To what extent did Protestant Ulstermen oppose political change
1. Act of Union = opposed change originally, thought they'd lose dominance, BUT Catholic emancipation not granted, retained religious, economic and political monopoly, so became more committed to the Union as Catholics began more anti-Unionist. They also gained economically, and the extent to which they gained is shown in the rise of Unionism, particularly when Protestant businessmen invested in the area, and so their industry (linen, cotton) developed where as Catholic peasantry in south relied on agriculture = undeveloped. The proof of Ulster's economic gain from the Union is shown by the strength of Unionist feeling in the 1880s onwards!
2. Catholic Emancipation/ rise of O'Connell, 1820s. They would have disliked the idea of Catholics gaining power, were afraid of O'Connell's influence, HOWEVER, they would have been happy that with Emancipation, Peel reduced the electorate so most Catholics lost the vote, so in this case they were not entirely opposed to political change, but they become more uneasy as Catholics slowly gain land ownership (after Famine) and political power (1872 Secret Ballot Act, 1898 Local Government Act).
3. Tithe War (1829-1838). Ends with Tithe Commutation Act, makes tithes a fixed additional rent charge, payable to landlords. Ulstermen were mainly Presbyterian, so didn't like tithes or Church of Ireland, and they weren't as affected as Catholic tenant farmers, who resented their landlords (landlordism, I have gathered, was not the same problem in Ulster as it was elsewhere - the "Ulster custom" had always protected Ulstermen unlike their southern counterparts). With the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland (1869) Protestant Ulstermen would also not oppose political change, BUT they would oppose the rise of Catholicism as a consequence of political reform - they know they're a minority in Ireland!
4. Ulster was not as badly affected by the Great Famine (1845-1849) as the rest of Ireland, unlike their southern counterparts they did not resent Westminster for the LACK of politcal change, e.g, those in the south did not agree with the Laissez-faire policy, they actually wanted political change during the famine to prevent them starving. Ulster instead had gained massively from the free trade granted with the Union, and although they had been affected by the economic downturn (1815- end of Napoleonic wars) they thought the North had prospered due to the Union, and due to their industry over taking agriculture, they did not desire political change as tenant farmers did (e.g, growth of tenant's rights in 1850s-1870s, especially under the activities of the Land league after the onset of agricultural depression, 1879).
5. Home Rule, beginning from 1st HR bill in 1886. Riots in Belfast. Ulstermen see Home Rule as "Rome Rule" and it's one of the main reasons that they (and the Conservative party for that matter) are reluctant, or downright opposed to Home Rule. They thought that their civil liberties would be affected by a Dublin parliament which they imagined would be dominated by nationalists and Fenians, there was never any dialogue between the 2 sides. 1886 Anti-Repeal Union formed, alliance with the Conservatives, Lord Randolph decides to "play the Orange card" by declaring "Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right!"
1904, Ulster Unionists are furious at the idea of Devolution in the scheme proposed by the Conservatives. Wyndham has to resign over it, and I think Carson denounces it as "Home Rule by installments!" They form their own Council in 1905, Unionist council is made up of all strands of Unionism, Orange order, clubs, Protestant churches etc. in this way they take steps to prevent poltical change being imposed on them, and instigate their own political change!
The biggest opposition to political change is in response to the 3rd Home Rule Bill (1912). This takes the form of mass demonstrations (Carson and Craig, Bonar-Law) e.g, "Covenant day" sept. 1912, should probably mention that Ulstermen and Bonar-Law are opposed to political change even in 1910, when they realise that the alliance between Asquith and Redmond will eventually result in a Home Rule Bill, Bonar-Law calls this a "corrupt bargain!" Anyway, Ulstermen begin to use armed resistance to oppose political change in the form of the UVF, formed Jan. 1913. Whilst this happens in Ireland, Carson, Craig and Bonar-Law also politically challenge the House of Commons, shouting down Asquith etc.
Larne gun-running, 1914, shows that they would have been prepared to fight the Nationalists/ British army in armed combat, if Home Rule was enforced. Home Rule is only suspended due to the outbreak of WW1, but the shelving of the Irish question only narrowly avoids Civil War, the Buckingham palace conference of 1914 ends in failure as the Unionists won't except temporary exclusion, Carson says it's a "stay of execution" for Ulster. Even after the "policy of Exclusion" is discussed, there is a debate over what to do with the 2 border-line counties of Ulster, which are 50/50 Catholic and Protestant. Each side wants to keep them! They agree to partition in principle, but nothing happens as HR is placed on the statue book, for after WW1.
After Easter Rising there are attempts at more talks for an Irish settlement, however once again Ulstermen oppose political change, as they remain "immovable" at the Irish Convention of 1917, despite Lloyd George's efforts.
HOWEVER, the outbreak of the Anglo-Irish war in 1919, and the rise of Republicanism/ Sinn Fein (1918) means that when the 1920 Government of Ireland Act proposes a separate parliament for Northern Ireland, they are happy to comply, as they wish to avoid the violence of the IRA's campaign in the South. In this way, paradoxically, Protestant Ulstermen end up accepting political change in the form of Home Rule, as they see it as the lesser of two evils - at least they get to keep their connection with Britain! Carson and Craig want to defend Unionism at all costs, but when it came to it they know that it can be defended best in Ulster, and so in a weird way (the Gov. of Ireland Act) can be seen as a desperate attempt to maintain some sort of Union with Britain, rather than demand independence like the South.