O'Connor, Feargus

O'Connor, Feargus fûrˈgəs [key], 1794–1855, Irish Chartist leader. Elected to the Parliament of 1832 as a supporter of Daniel O'Connell, he soon quarreled with O'Connell and was forced out of Parliament in 1835. Thereafter he devoted himself chiefly to the English radical movement. In 1837 he founded a paper, the Northern Star, which developed into the foremost organ of Chartism. O'Connor quickly became a leader of the Chartists and, for more than a decade, played a major role in their conventions. But his advocacy of physical force created difficulties with the government and disunity within the movement. In 1846 he began a land distribution scheme that came to be known as the National Land Company. Reelected to Parliament in 1847, he organized the demonstration of 1848 that presented the third Chartist petition to Parliament. The disclosure that many of the petition signatures were falsified and the bankruptcy of his land company discredited him completely. In 1852 he was declared insane.

See biographies by D. Read and E. Glasgow (1961) and J. Epstein (1982).

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