Title

Britain's Role in the Irish Famine

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Junior

Major

History

Minor

Philosophy

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. Kathy Callahan

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

The Great Famine ravaged Ireland from 1845 to 1852 after a water mold infestation plagued the vulnerable potato crops, leading to the death and emigration of millions. Many historians claim the British were culpable for the famine due to their rapacious rule since the Acts of Union in 1801, some believing it was even an act of genocide. This would imply, however, that the British had a specific intent behind the Famine. The historical record shows that the British government had no such intent. Records of the written work and efforts of Sir Charles Trevelyan, assistant secretary to the Treasury, and an examination of British opinion and progressive relief efforts reveal that the British government was hostile and inept, but did not intentionally exacerbate the Famine. They did what they could to relieve the Irish with the resources available, but laissez-faire notions of self-sufficiency, an economic priority of the British Empire, likely led to their inattention to the plight of the Irish.

Spring Scholars Week 2019 Event

Pounds, Dreams, and Empire: British History

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Britain's Role in the Irish Famine

The Great Famine ravaged Ireland from 1845 to 1852 after a water mold infestation plagued the vulnerable potato crops, leading to the death and emigration of millions. Many historians claim the British were culpable for the famine due to their rapacious rule since the Acts of Union in 1801, some believing it was even an act of genocide. This would imply, however, that the British had a specific intent behind the Famine. The historical record shows that the British government had no such intent. Records of the written work and efforts of Sir Charles Trevelyan, assistant secretary to the Treasury, and an examination of British opinion and progressive relief efforts reveal that the British government was hostile and inept, but did not intentionally exacerbate the Famine. They did what they could to relieve the Irish with the resources available, but laissez-faire notions of self-sufficiency, an economic priority of the British Empire, likely led to their inattention to the plight of the Irish.