After the constitutional crisis and the introduction in April 1912 to the House of Commons of the Third Home Rule Bill, Unionists, mainly in Ulster, feared that Ireland would no longer be directly ruled from Westminster. The leader of this opposition to Home Rule was Sir Edward Carson who in September 1912 penned the first signature in the ‘Solemn League and Covenant’ with a silver pen at Belfast City Hall. He was followed by Lord Londonderry, Protestant Clergymen and Lord Craigavon.
By September 28th 1912, the covenant was signed by 471,414 people (237,368 men and 234,046 women) who agreed to resist any attempt to implement Home Rule, and would ultimately lead to the founding of the Ulster Volunteer Force, which numbered 100,000 men, some of who reportedly had earlier signed the covenant in their own blood (although evidence now suggests only one man, Major Fred Crawford, an Larne gun-runner, did this).
The Covenant for Men
BEING CONVINCED in our consciences that Home Rule would be disastrous to the material well-being of Ulster as well as of the whole of Ireland, subversive of our civil and religious freedom, destructive of our citizenship, and perilous to the unity of the Empire, we, whose names are underwritten, men of Ulster, loyal subjects of His Gracious Majesty King George V, humbly relying on the God whom our fathers in days of stress and trial confidently trusted, do hereby pledge ourselves in solemn Covenant, throughout this our time of threatened calamity, to stand by one another in defending, for ourselves and our children, our cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom, and in using all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland. And in the event of such a Parliament being forced upon us, we further solemnly and mutually pledge ourselves to refuse to recognize its authority. In sure confidence that God will defend the right, we hereto subscribe our names. And further, we individually declare that we have not already signed this Covenant.
The Declaration for Women
We, whose names are underwritten, women of Ulster, and loyal subjects of our gracious King, being firmly persuaded that Home Rule would be disastrous to our Country, desire to associate ourselves with the men of Ulster in their uncompromising opposition to the Home Rule Bill now before Parliament, whereby it is proposed to drive Ulster out of her cherished place in the Constitution of the United Kingdom, and to place her under the domination and control of a Parliament in Ireland. Praying that from this calamity God will save Ireland, we hereto subscribe our names.
Photo of the Covenant
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