Launch of Patrick Griffin's new book - "The Townshend Moment: The Making of Empire and Revolution in the Eighteenth Century"

Author: Mary Hendriksen

Patrick Griffin Select

On Tuesday evening, January 9, Dublin’s O’Connell House was the site of the launch of a new book by Patrick Griffin, Madden-Hennebry Professor of History and the new Director of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies: The Townshend Moment: The Making of Empire and Revolution in the Eighteenth Century (Yale University Press, 2017).

The book takes as its focus the year 1767—and recounts how two British brothers, Charles and George Townshend, attempted to reform an empire but instead helped to incite rebellion and revolution in America and insurgency and reform in Ireland.  As British chancellor of the exchequer in 1767, Charles Townshend instituted fiscal policy that served as a catalyst for American rebellion against the Crown, while his brother George’s actions at the same moment as lord lieutenant of Ireland politicized the kingdom, leading to Irish legislative independence.

In chronicling and analyzing the brothers’ actions in this critical year, The Townshend Moment offers readers both a case study and a meditation on empire, reform, and revolution; yet, a second key theme is the interplay between chance and human action.

“Fate had given [Charles and George Townshend], as opposed to some others, the ability to act,” Professor Griffin states in the book’s prologue. “The accidents of history, then, created an open window for two men convinced that the world was made of windows.”

David Dickson, Vice-Provost of Trinity College Dublin and Professor of Modern History, launched The Townshend Moment.

Townshend Moment

Guests included Rachael Naughton (Manager of the Naughton Scholarships, a programme established in 2008 to promote the study of engineering, science and technology at third level in Ireland); Declan Kiberd (Donald and Marilyn Keough Professor of Irish Studies, Professor of English and Irish Language and Literature, University of Notre Dame); Kevin Whelan (Michael Smurfit Director of the Keough Naughton Notre Dame Centre in Dublin); Marie Bourke (National Gallery of Ireland); Ciaran Brady (Professor of Early Modern History and Historiography, Trinity College Dublin); Patrick Geoghegan (Professor in Modern History, Trinity College Dublin), Fr. William Dailey, CSC (Notre Dame-Newman Centre for Faith and Reason); and Joya Helmuth (Director of Operations and Communications, Notre Dame International).

Professor Griffin’s previous books include The People with No Name: Ireland's Ulster Scots, America's Scots Irish, and the Creation of a British Atlantic World (Princeton, 2001), American Leviathan: Empire, Nation, and Revolutionary Frontier (New York, 2007) and America’s Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2012). His most recent edited book is Experiencing Empire: Power, People, and Revolution in Early America (University of Virginia Press, 2017).

Professor Griffin became the director of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies on January 1, 2018. Read more.