The Belfast Jacobin is the first-ever biography of Samuel Neilson, a founding member of the Society of United Irishmen whose profound influence on the radical movement was to alter the course of Irish history.
Samuel Neilson joined Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell at the inaugural meeting of the United Irishmen in 1791, forming a radical front whose sole purpose was to overthrow the British establishment in Ireland. Neilson, as editor of the Northern Star, was to be the principal proponent in shaping the United Irishmen’s ideology before it was brutally suppressed by the British army; he brought the international outcry caused by the French Revolution into Irish focus, attracting unprecedented levels of popularity – putting public dissatisfaction into words and gathering the forces necessary for revolt.
Kenneth Dawson, conducting original research and drawing upon innumerable archives, reveals Neilson’s formidable strength as an organiser of radical politics, his incessant run-ins with law and order, and his central role in the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Samuel Neilson brought talk of revolution to the street – The Belfast Jacobin is a pivotal history that illuminates the true import of his deeds and writing, sorely obscured in all accounts of the 1978 Rebellion, until now.
Table of Contents
1: Son of the Manse
2: Belfast Politics, 1790–1
3: Printing, Processions and Papists, 1792
4: Trials and Tribulations, 1793–4
5: System of Eternal Silence, 1794–5
6: At the Head of the Conspirators, 1796
7: Within These Walls, 1797
8: The Northern Incendiary, 1798
9: Worse Than Punic, 1798-9
10: This Dreary Mansion: From Fort George to the New World, 1800–3
About the Author
Kenneth Dawson is a graduate of the Queen’s University of Belfast and recipient of the Esther Ballentine Award for Modern History (1987–91). He was Head of History and Politics at Down High School, Downpatrick 1997–2008 and has been Vice-Principal since 2008. He has been researching the United Irishmen for a number of years and is the author of numerous articles on the subject. He now resides in Ballynahinch County Down, close to the scene of the battle that took place there in 1798.