During the 1880s Irish terrorism posed significant difficulties for American international relations. State Department officials at home and abroad monitored and assessed the activities and ideologies of many radical groups throughout Europe, but few were more burdensome and frustrating than Irish-American dynamiters. Recurrent threats to life and property in the United Kingdom and allegations of ties to American institutions and citizens eventually prompted American diplomats to articulate an aversion to terrorism. State Department officials also faulted the British colonial system for creating an environment that nurtured violent resistance and for using counter-terrorist measures believed to be repressive and largely ineffective. The diplomatic complications created by Irish nationalists eventually gave way to a mutual Anglo-American ideological repulsion to terrorism.
Jonathan W. Gantt recently completed his doctoral dissertation at the University of South Carolina under the direction of Ken Clements. He is presently a visiting professor at Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina.