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The Pamphlet Controversy about Wood’s Halfpence (1722-25) and the Tradition of Irish Constitutional Nationalism

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Sabine Baltes-Ellermann

The controversy about Wood’s Halfpence between 1722 and 1725 was an exceptional instance of Irish defiance of England’s imperial authority. In a heated public dispute, more than 100 pamphlets and broadsides in prose and verse protested against the English Government’s granting a patent for coining copper money for Ireland to an English manufacturer. Castigating the project in economic and constitutional terms, they revealed an indebtedness to traditional arguments for Ireland’s status as a free kingdom, whose people enjoyed the same liberties as the people of England. The pamphlets thus render a representative picture of Irish political thought and of the country’s relationship with its closest neighbour, and most powerful rival, England, in the early eighteenth century.
Contents: Ireland in the Early Eighteenth Century – The Origins and Development of Irish Constitutional Nationalism – The Controversy about Wood’s Halfpence (1722-25) – The Drapier and Popular Protest in Ireland.