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Captain Boycott: 1879-1880

Charles Boycott is a retired English army officer working as the agent on the Irish estate of the earl of Erne. A bad harvest in 1879 causes the earl's tenants to demand a reduction in their rents. Boycott responds in 1880 by serving eviction notices.

The incident is one of the first in which the newly formed Irish Land League becomes involved. Parnell, president of the league, proposes that in all similar cases the tenants should refuse to communicate with landlords or agents trying to evict them. A new word is needed for a new kind of political action, and it is found in the name of the unfortunate agent. The boycott becomes a widely used and effective tactic.


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