London: The Liberal Publication Department, 1912. Liberal Publication Department edition. Pamphlet. This item is from the personal collection of Churchill's bibliographer, Ronald I. Cohen. This is the original pamphlet publication of Churchill's controversial February 8, 1912 speech in Belfast supporting Irish Home Rule. Churchill's father, Lord Randolph, had vigorously supported the Ulster Unionists. Over time, Winston came to support Home Rule. In the fall of 1911, Home Rule moved to the fore in political debate. Churchill prepared to speak in the Ulster Hall in Belfast in favor of Home Rule - the very same hall where his father famously opposed Home Rule in 1886, declaring "Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right."
This was an anticipated, significant, and controversial event. Tensions were so high that the meeting was "transferred from the Ulster Hall which lay in the strongly Protestant area to a large marquee at the Celtic Road football ground in the Catholic working-class district." History records that "Extraordinary precautions had to be taken to protect Churchill and his wife who had insisted on accompanying him. The Manchester Guardian reported that the railway line from Larne, where the Churchills landed in Ireland, to Belfast was patrolled by police to prevent sabotage." The Churchills' greeting was anything but friendly.
"A hostile crowd of nearly 10,000 greeted them outside the Grand Central Hotel in Belfast, where they were staying." Of the drive from the hotel to Celtic Road, The Times reported "As each car made its way through, men thrust their heads in and uttered fearful menaces and imprecations." The Manchester Guardian reported that "the back wheels of the Churchills' car were lifted eighteen inches off the ground by the angry crowd before the police beat them off." (Gilbert, Volume II, pages 466-7) Churchill addressed a crowd of 5,000 Irish Nationalists, saying: We look forward to a time... when the harsh and lamentable cry of reproach which so long jarred upon the concert of Empire will die away, when the accursed machinery, by which the hatred manufactured and preserved will be broken forever." Remembering his experience in South Africa and in marked contrast to his father's inflammatory rhetoric, Churchill said, "We have made friends with our enemies - can we not make friends with our comrades too?"
The Home Rule crisis of 1912-1914 was sidelined by the outbreak of World War I. Nonetheless, Churchill would ultimately introduce the Irish Free State Bill, which won passage in 1922. This publication of Churchill's speech is a 16-page wire stitched pamphlet in paper covers, published by The Liberal Publication Department. Per Cohen (Volume I, A35.1, p.186), the number "14" hand-stamped on the upper right corner of this pamphlet indicates that this pamphlet was disbound from the collected "Pamphlets and Leaflets for 1912" issued by the Liberal Publications Department. This accounts for the well-preserved condition. This copy remains crisp and clean apart from a few trivial blemishes to the front cover and faint discoloration to the bottom of the pamphlet throughout to a maximum depth of .25 inch. The covers remain firmly attached, with a one-inch split to the lower spine. The pamphlet is protected in a removable, archival quality mylar sleeve.
Reference: Cohen A35.1, Woods A20(a). Item #003175