The Land League

Agrarian protest organization that agitated for land reform during the Land War of 1879-82. The economic crisis of 1878-79 threatened Ireland’s rural population with a disaster comparable to the Great Famine. Following successful mass meetings at Irishtown and Westport, County Mayo, in April and June, the Irish National Land League was formed in Dublin, on October 21, 1879, by *Michael Davitt. *Parnell, then a rising star in the Home Rule party, agreed to act as president. The Land League vowed to ameliorate the drastic plight of the Irish peasantry by fighting against unjust rents and evictions and for tenant ownership.
Now for the first time landlords faced an organized tenant class in what became the greatest mass movement of Irish history. The League advocated nonviolence, preferring, instead, the more effective methods of mass meetings, and social ostracism, or  *boycotting. However, assaults on landlords and their agents, intimidation and damage to property became widespread, and the Gladstone government quickly passed the Protection of Persons and Property Act in 1881.
The Land League vigorously campaigned for the 3Fs—Fair Rent, Free Sale and Fixture of Tenure—and Gladstone’s *1881 Land Act, a milestone in land legislation, granted these demands to most tenants. (The 130,000 tenants in arrears and 150,000 leaseholders were, however, excluded from the Act.)
Parnell could neither accept nor reject the act without losing some degree of support. If he rejected the act, his moderate supporters would desert him, but on the other hand, acceptance of the act would alienate his more extreme followers, including the *Fenians who demanded more radical reforms. His solution was to abstain from voting for the legislation in Parliament and to condemn the act when it was passed.
In October 1881, Parnell was arrested for making a provocative speech in Wexford and imprisoned in *Kilmainham Gaol. From prison, Parnell issued a “No Rent Manifesto and the authorities responded by suppressing the League on October 20, 1881.
Parnell was released in May 1882 under the terms of the Kilmainham Treaty. He promised to restore law and order in the country, and the government, in return, would relax coercion and extend the 1881 Land Act to include those previously omitted. Following his release, Parnell refused to revive the Land League and dismantled the Ladies Land League.  He now considered the land question to be solved and began concentrating solely on the issue of national self-government. Davitt, the League’s chief architect, remained dissatisfied and disillusioned with Parnell.