection to home rule. Liberal Unionists believed in Britain’s liberal constitution and that political progress, in Ireland and elsewhere, had to come about by constitutional methods. Secondly, Liberal Unionists believed that theirs was a rational form of politics, based on a commitment to, as Dr Cawood puts it, ‘political evolution from fear, inequality and reaction towards trust, liberty and progress’. Many of them set great store by the notion of character, believing their approach to politics to be ‘manlier’ than Gladstone’s ‘feminine’ appeal to popular emotions.

For much of the first decade of the party’s existence, party leaders and activists were keen to emphasise their continuing Liberal identity, seeing themselves as the true bearers of the Liberal torch, and believing, as breakaway parties often do, that their old party had left them rather than vice versa. Ironically, given Joseph Chamberlain’s later adoption of tariff reform, they were united in opposing attempts by some Conservatives in the early 1890s to revive support for protectionism. Unlike the Conservatives, they showed a reluctance (which they sometimes overcame) to play the sectarian, anti-Catholic card in debates over home rule. And of course Joseph Chamberlain continued to champion social reform, although he modified his rhetoric from the language of class conflict and ‘ransom’ to reconciliation between social classes.

Dr Cawood therefore makes a persuasive case for the Liberal Unionists as a genuinely independent political force within the Unionist alliance, by no means a mere cipher for the Conservative party. Yet in my view he pushes his conclusions further than is justified by the evidence presented here, in a way that diminishes his overall argument. For example, writing about areas of Liberal Unionist parliamentary strength, he comments:

The victory of Liberal Unionists in Bury, as in Birmingham, Cornwall and Scotland, owed everything to their commitment to unbending Liberal principles and absolutely nothing to the alliance with the Conservatives.

This stretches credibility beyond breaking point. To be true, it would mean that the Liberal Unionists in these places derived no advantage at all from the Conservatives not standing candidates against them and allowing their new allies a free run against Gladstonian Liberals. Surely Liberal Unionists benefited at least to some degree (more probably quite a lot) from the support of Conservatives! To take the example of Bury this seat was won narrowly in 1885 by the Liberal Sir Henry James with the Conservatives just 189 votes or 2.4 per cent behind. Returned unopposed in 1886, James won a comfortable victory in 1892. But the swing to the Unionists, while impressive, was not dramatically different from that obtained by Conservative candidates elsewhere in Lancashire. And when he stood down at the 1895 general election, he was replaced by a Conservative candidate who won by a similarly clear margin. This was far from being a seat where the Conservatives ceased to matter. The position is similar regarding the other areas cited in the above quotation. No doubt the Liberal Unionists appealed to voters who were beyond the Conservatives’ reach, but the support of Conservative voters undoubtedly made a difference too to their success. We cannot know how many seats the Liberal Unionists might have won in a genuine three-way party system, but without the guaranteed support of Conservative voters victories would have been much harder to achieve.

Likewise, I am sceptical of Dr Cawood’s argument regarding the Unionists’ landslide victory in the 1895 general election that ‘it was the Liberal Unionist agenda that convinced the mass electorate’, in particular Chamberlain’s social programme. This was not how Liberal candidates at the time saw it – they put the blame primarily on Sir William Harcourt’s misguided attempts at prohibitionist temperance reform (or ‘local veto’), resistance to which was more a Tory than a Liberal cause, and to the electorate’s continuing scepticism about home rule.(4) Doubtless the obvious divisions among Liberal leaders did not help much either. Dr Cawood cites the example of the famous explorer and journalist H. M. Stanley, who won the seat of North Lambeth as a Liberal Unionist, as evidence of a candidate winning by stressing social reform in his campaign. But Stanley’s result was very much in line with the swing achieved by Conservative candidates elsewhere in London. It may be that Conservatives stressed social issues too, but more evidence is needed before we can conclude that such questions were decisive in determining the result of the election.

The author has, I think, succumbed to the constant temptation for researchers of overstating the importance and distinctiveness of their subject. He cites the famous remark of Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest that ‘[Liberal Unionists] count as Tories. They dine with us. Or come in the evening at any rate’. But he sees this comment as indicating that Liberal Unionists ‘remained Liberals, so would not be invited to dinner’. Surely, however, the key words here are ‘count as Tories’. If one wishes to draw a political inference from this line of dialogue, it is perhaps that, just as the Liberal Unionists allowed Tory hostesses to widen their social circle, they may also have helped the Conservative party to increase its pool of potential voters. In that sense the importance of the Liberal Unionists was that, in partnership with the Conservatives, they gave resistance to Irish home rule an image of being a national cause, above class and sectional interests, for which it was worth sacrificing traditional political loyalties. There is much in Dr Cawood’s book to indicate that he would agree with this, and I merely suggest that he would have been better to have left it at that rather than over-egg the pudding.

Similarly, although it is a less important matter, the book’s title overstates its actual content. The innocent reader may assume that this is a complete history of the party from 1895 through to the merger with the Conservatives in 1912. Yet the last 17 years of the party’s history are dealt with in one fairly short chapter that reads more as an extended postscript than part of the main body of the book. This is partly justified by the increasing convergence of the two parties after the Liberal Unionists entered a coalition government with the Conservatives in 1895. There is much more to be said about the remainder of the party’s history than is included here. The title may of course be the choice of the publisher rather than the author – I note that the University of Leicester Phd thesis on which the book is presumably based was entitled ‘The Lost Party: Liberal Unionism 1886–95’. That would have been a more accurate title for this book as well.

There are a few howlers that should have been corrected. It may just be an unfortunate slip that the first sentence of chapter one refers to the work of Gerald when it should be Gordon Goodman, but other errors look like carelessness. For example, the Liberal Party’s Newcastle Programme was agreed in 1891, so Liberal Unionist denunciations of socialism in January 1890 were by definition not a response to it (p. 67). The Irish historian and Liberal Unionist MP W. E. H. Lecky was a Protestant so his adherence to the party was not a sign of its drawing support from Roman Catholic intellectuals (p. 44). And Gladstone did not retire from the premiership until 1894, so the 1893 Employers’ Liability Bill was not a sign of Rosebery indicating a new direction for the Liberal party (p. 98). (In any case the bill was more associated with Asquith, the home secretary).

Despite these quibbles, and my disagreement with elements of the author’s conclusions, it would be churlish to end this review on a negative note. This is an important book that makes a significant contribution to our understanding of late 19th–century British party politics. It is written in a clear and accessible style that makes it an enjoyable read. It engages successfully with existing historiography while expanding our understanding of a neglected historical subject. The author and publishers are particularly to be commended for the illustrations, including the examples of Liberal Unionist leaflets and posters which give a strong sense of how the party actually engaged with the electorate. As well as being a valuable work in its own right, Dr Cawood’s book will, one hopes, rekindle interest among historical researchers in the study of the Liberal Unionist party.


Since the 1960s, the politics of the period 1860 to 1906 have received much attention, particularly by historians of the Conservative party. On the whole, it has been argued that Conservative electoral success during this period was a ‘negative’ achievement. Through an examination of the election of 1895 this article questions this argument. It suggests that both the nature of the Unionists' appeal and the factors behind their performance in general elections in this period have to an extent been oversimplified since the pioneering quantitative work of James Cornford. A content analysis of Liberal and Unionist candidates' election addresses is presented in order to make sense of the issues of the campaign, full details of which can be found in the appendix to this article. The Liberal message is shown to be more coherent, and that of the Unionists more positive, than is usually assumed. Cornford's methodology is also challenged, and an alternative (and simpler) approach is suggested. It is argued that in 1895 there was in general no inverse correlation between Conservative vote and turnout, or between Conservative vote and changes to the electoral registers. And although party organization was very important to the Unionists' success there seems little evidence of any over-arching plan to keep both turnout and the number of registered electors down.


Luis Robalino Dávila, Orígenes del Ecuador de hoy, vol. 7 (1969).

Linda Alexander Rodríguez, The Search for Public Policy: Government Finances in Ecuador, 1830–1940 (1985), esp. pp. 44-52, 88-92.

Frank MacDonald Spindler, Nineteenth-Century Ecuador (1987), esp. pp. 147-169.

Additional Bibliography

Ayala Mora, Enrique. Historia de la revolución liberal ecuatoriana. Quito: Corporación Editora Nacional, 2002.

Cárdenas Reyes, María Cristina. José Peralta y la trayectoría del liberalismo ecuatoriano. Quito: Ediciones Banco Central del Ecuador, 2002.

Iglesias Mata, Dumar. Eloy Alfaro, Cóndor de América. Manabí, Ecuador: Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, 2003.

Núñez, Jorge. La revolución alfarista de 1895. Quito: Centro para el Desarrollo Social, 1995.

Linda Alexander RodrÍguez

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Death of Justin McCarthy, Novelist & Politician

Justin McCarthy, Irish nationalist and Liberal historian, novelist and politician, dies on April 24, 1912. He is a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1879 to 1900, taking his seat in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

McCarthy is born in Cork, County Cork on November 22, 1830, and is educated there. He begins his career as a journalist at the age of 18 in Cork. From 1853 to 1859 he is in Liverpool, on the staff of the Northern Daily Times. In March 1855, he marries Charlotte Ailman. In 1860 he moves to London, as parliamentary reporter to the Morning Star, of which he becomes editor in 1864. He gives up his post in 1868 and, after a lecturing tour in the United States, joins the staff of The Daily News as leader-writer in 1870. In this capacity he becomes one of the most useful and respected upholders of the liberal politics of the time. He lectures again in America in 1870–71 and in 1886–87.

McCarthy is first elected to Parliament at a by-election on April 4, 1879, when he is returned unopposed as a Home Rule League MP for County Longford. He is re-elected unopposed as a Parnellite Home Ruler in 1880, and when the two-seat Longford constituency is split into two divisions under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885, he is elected as an Irish Parliamentary Party member for the new single-seat Northern division of Longford. His sole opponent, a Conservative, wins only 6% of the votes.

At the 1886 general election, he is returned unopposed in North Longford, but also stands in Londonderry City, where he is declared the loser to the Irish Unionist Alliance candidate by the narrow margin of 1778 votes to 1781. However, the result is later overturned on petition and McCarthy opts to sit for Derry City. During the divorce controversy surrounding Charles Stewart Parnell in November 1890, the British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone expresses a warning, given to McCarthy as intermediary, that if Parnell retains leadership of the Irish Parliamentary Party it will mean the loss of the next election, the end of their alliance and Home Rule. When the annual party leadership election meeting is called later that month, the threat is somehow not conveyed to the members, who re-elect Parnell leader of the Party.

After a further historical meeting of the Irish Party MPs in early December, Parnell refuses to retire and the Party divides. McCarthy becomes chairman of the Anti-Parnellite group, the Irish National Federation, for a year in 1891–1892. His nationalism is of a temperate and orderly kind, and though his personal distinction singles him out for the chairmanship during the party dissensions of this period, he is in no active sense the political leader.

At the 1892 general election, McCarthy again stands both in North Longford and in Derry City. In each seat there is a two-way contest between the Anti-Parnellite McCarthy and a Unionist candidate, but the narrow Unionist victory in Derry is not overturned, and McCarthy sits for North Longford, where he wins over 93% of the votes. He is returned unopposed for North Longford in 1895 general election, and stands down from Parliament at the 1900 general election.

It is claimed that McCarthy’s true vocation is literature. His earliest publications are novels, some of which, such as A Fair Saxon (1873), Dear Lady Disdain (1875), Miss Misanthrope (1878), and Donna Quixote (1879), attain considerable popularity. His most important work is his History of Our Own Times, which treats of the period between Queen Victoria‘s accession and her Diamond Jubilee. He begins a History of the Four Georges (1884–1901) and the latter half is written by his son, Justin Huntly McCarthy.

Justin McCarthy dies at the age of 81 in Folkestone, Kent, England on April 24, 1912.


GENERAL ELECTION, 3895. or &mdash&mdash&mdash ro TEE ELECTORS OF SWANSEA (TOWN DIVISION). GE^Tr.RMBN &mdash I address you as a candidate seeking to represent the Town of Swansea in Parlia- taent. and in asking you for the honour of your votex for such an important position, i. wish to stale my views upon a few of the questions that now engage attention, leaving ethers to be deait with at my meet- ing'?, to which I invite every voter. I am a behevr in a greater, ratber than in a I smaller Britain. A nation cannot stand still it must either go forward or t'ail back in the race, and I consider that tb«» material prosperity of this country will be advanced by pushing forward and maintaining those I' jiobie traditions, which have constituted this &diamsjouoirv the greatest civilising influence that the worid has ever known, 1 attach, there- fore, great importance to a steady I <uid consistent foreign policy, and i. a judicioa3 development &bull £ our possessions and trade abroad. This end cannot be attained if we have not a strong Government at home, and I confidently way that a lnloniöt Government is stronger in it3 purposes and in its actions tnan such a Government as that which has been in office for the last three years. As oae whose interests are closely bound: cp with this imDSrtant district and as a mem- ber of bodies directly engaged in trade I cannot bo indifferent to the development of Swansea, and I venture to suggest that the record of a lite-time affords convincing evi- dence that the amelioration of the condition &bullf ( he working classes has evei' had my iwost heartfelt sympathy. A measure for the amendment of the law relating to the liability of employers for I accident to their workmen shall have my support J. am in favour of extended Technical Education in the town, and, u elected, will j do my best to get a government grant for the purpose. I shall vote for a Bill extending the power &bullf landlords tl.) grant perpetual leases, instead ef for 99 years, as at present is the case ) under the Settled Land Acts, with the option, if lessees so desire it, or buying their own j frseuolda, in other words, I support Lease- hold Enfranchisement. l -hall also vo'e for a Bill giving the State power to assist the working classes in the purchase of their own dwellings. I hardly point out what a grsf.» boon it would be to workmen to obtain loan3 fro n tha State at a Much lower ute ef interest than they are now com- pelled to pay. I While in favour of well matured and care- ful refone of the Church. I am opposed to I. any measure calculated to seriously impair the usefulness of this vast religious organisa- tion, and I strongly deprecate the diversion to secular uses of funds now being applied to religious purposes whether these funds are being administered by Churchmen or by Koncoaforxtista. I am prepared to support as wide and generous a measure of self-government lor Ireland a' we ourselves may enjoy anu would eniv stipulate that it I does not tend to destroy the integrity of this great Empire. Mv life has been spent in your midst, and I feave laboured to the best of my ability to have sohved as to be of use to my neighbours. Nothing that I cm now say will add to yeur knowleiiie ef me, and my only hope is that my p? tgtwerk has been such as to merit your I &bullonfidecuu and your esteem. t am, your Obedient Servant. H T. PILL.W'v-LLEVYELYN. I OJ" 1895.


AN SEA DISTRICT PARLIAMEN- TARY DIVISION, LICTORS,&mdash Having been asked to stand for this isien, which is essentially an Industrial Working-men's Constituency, and which been always represented by a practical business man, and being assured of the roval and Buppert of the majority of the ifears, I venture to offer my services. have bad a large experience, not only in nary business affairs in connection with colliery undertakings, but also as a »r of varieus local public authorities. particular as a member of the &bullganshire County Council since its ablishment. j therefore, well acquainted with the not only of this Division, but, likewise, 3 whol0 County&mdashagricultural as well istriai. s^-il especially interest myself in the rove me nt of Trade and Industry, by the er resrulation of Treaties with other ntries, and by the fuller development of o'«n Home Resources and those of our <uies, would do all in my power to find solutions ,e "unemployed" problem, and would vete the Employers' Liability Bill, the Eight rs Bit!. Conciliation Boards Kill, which I lid save the Country from the evils of en, ions and the working-men, their wives childrer.frotu thenardshipsand sufferings :u accompany them. 1 advocate a system ) me Rule all round which would in i e powers to deal locally with the liquor Ie, and enable us in Wales to preserve water supplies primarily for the use of Principality. To make the best use of resources by the promotion of light a.nd r railways. To create small farm in.s with security of tenure to taroucr and thereby stop the .w of agricultural labourers to the already crowded colliery and tin-plate districts, tiinulate Welsh gold minium which, in the otlv expressed opinion of the late Chan- r nf the Exchequer, has already become onsiderabSe importance. The Afforesta- of cur Waste Lands, of which there are 5andd of acres. would actively support legislation in u &bull of Religious Equality and the Appli- JQ of Tithes to National Purposes, the lition of the House of Lords, one Man Vote, ond Reform of the Poor-law, so as to e honourable provision fer our aged and .Iess poor. i am, Gentlemen, Your obedient servant, R HALL MEDLEY. .Jy 6th, 1835.


ULIAMENTARY ELECTION, 1365. vVANSEA DISTRICT PARLIAMEN- TARY DIVISION, the undersigned, being appointed Elec- yjen. by Mr. Ernest Hall Hedley, of ?chim, Pontardawe, a Candidate at the e Election, Hereby Give Notice that in of the provisions of tho Act 46 and 47, 51, the said Candidate will not Lc erable er account !.i»e for any payment service rendered, geods supplied, or nscs ioc.trred by any person asting or ain.i to act on his behalf unless such !ered, goods supplied, or expenses v perse-7i acting or claiming to ollf have been previously ting under my hands or ia appointed sub-agent acting of hi* authority. ..tlWIii COiiDFN THOMAS. las-chambers, Ne 3329


GENERAL ELECTION. 1895. TO THE ELECTORS OF THE UNITED BOROUGHS OF CARMARTHEN AND LLANELLY. GEXTLIMEST,&mdash In response to an urgent request from Car- marthen and I.laneliv, I have decided toa»ain contest this Constituency, and now beg to Oiler myself for election as your member. My opinions with respect to Disestablish- ment and Disendowment, and all other political questions now in issue are the same as when I had the honour or' representing I, you before in Parliament. I The only difference ot epiniou which arose between some of my supporters and myself in 1886 was with regard to the Government of Ireland, I am still in favour of the fullest extension of local government to England, I Ireland, Scotland and Waies, but I object to the setting up of rival parliaments to that at Westminster. Specially interested as I am in the staple industry of the constituency&mdashthe manufac- ture of tli1-pla.tes--I am anxious to see the trade consolidated, not by interference with the wage-standard of 1874, but by regulating the supply according to the law of demand. The crying evil in the trade at present seems te me to be over-production. If employer and employed would only combine, through a Board of Control, or some equivalent method, jjreat good. I feel assured, would result. In the interests of trade, it is of the utmost importance that wo should have a Govern- ment, such as the present, whose ioreign and colonial policy will be to maintain the present markets for British goods, and to open fresh markets, so as to provide regular employment for our manufacturing population. It is scarcely necessary for nm to say that my sympathy is with the reasonable demands ef Labour. My actions in the past have proved that I am in favoar of a fair day's wage for a fair day's work. I refer with satisfaction to the Act for the Preferential Payment of Wages, which I was instrumental in passing through Parliament. I shall cive hearty support to any wisely- considered scheme of Old Age Pensions. but so as not to interfere with the splendid work now being carried on by the Friendly Societies throughout the country. I am in favour of the Taxation of Royalties and Ground Rents. I am also 1n favour of Leasehold Enfranchise- ment When last in Parliament, I introduced a Bill with that object. If I am elected, mv best services will be at your disposal, and I trust that my know- ledge of the district, and my experience of the Tinpiate Trade and of Harbour matters generally, will enable me to fully represent your interests. I am, Gentlemen, Your obedient Servant, JOHN JONES JENKINS. Llaneliy, 10th July, 1895.


GENERAL ELECTION. 1895. TO THE ELECTORS OF THE MID- DIVISION OF THE COUNTY OF GLAMORGAN. GSNTLBMEN,&mdash Having been uaaniaaoudv invited by the Unionist Party in this Division to stand the Unionist Party in this Division to stand I as a Candidate at the approaching Pariir. I mentary Election, and being a resident in tie district and deeply interested in its welfare I place myself at your disposal. ¡ I am opposed to the Disestablishment and I Disendowment of the Church, I will vote for the equitable distribution of public money to all PubUf School?, vnether denominational or unde- nor^mational. I upheld the House of Lords as being the only means of checking hasty and ill-con- sidered legislation, and ef securing an appeal I to the judgment of the people. I believe in a firm Foreign Policy, which alone secures the safety of our commerce abroad, and enables us to take advantage of fresh outlets for our manufactures. I am in favour of strengthening our rela- tions with the Colonies, believing the Imperial Unity is our true source of strength. The Armv and Navy must be maintained in a high state of efficiency as an assurance for the security of our supplies of food and raw materials, I am strongly opposed to any scheme ef Home Hule which would terd to separate Ireland from England, or be likely to place tbe House ei Commons under the domination of any Irish faction. I am deeply sensible of the depression in trade and agriculture which has been so acute during the last few years, and am c-on- -> 1 vinced that it calls for immediate attention. I consider that good can be done by the restriction of the influx of destitute aliens so as to find increased employment fer our own pcor. I beiieve in temperance, but should offer opposition to any attempt to interfere with the liberties of the people&mdashor to deprive an honest innkeeper of his trade without com- pensation. I I would support an Employers' Liability Bill, granting compensation to Working Men ) for accidents in the ceurss of their employ- ment, but I would give them at the same time the libert y of choice to make better terms with j their Employers if they wish by private arrangement, thus avoiding the expense and delay attendant upon legal proceedings. I I am in favour of a reform by which the period of quahficatien would be reduced, and the voting power more equitably distributed I than it is at present. I consider the time is ripe for the intredac- tion of some Reform in the Poor Laws, dis- unguiahFng between tho honest and indus- trious, so that those who through old age or accident are unable any longer to make a living, should be provided with Pensions. 1 hope to see a continuation of the policy of I the last Conservative Government by still further reducing, if not altogether abolishing the Duties on the necessaries of the Working Classes. Should you elect me as your representative I will serve you to the best of my abilities, I have the honour to be, Gentlemen, Your obedient Servant, JOHN EDWARDS-VAUGUAN. JOHN EDWARDS-VAUGUAN. I Rheola, Neath, 8th July, 1895.


gENERAL ELECTION, 1395, X TO THE ELECTORS OF THE GOWER DIVISION. GENTLEMEN,&mdash 1 again, by invitation of an over- whelming majority, consent to place myself in nomination as a Candidate for your suffrages at the ensuing Parliamentary Election. My public career in and out of Parliament j on behalf of the cause of Labour, and of National and Liberal Politics is well-known to you and as I shall have frequent oppor- tunity of stating to you in detail my views en the social, industrial, and political issues of the (.ay, I feel sure that you will deem it needless on niv part to extend this customary and formal address. I wish to expressly add that as the repre- sentative of a pre-eminently working-class constituency such F.S yours, 1 shall always- if honoured by election for the third time&mdash regard the claims of Labour as paramount to I all Party or personal considerations I am, Your obedient Servant, DAVID RANDELL. Central Committee Rooms, I 19, Alexandra-road, Swansea, July 10th, 1895,


THE POST BAG. A speaker, at a meeting on Thursday night, made a good speech by readiag quotatio D6 from the Daily Post, A speaker, at a Liberal meeting last night, compares St. Mary's Church to a barn-which is a place where they stere grain. The competition for the Llandilo-Talyboat collectorship was so close that the chairman of tbe Guardians had to give It. casting vote for the fortunate one appointed, Mr. Warmington, Q.C., described Afr. David Randell last night as my conscience keeper on industrial questions." An arduous task, we should say, to keep a lawyer s con- science, A reverend gentlenan en the Board of Guardians suggest that Patsy Perkins should be engaged tj knock some of the gas out of the Rev. John Davies. During the discussion at the Guardians on the proposal that canvassing should be a dis. qualilication. Miss Brock said one candidate for an appointment waited on her, but all he could say was that he had called to make her acquaintance." A little dog whose brief and troublous history appeared in this column a few weeks ago has at last found its home in a bake- house. It is not certaiu whether the animal will again emerge into the outer world tied to a chain or tied up in portable packets of tasty morsels. A guardian said their forefathers used to be content with a simple wooden leg when necessary, but now people had advanced with the times and wanted an "artificial limb" when necessary to assit locomotion. So much fer the spread of education. The Rev. John Davies has perpetrated another bull. At the guardians' meeting yesterday he said, speaking of his fellow members, "To enjoy themselves at the Mumbles they go, but to come here and do the work they stay at home." (With compliments to the Nonconformist ministers of Swansea.) Bydd Xoncon. Jacks y Sabbath nesai Dros eu ven mewn politiciaeth, Penan c,ynta.f, ai1, ac ulaf Fyddpechodau Egiwysyddiaeth t'e fvdd Cew-ri pwipud Cymru JVlcvvn hwyl sanctaidd yn eanvassio Hardd olvgta-Jacks mewn gweddi Ar Miss Ladas a Sir Yisto. A writer in this month's Wales complains of the gross ignorance of Welsh place-names shown by Post Office officials in Wales. "La Belgium," he says, "it does not matter whether you write Antwerpen or Anvers, in Switzerland it does not matter whether you write Geneve or Genf or Ginevra, but in Wales, if you write Abertawe for Swansea you will probably get your letter back undelivered." The other night someone tried to "do" a well-known member of the Salisbury Club, who had undertaken the distribution of election leaflets. The Salisbury man offered a smart Radical a leaflet. The latter accepted it and tore it up immediately. Oh! said the isiperturbable distributor, "I shall just tell the school board man about you! What for ? was the astonished question of the other. Because you evidently cannot read! At the beginning of this century, Swansea* Cardiff. Neath, Llantrisant, Kenfig, Loughorj and Cowbridge were represent. ment by one member. The eandi. > U* general election in 1818 were Mr. D -n Lord P. J, H. C. Stuart, of Cardiff C latter while driving in the streets of Cardifi had his head cut bv a stone thrown at him. They ware not very complimentary in those days as the Dillwynites were known by the I term of Woodlice and were so called after one of the local leaders of the party. An election story which is always told at these times runs thus :&mdashAn elector who was I very fond of sheeps' heads sent his servant to a butcher to purchase one. Here is a very nice one," said the butcher, u A regular I Tory." M Ob, that will never do. You know my master is a Liberal." Of course he is," replied the knight of the cleaver, but I will soon settle that." And the butcher took the chopper, split the head open, and took out the brains. "Now," he said, "r think that will suit him." This yarn can be reversed to suit the occasion and the reader. On a recent Sunday a well-known farmer on the hill-top, Mount Pleasaat, Swansea I' was on his land when he saw four persons approaching. II Hi hi," he shouted, "you re trespassing here get off my land." "Ob, we were quite unaware ef that," replied one of the four gentleman. "Here, my good I man, 'it's all right here is a shilling for you." What," cried the enraged farmer, "you Rive me a shilling. "I'll give you the lend of £500 if you want it." And with that he bundled the four off his farm. Rumour I has it that two of the gentlemen in question were the assize judges. While Blondin was playing the mandolin in mid-air yesterday at the Hospital fete, some- one remarked that were he to serenade his beloved he would not need to do so froln the ground floor, but could Sing her songs of Araby" while balancing himself upon her mothers clothes line. The advantages of this method are obvicrU, but not always reliable. If adopted it n,)" bt lead to seme- thing like the following &mdash Scene I.&mdash"Our back yard last night" in Plasmarl, Cats on the roof engaged in friendlv overtures. Clothes line sus- pended on level with bedraom window. Moonlight over all. Enter Obadiah Jonca nimbly with concertina slung orerhis sbolder climbs post and crosses quietlv on clothes line to beneatn window. Sines "Dedouin Love Song," aad accom- panies himself on concertina, Exeunt cats in haste. O. J. (singing)&mdashPeeps into window, From the desert I tome t.() thee Door opens quietly below and bull-dog rushos out furiously.) O. J.&mdash(still singir.sr.) Under thy window ) stand And t.llto midnight ht'¡ulll'1Y- I)og.&mdashBow, bow, (tries to reach O.J. but fails.) O. J. takes high note. Exit deg in terror. Enter old man with stick. I love thee &mdash O.M.&mdashCome down from by there, will you or it's- &mdash O. J.&mdash" I love but thee wi'.h &mdash&mdash&mdash O. M.&mdashA couple of flips in the eyes you'll have. (Makes frantic efforts to reach O. J. with stick.) 0, thy window 100k and see O. M. (furiously).&mdashThis stick will be at your head in a minute. (Jumps at O. J.) O. J. .My passion aud O.M.&mdash My jingo (excitedlv) Til give you rhubarb. (Looks for a lcn«3i- stick.) U. J. unconcerned and swings ^irntily on ciothes- tue. O. 11, again fails to reach him. Clock, chimes two. Bedroom window opens and white form emerges. O. J. clasps it rap- turously. They struggle. White form.&mdashOo Oo You lien black- guard Can't you leave my daughter atone Policeman O. J. losos his balance and falls. O. Irf, rushes on him. Enter bulldog. Cats reappear above. Excursions, alarms. Curtain. SciiXE II.&mdashThe same. House in darkness. Bedroom window closed and blind drawn (Quietness restored. Clock chimes 2.30' tuter P.C. l Curtains 4.


OWANSEA DISTRICT PARLIAMEN-! 0 TAR Y" DIVISION. TO THE ELECTORS OF THE ABOVE ■DISTRICT. GSKTLSUEX.&mdash I tiy the Dissolution of Parliament to- day, I cease being the representative of this important constituency in the House of Commons, to which position I wa.s elected by your support and confidence, upon the eiova- to the peerage of the iate lamented Lord Swansea and th^ prospective farewell I addressed to you last ouiy explaining my reasons for retiring, now assume a practical term During the two years 1 have bad the honour of sitting in the House of Commons as your representative, I honestly and conscientiously have endeavoured to fulfil each and every pledge I *»ade you prior to my election, and I' 1 trust that my conduct in thus supporting all Liberal and industrial Measures brought before Parliament has met with your I approval. In now bidding you farewell, permit ma to i tender yon my grateful tbanka lor the mILD)

[No title]

acts of kindness you have shown towards me, and I beg to assure you that the severance of our tics as ConstItuents and Parliamentary Representative shall in no way affect the deep interest I have always taken in the welfare and prosperity of the Swansea District, and the rendering of such assistance as lies in my power iu the furtherance of the work of social and political progress. I have the honour to be, Gentlemen, Your ebedient Servant. WM. WILLIAMS. Maesvgwernen Hall, Morristoa, July 8th, 1895, [3318 I

The 1885 and 1886 general elections in Ireland

The general elections of 1885–6 can be regarded fairly as a milestone in modern Irish political history. In part their importance lies in the fact that they were fought under a new, much-widened franchise and that they witnessed the appearance of modern types of party organisation. In greater part, however, their significance arises because the forces of nationalism and unionism dominated the political scene for the first time in an unequivocal manner: at the same time strong links were established between political and religious divisions.
Conflict over nationalism was not new to elections in Ireland, but in the past there had been a wide range of political opinion and swings in popular support often occurred. In the 1850s and 1860s the political scene had been dominated by the Liberal and Conservative parties that accepted the United Kingdom framework. A majority of Irish MPs elected in 1874 supported home rule, but most Home Rulers elected in 1880 were more concerned with the land question than with home rule. Religious cleavages, of course, had impacted on earlier elections, but in the past the influence of religious division on politics was rarely clear-cut, with Conservatives, Liberals and Home Rulers all enjoying some cross-denominational support on particular occasions.

Prior to 1885, elections in Ireland had been restricted to those occupiers of property valued at £12 and over in the counties or at £4 and over in the parliamentary boroughs. The Franchise Act of 1884, however, extended the vote to all adult male householders who had paid their rates and were registered. Women continued to be disfranchised but at least most households in the country now had the vote. This resulted in a massive, over threefold, increase in the number of Irish electors, from 225,999 in 1884 to 737,965 in 1885. Rules were also introduced to limit the amount of money that a candidate or party could spend in the election campaign, which meant that in future constituency organisations would have to be run largely on a voluntary basis.
Such changes presented all the parties with the problem of dealing with an electorate that had not only grown in size but had widened its social character from a mainly well-off farmer base to include small farmers and labourers. In addition, throughout the country there was a heightened sense of political consciousness, aroused originally over the land question. Agrarian protest had undermined the landlords, who had traditionally played a key role in Irish politics. After the 1881 Tyrone by-election one observer commented: ‘The fact is the Protestants as well as the Roman Catholics do not want an Orangeman or even a Fenian if he is a gentleman or a landlord’. By 1885, thanks to several land acts, landlord–tenant relations were no longer a pressing issue, which meant that other divisions, such as between farmers and labourers, and between Protestant and Catholic, assumed new importance for the parties, as did interest groups and internal conflicts. The parties responded in different ways to these new challenges.

The Home Rule Party

The Reform Club, Royal Avenue, Belfast, headquarters of the Ulster Liberals. (Industries of the North, 1891)

After the 1880 general election Charles Stewart Parnell had taken over the leadership of the Home Rule Party, but it remained a loosely organised body with ad hoc organisational structures in the constituencies and little discipline among members in parliament. In early 1885 it was reckoned that Parnell could count on the whole-hearted support of only some 20–30 MPs of his Home Rule group, and he had to deal with both radical nationalist elements and agrarian activists, in particular Michael Davitt. Parnell, however, was also head of the National League, which had been set up to harness agrarian and nationalist protest after the suppression of the Land League. During 1885 the home rule movement underwent fundamental change and growth under Parnell and the National League.
In common parlance the term ‘Home Ruler’ gave way to ‘Nationalist’. The National League provided an effective organisation through its local branches, which expanded rapidly in 1885 and were based in every Irish county. Timothy Harrington was the main individual responsible for organising these National League branches. County conventions selected parliamentary candidates, under the supervision of representatives from the organising committee of the league, which was controlled by Parnell. A pledge was introduced to bind the MPs together into a tightly disciplined party.
Thus, as Conor Cruise O’Brien has remarked, the home rule movement was transformed into a ‘well-knit political party of a modern type—effectively monopolising the political expression of national sentiment’. The National League embraced farmers and labourers and so helped to mitigate the effects of social division. Effective steps were taken to marginalise Davitt and any others who challenged the party leadership. For example, a number of National League branches loyal to Davitt were closed down, and a strong effort was made to prevent any of his supporters gaining a nomination.
Vital for this socially cohesive, countrywide organisation was the forging of a ‘very effective, if informal, clerical nationalist alliance’, as Emmet Larkin has called it. Acceptance of Catholic claims in educational matters in mid-1885 won the party leadership the public approval of the Catholic hierarchy, which had hitherto been suspicious of Parnell and his plans. Catholic clergy were now given the right to attend Nationalist conventions to select parliamentary candidates. It has been estimated that these conventions for all 32 Irish counties had an approximate average of 150 laymen and 50 priests. The clergy played a prominent part not only at these conventions but also in organising National League branches.
In the months preceding the election, candidates were selected for every constituency, except those Ulster divisions with a Protestant majority. The one exception was Mid-Armagh, where a Nationalist was put forward at the last minute to undermine the chances of a Liberal standing, as part of a private agreement with the local Conservative organiser not to run a candidate in South Armagh, where the Nationalist leadership feared a split nationalist vote. In the end, however, so successful was the party in capturing the nationalist electorate that only in two Irish divisions did an independent nationalist stand at the general election. In early October 1885 Parnell declared that the party platform would consist of a single plank, ‘the plank of legislative independence’.

Southern loyalists

In response to this nationalist reorganisation, the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union (ILPU) was formed in Dublin in May 1885 by a number of southern businessmen, landowners and academics. It sought to unite Liberals and Conservatives in the three southern provinces on a common platform of maintenance of the union. The ILPU also published pamphlets and leaflets that were distributed widely. The organisation was successful in preventing rivalry between Liberals and Conservatives, and in a number of cases candidates came forward in the general election simply as ‘loyalists’. A total of 54 of the southern seats were contested by anti-home rule candidates.

Ulster Liberals

In Ulster, however, appeals for unity between supporters of the union went unheeded, and the general election of 1885 involved not only contests between Nationalists and supporters of the union but also rivalry between Liberals and Conservatives. On the eve of the elections the Ulster Liberals, whose support lay chiefly with the tenant farmers and included mainly Presbyterians and Catholics, held nine seats. With an impressive headquarters at the recently built Reform Club in Belfast, they sought to develop new local divisional associations. This reorganisation had only limited success, particularly in relation to the new labouring voters, thanks in part to the identification of the Liberals with the farmers’ cause. Liberal candidates declared their support for the union and also called for further land reform.

Ulster Conservatives

Col. E.J. Saunderson—one of the leading figures in forging a single pro-union Irish party in early 1886. (Vanity Fair)

Before the 1885 general election the Conservatives held seventeen seats in Ulster. While they were widely regarded as the former landlord party, they had developed a number of county and borough Conservative associations, although these bodies had a limited popular appeal. During 1885, however, under the energetic efforts of E.S. Finnigan, a full-time party organiser based in Belfast, the Conservatives extensively reorganised. Finnigan helped to set up many divisional associations with strong local participation, especially in the key areas of Belfast and counties Down and Antrim. Conventions of these associations then chose candidates for the general election. In their speeches and addresses the Conservatives emphasised their support for the union.
A vital aspect of this reorganisation was the involvement of the Orange Order, which experienced growth in this period. Local lodges were given special positions in many of the new organisations. For example, speaking in Ballynahinch, Co. Down, on 7 May 1885, Finnigan described proposals to set up a broadly based local association: ‘the Orange association would have a well-defined position. The district master and district officers . . . would be appointed upon . . . each committee’. At this stage the Order was a minority movement among Protestants, but it embraced many of the recently enfranchised labourers and was therefore an important means of integrating industrial and agricultural workers into the Conservative Party.
Such arrangements went smoothly in counties Antrim and Down but ran into trouble in Belfast and counties Armagh and Londonderry, where Orange labourers felt that they were being given no influence in the new Conservative machine: in the latter areas they rebelled against local Conservative organisers and either forced them to accept candidates agreeable to them or, as in the case of two of the four Belfast seats, ran independent candidates of their own. In North Armagh the divisional Conservative association was forced to replace its preferred candidate of the attorney-general, John Monroe, with the local Orangemen’s choice of Col. E.J. Saunderson.

Wheeler-dealing and cross-voting

Because the Nationalists only put forward candidates in Ulster constituencies with a Catholic majority, this left an uncommitted nationalist vote which now became very important in the struggle between Liberals and Conservatives. In late October 1885 Mrs Katherine O’Shea wrote confidentially to the Liberal whip at Westminster, Lord Richard Grosvenor, conveying a promise from Parnell that he would secure the Catholic vote in three Ulster divisions for the Liberals if they adopted her husband, Capt. W.H. O’Shea, as a Liberal candidate in Mid-Armagh. O’Shea visited the constituency but locals refused to accept him (subsequently, in early 1886, Parnell persuaded the Nationalists of Galway to take O’Shea as their candidate in a by-election).
In the final run-up to the elections private deals were made between local Conservative and Nationalist organisers in several divisions in counties Armagh and Down to prevent any splits in their own ranks and to undermine the Liberals. On the eve of the general election Parnell made a public statement that declared that if Liberals voted for Nationalists in several key Ulster seats, such as Derry city, then Nationalists should back Liberals in certain divisions: if the Liberals failed to do so then Nationalists should vote against them.
Contested elections were held on different days over a period of two weeks starting on 26 November 1885. When it soon became clear that Liberals had not supported Nationalists in the specified seats, a number of Nationalist spokesmen, including John Dillon, announced that the Catholic vote in remaining constituencies with no Nationalist candidates should be given to the Conservatives.

1885 general election outcome

The outcome of the general election was a startling one compared to the results of 1880, when 63 Home Rulers, 25 Conservatives and fifteen Liberals were returned. The Nationalist Party won 85 seats throughout Ireland, plus a seat in Liverpool. In Ulster the party held seventeen of the 33 constituencies. Apart from two Dublin University seats held by Conservatives, pro-union candidates won no seats outside Ulster. In Ulster the Conservative Party took sixteen seats while the Liberals failed to win any, which left the former as the principle spokesmen for unionism. (These Conservative figures include two successful independent candidates in Belfast who were subsequently adopted by official Conservative associations.)
This outcome revealed a high degree of religious polarisation in politics. Protestant Nationalists such as Parnell, or Catholic pro-union supporters such as Daniel O’Connell, grandson of the Liberator and a loyalist candidate in South Kerry, were exceptions. Out of 85 Nationalists, 80 were Catholic. Apart from three Presbyterians and one

Print of Charles Stewart Parnell (standing) and his MPs in April 1886. (T.P. O’Connor, Memoirs of an Old Parliamentarian, vol. I, 1929)

Methodist, the rest of the eighteen Conservatives were members of the Church of Ireland most of the unsuccessful Liberal candidates in Ulster had been Presbyterians. Contrary to earlier trends against landlords, eight of those Conservatives came from a landed background and owed their election in part to the new labourers’ vote, which went to them rather than to the pro-farmer Liberals.
An analysis of the voting also reveals that the electorate had divided sharply along denominational lines throughout the country. It is clear that most Catholics who voted backed the Nationalist Party, except in some northern constituencies where there were no Nationalist candidates and where Catholics voted Conservative for tactical reasons. In perhaps as many as six divisions in Ulster last-minute Catholic support for the Conservative against the Liberal proved significant. Some Catholics continued to support the Liberal cause in north-east Ulster. In a few southern constituencies small numbers of Catholics may have voted for pro-union candidates.
It is also evident that nearly all Protestants who voted supported pro-union candidates. Although Protestants were around ten per cent of the population outside Ulster, they were too widely dispersed to win any seats. In South Londonderry alone is there evidence of a significant number of Protestants voting for a Nationalist candidate. This was partly because of the reputation of the Nationalist candidate, T.M. Healy, on the land question and partly because of efforts to give the National League organisation in the county a non-sectarian image. Within nine months a second general would be called which would serve to copper-fasten the outcome of the 1885 general election.

Events 1885–6

The Irish Nationalist parliamentary party was now in a very strong position at Westminster. All 86 members were pledge-bound to support the party under the leadership of Parnell. Nationalists held the balance of seats between the two major parties in the House of Commons. The Ulster Conservatives lacked such central control, but early in 1886 they decided to form a broad-based group, including supporters from other constituencies, to work together as a pro-union Irish party: the two leading figures were William Johnston and Col. E.J. Saunderson.
Early in 1886 Gladstone announced his support for home rule, and in April the first home rule bill was introduced but defeated, which resulted in another general election in mid-1886. Gladstone’s action caused a split among the Liberals. In Ulster the vast majority of Liberals became ‘Liberal Unionists’ and joined with the Conservatives, now usually known as ‘Unionists’, in a common pro-union front. A small group of pro-Gladstone supporters fought the elections as Gladstonian Liberals. A new organisation called the Irish Protestant Home Rule Association (IPHRA), which aimed to promote home rule among Protestants, also appeared. The single issue at the general election of 1886 was the question of the union.

1886 general election

At the new general election only 33 constituencies in Ireland were contested, compared with 79 in 1885 outside Ulster a mere seven divisions out of 68 saw a poll. In the three southern provinces a Nationalist candidate stood for each seat, making a total of 70 Nationalist candidates, of whom 62 were returned unopposed six Conservatives and two Liberal Unionists also stood.
Most Ulster divisions were contested. In seventeen of these contests, Unionists (former Conservatives) faced Nationalists (including six members of the IPHRA), while in five Liberal Unionists fought Nationalists. In five divisions Gladstonian Liberals opposed Unionists. The bulk of former Liberals in the main Unionist-dominated constituencies in the north-east played little part in the election, leaving the Unionist political organisations to be effectively controlled by the Conservative victors of 1885.
The outcome of the general election was that, overall, Nationalists won 84 seats, plus a seat in Liverpool. Outside Ulster they controlled the entire Irish representation, except for the two Dublin University seats. In Ulster Unionists won fifteen seats and Liberal Unionists two, a telling picture of the comparative strength of the former Conservatives and Liberals in the new Unionist movement. The Liberal Unionists would survive as a minor grouping within the unionist family until the full incorporation of the Liberal Unionists into the Unionist Party in 1911.
Viewed broadly, it is evident again that most Catholic voters supported Nationalist candidates and most Protestant voters backed Unionists or Liberal Unionists. There was some, but not significant, variation to this general picture. Liberal Unionist candidates attracted some Catholic votes, which made a small but important difference in a number of divisions. Some Protestants, perhaps around 3,000, voted for Gladstonian Liberals or Nationalists (including members of the IPHRA) in Ulster.


The political developments of 1885–6 had important consequences for the evolution of both Nationalism and Unionism in Ireland. These two years were a time of great political mobilisation and change. The question of the union moved to centre stage. Events were influenced both by changes in the franchise and electoral law and by the emergence of modern types of party organisation, local and central. The response of party leaders and organisations not only affected party fortunes but also influenced greatly the whole nature of politics to develop at this time. The new party structures had an influential bearing on the type of politics and society to emerge.
The decision by both the Nationalist and Unionist party leaderships to link their political movements to important sectional groups, such as the Catholic clergy and the Orange Order, was important to meet the challenges of 1885–6 and to win the elections in a convincing manner. At the same time this response meant that the two victorious parties had decisively strengthened the links between their respective movements and denominational divisions in society.
The new nationalist movement that emerged had support from throughout the island of Ireland, but in practice it represented only the Catholic community. There had been links in the past between Irish nationalism and Catholicism, but the events of the mid-1880s established such links in a very public and thorough way. Ironically, it was a Protestant leader of the Nationalist Party, Parnell, who was responsible for the ‘alliance’ of 1884–5 between nationalism and the Catholic Church that played a vital part in the electoral success of his party. Undoubtedly, as Emmet Larkin has argued, this link had democratic benefits in that it prevented the emergence of an all-powerful central party, but it also helped to strengthen the denominational character of nationalism.
The new Unionist movement was concerned with defending the union, but because of the events of 1885–6 it represented only Protestants and its main base was in Ulster. Outside of Ulster, unionism remained an influential but politically weak minority. Furthermore, this Ulster unionism was linked strongly to the former Conservatives, with their strong Orange links, rather than to the former Liberals, who had made some effort to encourage cross-denominational support for their unionist stance. Ironically, the tactical support given by Nationalists to Conservatives in 1885 played a vital role in the shift of power in the pro-union movement to Conservative and Orange elements. While the link between the Orange lodges and the new Unionist associations did introduce a populist, democratic element into unionist politics, it also served to reinforce the denominational nature of unionism.
These general elections were a milestone in the evolution of modern nationalist and unionist movements in Ireland. Party leaders, organisers and supporters created a new order of politics in which religious and nationalist/unionist divisions were firmly related. The fact that these developments occurred at the same time as the extension of the franchise to most households and the emergence of modern party organisations helps to explain why the outcome of these particular elections proved to have such lasting importance. Later events would influence the eventual settlement in Ireland in 1921–2, but the basic shape of the conflict, with its closely linked political and religious features, was established in this formative period.

Brian Walker is Professor in the School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Further reading:

Woman&rsquos Suffrage Movement

One issue on which Wisconsin was not progressive during these years was the right of women to vote. Progressive leaders who endorsed worker and consumer rights were reluctant to grant women suffrage because they knew their male supporters opposed it.

On November 4, 1912, Wisconsin men voted suffrage down in a state referendum two-to-one. When politicians blocked new suffrage referenda in 1913 and 1915, Wisconsin women threw their energy into the national cause instead. A suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution finally passed in 1919, and the Wisconsin Legislature became the first to ratify it, giving women the right to vote in federal elections. However, Wisconsin women would not be able to vote in state elections until 1934.


Tarrant County's roots lie in the 'Old West' and much of our heritage can be traced to the era of the cowboy and the cattle drives that passed through Tarrant County. Tarrant County is one of 254 counties in Texas which were originally set up by the State to serve as decentralized administrative divisions providing state services and collecting state taxes.

Tarrant County, one of 26 counties created out of the Peters Colony, was established in 1849. It was named for General Edward H. Tarrant, commander of militia forces of the Republic of Texas at the Battle of Village Creek in 1841. The village of Grapevine the Texas Ranger outpost of Johnson's Station (in what is now south Arlington) and Bird's Fort, a short-lived private fort just south of present-day Euless, were early areas of western civilization in the region.

General William Jenkins Worth

On the bluff where the Tarrant County Courthouse now stands, a military post was established in 1849 by a company of the 2nd U.S. Dragoons under the command of Major Ripley A. Arnold. The fort was named in honor of General William Jenkins Worth, a hero of the Mexican War and commander of United States forces in this region.

Historic Tarrant County Courthouse - Before and after remodel

The first county seat election was held in 1851 and the location receiving the most votes, a few miles to the northeast, became Tarrant County's first county seat, designated Birdville as required by the statute creating the county. After the military post closed in 1853 and the little towns of Fort Worth and Birdville grew, a fierce competition sprang up between them to be the seat of county government. A second special county seat election was held in 1856, when Fort Worth edged out Birdville by only a handful of votes. Fights and fatal duels ensued over the next four years by supporters of both locations. Finally, in 1860, another special election was held. This time, Fort Worth, by now the larger town, received 548 votes. The geographical center of the county, a compromise location, garnered 301 votes. Birdville tallied only four.

From as early as 1856, regular stagecoach service passed through Tarrant County, carrying mail and passengers from the east on to the frontier forts and the West Coast. By the 1870's, mail stagecoaches arrived and departed from downtown Fort Worth six days a week. From the close of the Civil War and through the late 1870's, millions of cattle were driven up the trail through Tarrant County (roughly following Interstate 35 West) to the railheads in Kansas. After the Texas & Pacific Railroad reached Tarrant County and Fort Worth in 1876, Fort Worth became the largest stagecoach terminus in the Southwest - a hub for rail passengers to continue their journeys west by stagecoach.

1895 Tarrant County Courthouse

The Tarrant County Courthouse, completed in 1895, is fashioned of pink granite from central Texas and took over two years to build. Upon completion, even though the project had come in almost 20% under budget, the citizens of the county were so outraged by the perceived extravagance that, at the next election, the County Judge and the entire Commissioners Court were voted out of office.

Today, Tarrant County has a population of over 1.8 million, more than 2,700 times larger than in 1850, when its inhabitants numbered only 664.

For more information on Tarrant County history, please visit the Tarrant County Historical Commission page or contact the Tarrant County Archivist.

Watch the video: United States Presidential Election Results 1789 to 2020


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