The Act of Union of 1800

The Act of Union of 1800 led to the merging of Great Britain and Ireland and resulted in the creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The union between Britain and Ireland was not smooth, as Ireland’s Christian values explicitly conflicted Britain’s Protestant values. Under this union, Ireland suffered a widespread famine. This contrasted with how Scotland and Britain’s union in 1700 was successful, as evidenced by the expansion of imperialistic conquests of the British Empire during the 1700s. In Scotland, as the Jacobites lost power, the Scottish viewed British nationalism as the embodiment of Protestant ideals, and the Scottish asserted that the Scottish Enlightenment played a pivotal role in the Glorious Revolution of 1688-1689, the union of Scotland and Britain seemed sensible and somewhat inevitable. In light of this contrast between Scotland’s and Ireland’s experiences of union with Britain, Britain’s sense of nationalism increased after the Act of Union of 1800, as Britain attempted to suppress the Catholicism of the Irish.

 This assertion of English Protestantism appears in Mill’s section on the influences of the continent and “especially from the St. Simonians,” whose school of thought brought “home to [Mill] a new mode of political thinking” (Mill 127). Mill notes that M. Comte, who developed much of the St. Simonians’ principles, posited that the “social science must be subject to the same three-stage law,” one of which includes viewing Protestantism as “the start of the metaphysical state and the doctrines of the French Revolution were its consummation” and that “its positive state was yet to come” (Mill 127). Here, Mill suggests that Protestantism is the driving force behind society’s progression and that Christianity is the “concluding phase of the theological state of the social science” (Mill 127). While Mill was not religious, he understands Protestantism through a historical lens and depicts it as an institution that paves the way for more freedom and the establishment of Enlightenment principles once its religious stage inevitably fades away. Moroever, Mill, who elsewhere underscores his Protestant ethic, suggests that Protestantism is a religion of an advanced post-French Revolution society while Catholicism is stagnant and outdated. These views align with the view toward Catholicism that Britain would have adopted to oppress the Irish.

 "Act of Union: The Creation of the United Kingdom." BBC, 27 February 2021,

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