On This Day

Anglo-Irish Treaty

Signature page of the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Signature page of the Anglo-Irish Treaty

Historical Context

In 1919 the Irish War of Independence broke out. Nationalism had been growing in Ireland since at least the 1880s, and Ireland had been under the dominion of Britain for centuries. The war would churn on for another two years before the parties came to the negotiating table beginning in July 1921, days after a truce that ended the war came into effect.

The talks took months and were eventually signed at 2:20am on December 6, 1921. Those involved included the British Prime Minister David Lloyd-George, Irish President Éamon de Valera and other figures such as Winston Churchill and Michael Collins. Valera did not participate in most of the discussions and eventually came out against the treaty but was outvoted by his cabinet.

The treaty created an Irish Free State that was to be afforded the same status as Canada, a self-governing dominion within the British Empire. Northern Ireland was given the option to leave the Free State, which it did. Disputes over the treaty led to the eruption of the Irish Civil War between pro and anti-treaty forces, and those in favor won the conflict.

Ireland remained under dominion status until 1937 when a new constitution was approved, effectively making Ireland a republic (though this was not formalized until 1949).

Document Info

Date taken: December 6, 1921
Location signed: London, England, United Kingdom

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Related Events

  • 1921-12-06 Anglo-Irish Treaty signed; Ireland receives dominion status; partition creates Northern Ireland
  • 1921-12-08 Eamon de Valera publicly repudiates Anglo-Irish Treaty
  • 1921-12-16 The Anglo-Irish Treaty, agreed to by the British Parliament and Sinn Féin, is ratified
  • 1922-01-07 The Anglo-Irish Treaty is ratified by Dail Eireann by a 64-57 vote
  • 1922-01-15 Arthur Griffith is elected president of the Irish Free State after Eamon de Valera resigns in opposition to the Anglo-Irish Treaty (De Valera will lead a military opposition seeking a unified and independent Ireland)

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