February 2, 1880

Charles Parnell, founder of the Irish Parliament Party and one of Ireland’s most important nationalist leaders of the 19th century, became the first Irishman to address the United States Congress on this day in 1880. On a visit to the US with fellow Irish nationalist John Dillon, Parnell was able to raise £60,000 for the Land League, an organization which the two men helped found in an effort to aid poor Irish tenant farmers. Parnell’s leadership in spearheading the Irish Home Rule movement would later come to an end in 1886 after his affair with Katherine O’Shea (a married woman) became public and she was forced to file for divorce, a scandal which did not go over well with Parnell’s Catholic supporters.

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