This chapter examines Edmund Burke's views on the place of his homeland, Ireland, within the British Empire. It begins by situating Burke's biography, with its dual Protestant and Catholic elements, within the broader context of Ireland's ambiguous historical status both as a quasi-independent sister kingdom within the framework of “multiple monarchy” and as a colony subordinate to England. It then considers Burke's stand regarding absentee taxation, free trade, and Ireland's legislative independence to highlight his willingness to keep Ireland as a subordinate part of the empire and at the same time alleviate the plight of Irish Catholics. It also discusses Burke's fear that the Protestant Ascendancy was leading the Irish lower and middling orders of both Catholics and Protestant Dissenters to coalesce in support of the United Irishmen. The chapter argues that Burke would have favored the union of Great Britain and Ireland, which in fact occurred only a few short years after his death.
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