Weekly Series on Centenary of Events of 1919 - 1921.
Compiling the web's most definitive timeline of years the 131 weeks during the Irish War of Independence with daily updates @ https://twitter.com/131Weeks
The members of the Irish-American Delegation, Messrs, M. J. Ryan and E. F. Dunne, accompanied by their secretary, Mr. Lee, left Dublin to-day for the North, and are expected to arrive back at Amiens Street at 9.40 to-night. On arrival in Belfast the delegates were accorded a hearty reception. They expressed their intention of calling on the Lord Mayor of Belfast and also on Most Rev. Dr. McRory, Bishop of Down and Connor.
The Lord Mayor declined to meet the delegates, saying he had another engagement.
The " Belfast News-Letter " makes a bitter attack on Mr. Lloyd George for permitting the American delegates to visit Ireland on their present mission, and also for making any arrangement about an interview with them in reference to the case of Ireland. Dublin Corporation members are to be summoned to a special! meeting next Saturday for the purpose of meeting the members of the delegation in Dublin.
On returning to Dublin last night from a motor tour through Wicklow, including a visit to Glendalough, Mr, F. P. Walsh left by the night mail boat for England on private business, He is expected back in Ireland on Wednesday morning in time to join his colleagues In the visit to Cork on that day.
In the course of its leading article to-day under the title "Mr. Lloyd George and the Rebels" the "Belfast News-Letter" says—The Prime Minister is attempting to do too much. For several months he has acted as the representative of the British Empire at the Peace Conference, and the reports about the policy which he was pursuing made it necessary for over three hundred members of the House of Commons to send him a telegram reminding him of his and their election pledges in regard to the terms of peace, and for him to come from Paris to explain his action and to assure the House that he adhered to all that he said during the election campaign. While he was working almost night and day at the Pence Conference, he is also trying to direct the domestic policy of the Government, and apparently he comes to decisions without consulting more than one or two of his colleagues.
In fact, he is acting as an autocrat in both home and foreign affairs, and the work is beyond his strength. The consensus is that he is making grave mistakes. The invitation to the Bolsheviks to discussions was one, and of the Irish-American delegates who are now visiting this country are telling the truth, he has just made another of equal magnitude, and he is preparing to make a third for which it will be impossible to offer any excuse.
They say that not only has he consented to have an interview with them, but that he intends to issue passports to the rebels, Mr. De Valera, Mr. Griffith, and "Count" Plunkett, to Paris as the representatives of "the Irish Republic." We are unwilling to believe that Mr. Lloyd George intends so to humiliate the United Kingdom and affront all loyal subjects of the King.
Who are these Irish-American delegates? They have come to Paris from the Irish Race Convention presided over by the notorious Judas - Cohalan, whom President Wilson refused to receive on a deputation, and their object, as they stated when they applied in Washington for passports, is to obtain from the Peace Conference the International recognition of the Republican form of government established by the Irish people. They came to Paris, and they are now in Ireland, as the enemies of England, and of all who are loyal to England throughout the British Empire.
The Unionist Press of Great Britain and Ireland are obviously upset at the visit of the Irish-American Envoys to Ireland. They condemn Mr. Lloyd George for having sanctioned this visit, and bluntly ask What does he mean? in dealing with the situation created by the visit of the Irish-American Envoys to Ireland. The "Daily News" says:
What does it mean? Simply that England today must face the issue that has been becoming clearer and clearer since Easter, 1916. Without a complete and decisive change of attitude and of policy we shall continue to stand condemned before our own self-governing Dominions, before America, and before the world.
The " Morning Post" is full of wrath, at the presence in Ireland of the three members of the Irish-American Commission, and says:—
The British people are likely to resent the intervention of Americans, whether Irish-American, or even the President of the American Republic, in British affairs. These affairs are our own business, and the business of nobody else. And if Mr. Lloyd George should sink so low as to have any truck with this attempt by foreign emissaries to intervene in our domestic affairs, he is betraying the sovereign powers entrusted to him by his King and the nation.
Th8 Envoys, Messrs M J. Ryan and E. F. Dunne, left Dublin this morning on a tour to the South. After being heartily greeted all the way they arrived in Cork, where they were accorded a demonstration of extraordinary warmth.
ENVOYS' TRIUMPHAL TOUR TRIUMPHANT TOUR
Cheers and Greetings all Along the Route
(From "Evening Herald" Reporter). Cork, Wednesday.
The American envoys, Messrs. E. Dunne and Mr. Ryan, who were accompanied by Messrs. Cosgrave and Mulcahy, M.Ps, left Dublin this morning by the limited mail train, en-route for Cork. Early as the hour was a considerable crowd was on the platform, and hearty cheers were raised as the train started out.
At Maryborough, a company of Volunteers drawn up on the platform, together with members of the Cumann-na-mBan and na Fianna. Several beautiful Republican and American flags were displayed, and after a few minutes the train left amidst scenes of remarkable enthusiasm.
Representatives from the local Sinn Féin groups waited the arrival of the delegates at Thurles and wished them success in their mission. An elaborate S.F flag from the battlements of an old castle close to the tracks attracted the attention of the visitors. [The train moved through Emly, and then Knocklong Train Stations.] A great Tipperary cheer went as the train steamed into Limerick Junction. The platform was a riot of colour with Sinn Fein and American flags; and the enthusiasm when the delegates were there was unbounded.
A number of military and police were on the spot. Despite the fact that this portion of Tipperary is a military area, there was not the slightest attempt to interfere with the joyous proceedings. …
Extraordinary Demonstration In Southern Capital
Our Reporter travelling with the Envoys, in writing of their arrival there, says The hackneyed phrase, "a royal reception" scarcely describes the scenes in the Southern capital. The reception extended until at Blackpool it had reached the dimensions of a huge public demonstration. When the train drew up at the Cork terminus an extraordinary spectacle was presented.
The spacious platform was thronged from end to end, bands struck up martial airs, flags and banners waved, and a spontaneous roar of welcome from thousands of Munster throats boomed and volleyed and almost shook the station buildings.
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, and Members of The Dáil, the generous and hearty welcome given to this delegation by the people of Ireland has of course evoked a very deep sense of appreciation upon the part of the delegation. Impressive as it has been up to this moment, the honour conferred upon us by this legislative body, with the information obtained in an official way, was even more profoundly so because, after all, the mandate we bear while political in a sense, is in a higher sense a business mandate, which has to do with a definite charge, made, not alone, we hope, by twenty millions of people of Irish blood represented in the Philadelphia Convention, but, as your President has so well stated, by the great heart of America itself. As we moved through your fair land, and particularly coming through the City of Dublin last night, I know that my colleagues as well as myself must have caught the spirit of the great soul of you all. To pass the spot where Emmet, in the traditional Irish way so beautifully described by Patrick Pearse in the record of his dream, gave up his beautiful young life with a careless toss of the head and smile for the liberty of the people of his land, and for the principles which are the foundation of the independence of that country of which I am proud to say I am an humble citizen; to pass the house in which lay before interment the body of the immortal Wolfe Tone; to see the building in which Lord Edward Fitzgerald gave personal combat to his captors; to pass the house from which the Sheares Brothers went forth to their execution; to look into, as we did yesterday, the white face of the widow of Thomas J. Clarke, a citizen of these two Republics; and meet the mother of the proclaimed President of the Irish Republic and of his martyred brother, who gave up their lives in the Easter Rising; to reflect, as we must reflect, upon the service to struggling humanity, upon the heroic fight and the brutally painful death of James Connolly; and to pass along the very scenes of his activity make our service as we desire it to be of worth to you seem infinitestimal in the face of such surroundings. True is the word of the bard who sung:
"Sweet is the love of a woman and sweet is the kiss of a child;
Sweet is the tender strength and the bravery of the mild;
But sweeter than all, for embracing all, is the young life's peerless price;
The young heart laid on the altar as a Nation's sacrifice."
And as we passed the historic building in which the Irish Parliament sat in the days of Ireland's glory and the material upbuilding for a short time of Dublin and its surroundings, I saw again the figure of that great constructive statesman of revolutionary days, our own Benjamin Franklin, coming as the ambassador of a struggling people seeking light as you are to-day; seeking the assistance in spirit at least of the Irish people through the regularly elected Parliament, and not seeking it in vain; bringing back to his country the word that the first country appealed to the Irish Nation had responded to the cry of freedom of the American Colonies through its regularly constituted Parliament; and I think again of those days when Washington and his compatriots, like others of this day, were struggling with the intellectual problems involved in the establishment of a nation, spoken of to-day but then a struggling one as the strongest and most powerful one on the face of the earth; and I contemplated also the advice given by Washington and the other founders of our country, that our country was one which should stand away, as it were, in splendid isolation, far from the entangling alliances and the politics of Europe, and have nothing to do with the changes in the map of that Continent. Again I see a great change coming over the policy of our country to-day.
May I stop here to express our century-old policy in the words of a man dear to the heart of everyone in this Dáil to-day a patriot of yours, a great statesman of ours, a sweet singer of the world, a fighter in the great cause of humanity, the sainted John Boyle O'Reilly. When France made a present to its cross-Atlantic Sister Republic of the great Statue that stands in the harbour of New York, one that is familiar to every school child now in that land of liberty and light in the world, this distinguished son of freedom, then I do not exaggerate the foremost man of letters in the United States, was called upon to write an Ode commemorative of that presentation. I recall the closing words of that Ode, because that Statue, as you know, is the heroic figure of a woman holding aloft in the right band a lighted torch, and on the left arm a scales. These were O'Reilly's words:
"I am Liberty, God's daughter,
My symbols a law and a torch
Not a sword to threaten slaughter
Nor a flame to dazzle and scorch
But a light that the world may see,
And a truth that shall make men free."
And when we entered on this war, I recall one of the most stirring utterances of him who voiced the thought of the American people upon this great departure from their ancient policy and who stated: "We are but in a greater way carrying out the practice of more than a century, when we started out upon the high and honourable career of teaching the beauties of freedom to all the peoples of the earth." And so at this point I might answer the suggestion made by the unthinking, that the question of the recognition of the Irish Republic is a domestic question, with which no person has to do except the Government of Great Britain and the people upon this island. I might say that no great wrong inflicted on one nation by another is a domestic question. Unless I say that I must turn my back upon my own country's course in the history of the world. I must write the condemnation of one of the most important acts ever performed by my Government, when they went into the Island of Cuba and swept from the western hemisphere for ever the hand of monarchy.
Had it been a war of revenge, had it been a conflict of reprisal, had it been anything except what our plighted word has said to the world was the motive that caused us to enter upon this world conflict, then I would be compelled to say that we had come all too late into it. Belgium had been violated, the Lusitania had been sunk, the lives of American citizens engaged in their ordinary avocations had been ruthlessly sacrificed; but there was no call to arms on the part of our country; and let me say if I may have the temerity to do so for the thought of my own people in America, what I believe to be the controlling psychology that finally determined us upon the course we after wards took. It was not, as I say, out of motives of revenge, it was not on account of the great wrongs done our country incidental to the war between the other monarchies and nations, but our course was determined from the spirit of the so-called Zimmerman note. It was finally disclosed that the Imperial German Government had designs through Mexico upon our own fair land. It was suggested, that if assistance could be given, perhaps such a situation could be brought about, that our territory, the great State of Texas equalling an empire in extent, the great State of Arizona and Lower California, and other parts of the country might be divided between the victorious armies; and I say to you as an American to-day, that in my humble opinion, what drove us into this war was the thought that the heel of the invader might press upon our sacred soil. And regardless of what their thought might have been prior to that time, I say that the entry of America into this war on terms so clear and unequivocal that all may understand, denies for ever the claim of any man or any government that the question of Ireland is not an international question in which the whole world is interested to-day, and on the proper solution of which depends the ultimate and permanent peace of the world.
We live in a democracy as self confessed Republicans. No autocrat has a right to declare war for us. It can only be done by the Congress of the United States, and the only power that the Chief Executive has is to advise Congress as to the necessity of action; as to the state of the country in its foreign relations; and sign the resolution that makes war possible. When that was done in this instance it was done upon the terms now known to the world. The most sacred bond was written by 115 millions of people, by their representatives in the Congress of the United States, and accepted by the Entente Allies and by the independent people of the world. That declaration when written and declared and acted upon, meant that Ireland had the right to a free and independent existence if the people of Ireland chose a government of that kind. For it was declared that this war, so far as America was concerned, was for the right of all who submit to authority to have a compelling voice in their own government; for the rights and liberties of the small nations of the world; for a universal dominion of right, by a concert of action of free peoples that would make safe and secure and peaceful all the nations of the world, and finally make the world itself free. And as though to make it impressive on the nations of the world, we declared that to this task we would devote our fortunes, our lives, all that we had and all that we were. When that declaration was made on that very night I had the honour of addressing the Catholic Club in Kansas City in Missouri, at a banquet given in honour of an American citizen of Irish blood, who had just crawn his sword and was ging into our army as Colonel of the local regiment, and it came to every man at that gathering that this bond meant the end of the Irish question and the absolute freedom of Ireland at last; for here was a nation with a homogenous population. There was nothing said about its boundaries, to question about its territory, because God settled it by the circle of the seas. It was a people that had held with vitality to their common concepts of freedom and justice with unparalleled persistence in the history of the world; a people that has kept alive the fires of human liberty, not only in their own land, but had also flung themselves across the face of the civilised and uncivilised world, preaching liberty everywhere, and putting it into practise with incomparable skill in every other land on the face of the earth.
And again I had the great privilege of standing on the beautiful slope of the Potomac river after we had entered that war, at the grave of the immortal Washington, and of hearing our great President speak at the tomb that held all that was mortal of the great founder of our Republic; and I felt there the spirit of the great Washington, and of the company which surrounded him in the revolutionary days. I saw them looking out upon the world as a whole and saying: "We are a people who will have done with classes, and have done with rulers acting without the consent of the people whom they rule." We took our cue from those dead patriots of the past. We intend what they intended. The only difference in our causes is that they fought for the freedom of the original thirteen American States while we fight for the freedom of all the nations of the world, large and small.
Our mission here and its spirit need I say, not in the spirit of boastfulness is to press the Irish question; which throughout my life at least has been reasonably clear to the people of the United States, and exceedingly clear to many of them who might be called students in the great sphere of American intellectuality; but up to this there was withal something that was confusing. Some people who had a great regard for the welfare of Ireland were kept apart, sometimes on account of prejudice, sometimes on account of misunderstanding, oftener on account of incapacity to grasp the subtleties of the differences between the Irish people themselves. To-day the people of America understand the aspirations of the people of Ireland; they are so beautifully lucid, so remarkably clear, that any person of ordinary understanding may not be confused. Ireland to-day has done with all talk as America understands it, of the Repeal of the Union, of Home Rule, of Dominion Home Rule, of the various shades of refinement of European, Irish, and English politics; and I may para-phrase if I may, Mr. President your interest in the words of our great President at Mount Vernon, when I say that you take your cue from us; you intend what we intended. You have established, by a vote of the Irish people, a form of Government along the lines of the American Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States, and unless interfered with from outside, through the help of God Almighty you intend to have a Government such as we have.
Might I say in passing and I crave your indulgence for a little tediousness that our country has had an experience that would be very helpful to the nations of the world when your representatives go to Paris as I hope they will to present the case of Ireland, not to England, the interested of all nations in the question; but to the disinterested nations of the world. They would call on as for assistance, which we hope to render in our humble way in such an eventuality. Perhaps we might mention the one monumental mistake made by our country at its inception, as a warning to the nations of the world in dealing with this Irish question. Our Government is based upon the consent of the governed. That is practically the first line in the American Bill of Rights; but when we came to act, it seems that we had a mental reservation; namely, that all persons should have a voice in the government except the black slaves of America. Slavery was an institution built up and interwoven with the economic foundations of our Government itself; and it was as false in economics as it was a brutal preversion of the thoughts of the Creator, that slavery should be allowed; but it was thought to be the fundamental basis of the social structure of the United States, built on economy and industry. The great plantations of the South were manned by slave labour, labour that could be purchased in flesh and blood and everything but the souls of this unfortunate people. This had reached in so deep in the warp and woof of the very fabric of our Government that it was thought to be right. The slaves could not at that time be considered as an integral unit of our Government, and so we went along with black slavery for half a century, until Lincoln, the great Liberator, rose and stated that no Government could exist half slave and half free; and he came to the dangerous internal conflict, a conflict more serious than was ever waged within the nation. Our Civil War was fought for the very principle laid down in the initial line of the American Declaration of Independence. The negroes were freed, and there is no slave owner or descendant of a slave owner, who would look back at the black days of the past and have any change made in what was done in the days of the Civil War. May we not warn the League of Nations, the conferees in the Conference at Paris, not to make the mistake of having a mental reservation in bringing democracy to the world to the Irish people for fear that it may rise up to haunt them, as the mental reservation did the people of the United States; and that therefore there can be no real peace unless the Irish people as a nation are freed.
May I say a word or two further in conclusion. The claim of Ireland is the most conservative claim being made by any small nation in the world to-day; but these diplomats and statesmen and governments may not understand it; but I warn them now that, backed by the thought of America, itis the most conservative claim being made in the world to-day; and we are going to Paris, to ask them there to permit us to put a prop under civilisation. We are passing from the merely political and governmental democracies into the industrial State. This was not won by idlers and loafers. It was won by the producers of the world, it was won by the workers amongst human-kind on earth, and when I say that, I do not mean muscle workers alone, but all those who took part and helped to take part in the production that meets the needs of the human family and makes life worth living. If this book is now closed against any nation under the bond accepted by the nations and by America when she entered the war, Ireland may be compelled to take its place with the great part of Europe, and perhaps with the assistance of their brothers in the United States, to appeal, not to Governments, not to statesmen, not to diplomats, but to the common people of the world.
I say, my friends, that we are returning to Paris. We came with a direct mandate; we are not here to give direction. Thank God you have visualised to us that you have the direction. We are not here to give advice, because, thank God, you have been well advised by your own trusted leaders already; but we are here to ask our powerful Government to say to the other Governments of the world, that President de Valera, Count Plunkett and Arthur Griffith have been selected to represent the Government elected by an overwhelming majority of the Irish people; and to request that they be permitted, with all the dignity attached to that representation, to proceed to Paris, and there lay before the nations of the world the case of Ireland. I cannot believe that that request can be denied. I do not believe that England herself could face the world and say that this great people, diminished as they are, are held in bondage and imprisonment in Ireland, and that their leaders are not even permitted to go before the nations of the world to state in a conservative and ordered fashion their own case. Rather I believe that that will be granted, and that we will have nothing further to do than to go back to those that sent us, and give our report the greater part of which will be of this meeting of the Dáil of what we have learned to-day, and to say to them that the cause of Ireland has passed out of international politics by the recognition of the existing government in Ireland. As American citizens we will have nothing further to do except to wish for your prosperity, and in as serviceable a manner as possible to help materially as one nation dealing with another nation, helping it in the ordinary course of trade and commerce. Am I too optimistic in indulging the hope that this morning the God of Nations is smiling upon us, that the aspirations that fill your hearts are likewise ours, and that, thanks to our forbears for more than seven centuries, they are now about to come to a beautiful realisation.
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, and Members of the Irish Parliament, it is a very distinguished and most unique thing for men citizens of one nation to be accorded the dignity by another nation of sitting in and becoming a part of its legislative machinery. That distinguished honour has fallen to me for the first time in my life to-day, as I believe it has fallen to my colleagues. Why this honour should have been conferred on us is not due to our personality, but because of the mission in which we are engaged. I say we have been recognised and given this unique and distinguished honour by a different nation, which entitles us now by your resolve to sit on this platform, by reason of an invitation extended to us and to which we have responded by the President of a nation whose representatives have been duly elected according to the forms of even foreign law the law of force which prevails in this land. I believe that Ireland alone, amongst all the nations of the earth, is the only one, that, since the signature of the armistice on the 11th November of last year, has been able to take, under the forms and securities of law, a plebiscite as to the wishes of its people with reference to self-government. As I am informed, at that election, surrounded with all the forms and securities of British law, the question was clearly and fairly submitted to the people of this country, as to whether or not the men seeking election at that time, and who are now sitting here in this Parliament, were to be elected as representatives of an independent Republic. Now, as the result of that election, by nearly a three-fourths majority, the people of Ireland determined that they needed and would have a Republic, and that these men should be elected as representative of the republican idea.
An invitation has been extended officially to us to come from Paris to visit this nation, and the purpose of the visit is apparent and openly proclaimed. We come not to advise you, the people of Ireland, as to the form of government you should have. That fact has been accomplished. The nation has spoken and you have decided for a Republic. We come avowedly and it has been openly declared in Paris as well as here, and in America before we left to endeavour to secure a hearing of the Irish question before the League of Nations in Paris. We were informed before we came, and have been informed since coming here, that there were certain difficulties in the situation. We were told, that when the Irish people assembled for the purpose of declaring the Irish will, their meetings were proclaimed. We were told, that when the Irish representatives sought to publish the views of the Irish people in the papers, they were censored. We were told, that when the duly elected representatives of the people desired to act in the public interests, they were hauled off to jail; and we were told, that by reason of these facts it was very difficult for the voice of Ireland to be heard at the Paris Conference; and therefore, we Americans, who had entered into this war with certain aims and purposes, waited patiently for some time to hear the aims of our country declared at the Conference in Paris.
We entered the war, as has been pointed out by Mr. Walsh in his splendid and most eloquent address to you, to protect the rights of American citizens on land and sea, and to endeavour to prevent aggression and tyranny in the western hemisphere. We had not entered the war prior to 1917. On the contrary, it was well known throughout America that there was probably no man in the land more decidedly peaceful in his intention than President Wilson. It was the women of the West probably as much as anyone who helped to keep us out of the war; but when we did enter, the aims and objects of our country were declared by the great President of our country. Let me read a few statements of the objects and aims of America, as quoted from the President: "Political Independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike are the objects and aims of this war," declared President Wilson on the 8th January, 1918. "We have heard the demand and watched the struggle for self-government spread amongst many peoples," he declared the same day. "We have come to regard the right of political liberty as the common right of human kind," and again, in his address, he declared, "We are face to face with the necessity of ascertaining now the fundamental right of free men to make their own laws and choose their own allegiance." Again he states at Mount Vernon "It is your inestimable privilege to consort with men of every nation that shall make not alone the liberty of America secure, but the liberties of every other people in the world."
These being the declarations under which we entered the war, we in America waited patiently to hear the name of Ireland mentioned at the Peace Conference. There was no exception of Ireland in the statement made by the President. We waited for months, and then not hearing the call or voice of Ireland expressed, certain elements in the United States determined that steps should be taken; and so there assembled in the city that is called the cradle of the Republic the great city of Philadelphia on Washington's birthday, as great and representative a convention as has probably ever been seen in that great city. Over 5,000 delegates were present, representing every state and probably every territory, and the most conservative citizen and Churchman of the United States known throughout the length and breadth of the land as a loyal American citizen in the person of Cardinal Gibbons, moved a resolution. We avowedly stated our purpose when we left. In our application for passports, in every act we did, when our Chairman called on the President, when we all called on Colonel House and had interviews with him, we avowed that our object was to secure a hearing for the people of Ireland in their demand for self-government and a republican form of government.
We need not say to you that this is and has always been a nation. We need not, as some men do, deplore the fact that it is a long time since you had an independent government in being. We need not apply or speak of the Statute of Limitations because of 700 years of misgovernment. We can recall that the people of Greece and Rome had Turkish rule for many centuries, and yet the people of Greece are free to-day. We know that the people of Bohemia have been suffering under Austrian tyranny for 400 years, but are free to-day. We know that with the vigour and force and vitality shown in this struggle for 700 years, that the time will come, and that in the immediate future, when you will be entitled to secure your independence. The sympathy of every man and woman of Irish blood, or through whose veins runs the Celtic blood of Ireland, is behind you in this struggle. There was a time when there was a difference of opinion, but I never remember a time when Irish sentiment was so united and unanimous as it is at present. Not alone that, but there are millions of American citizens, who have no Irish blood coursing through their veins, but who love justice, liberty and right, and they are also behind us in our present mission. Our hopes are with you. I think perhaps I might put it more eloquently. Our hearts, our hopes are all with thee; our heart, our hopes, our prayers, our tears; our hopes triumphant over tears are all with thee.
Mr. President. Mr. Speaker, and Members of this Assembly. I almost hesitate to trespass upon you, and I know there is no need so to do, since you have listened to the splendid orations of my colleagues, and yet did I fail to speak. I would accuse myself for the rest of my days. I glory in the fact that I was Chairman of the Platform Resolutions Committee of the great Irish Race Convention, and that it was at my suggestion and on my motion that a Committee of twenty-five was constituted, from which the three men were sent who appear before you to-day. When urging that action I did not contemplate membership, but having asked others to do something, men stated that I should join and go, and so I am here to-day. I never was in Ireland, nor had I ever any hope of seeing it. So far as I knew, there were neither kith nor kin of mine within its confines, but for more than a generation, as some of you know, I have upheld the Irish Race, as I know it, in the United States, and have stood always for those who represent the majority of the people of Ireland; and today I range myself behind Sinn Fein, because, after the horrible tragedy of Easter Week, I see nothing else for the freedom of the motherland. I say to you and there will be no dissent from the statement that I speak with authority. I have been connected, and am still, with every organisation of an Irish character in America, and I say to the men who make up this Assembly, I say to this audience that may convey it through Ireland, that never in the history of the Irish people in America has there been such union as there is to-day in the stand I take myself and the stand of all the people, because we all feel the same.
I hardly know in which channel to set my small barque, but may I say to the men assembled here, that in my native city of Philadelphia assembled the first half dozen Congresses of the United States. When the Declaration of Independence was written the 56 men who made up that great representative body, the first Congress, were men, most of whom were like yourselves. It may be some consolation and encouragement to you to know this. Capital was absent from that Congress, wealth was absent from it. The men who made it up were denounced in the language applied to you, language even as I read in this morning's Dublin papers. John Handcock, the President, why he was an agitator. Amongst those who are honoured and reverenced to-day is the "hairbrained youth." These men had, according to the critics, neither stake nor interest in the community. They were "dreamers," but they met and they planned, they battled and they won. Turn to the files of America, and you will find that which is the story of every country where change is sought in conditions. Wealth is ever conservative. Stability goes hand in hand with resources. The men who have are not eager for the change. Those who possess will not undertake the risk. Revolutions are won by the ambitious and by the youth. Of the 56 men who made up the Declaration of Independence, two stand out conspicuously for possessing money; one George Washington, and the second Charles Carroll, said to be the richest man of the party; but all the rest were poor young fanatics and agitators they received the same kind of titles now bestowed on you, but Ireland will live to see the day when these titles become econiums.
May I remind you that New York never came into the possession of the contending forces. May I remind you that Philadelphia, then, and for years, the capital of the nation, with all its wealth, was Tory. Washington and his army of 12,000 lay out in the snow of Valley Forge, twenty miles away, keeping watch and ward for American freedom; but in the capital city of the nation lay entrenched the British Army, feasted and feted by fashion and money. The snows of Valley Forge melted and Washington emerged to take up again the battle. The French Minister, after the Declaration of Independence, wrote to his government, that not one-fourth of the people were in favour of the new Government, and that no one of wealth endorsed it. May I say that I have read your Declaration of Independence, which has also been treated with derision, as offering no policy of construction, as the dream of dreamers, and referred to as the hopes of idealists promising nothing. May I ask you to recall that it is recorded, that when the instrument, announcing that all Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, was read to the people of Philadelphia, it is recorded that it was listened to only by the rabble. It might prove even to some heartening to President de Valera if I recall that General Cornwallis afterwards, I think, in command in Ireland wrote to his Government, and spoke thus of him who became the first President of the Republic: "At last," he said, "I have the old fox in a trap" the old fox was General Washington. "He cannot last more than ten days longer"; and they had arranged where to transport him to, or to hang him right there; but the trap never clinched. We are told that Washington in that dark and terrible time wrote, "I cannot hold out here much longer; I must fly to the hills; unless new forces rally to me I cannot answer for the result"; and then new forces did rally to him, and what were the new forces, my friends? The new forces were contingents of Pennsylvanian troops known as the Pennsylvanian line; rather should they have been called the line of Ireland. They were made up of the refugees from Ireland; the victims of the autocratic woollen laws; the autocratic trade laws; the victims of that infamous legislation passed in the interests of England, and which in the eighteenth century began its infamy of the extermination of the Irish people. They fled to that new land.
You need not speak of gratitude to us. Somewhat bluntly I think, one of your members said we owed you a duty, We do; but it may be, that some of us might think that it would be better, if we told you that ourselves, rather than that we should be told it by you. We owed too a debt of gratitude to France, and by the way it was never remembered until a few years ago. We could not have been swarming in to pay a debt of gratitude to England, but France appealed to us; and yet our youth in our Catholic University of Washington discovered, that of the French troops that came to the United States under Lafayette, 2,900 of the 5,000 were the descendants, under Count Arthur Dillon the second in command under Rochambeau of the section of the Irish Brigade known as the "Wild Geese," who had fought at Cremona, Ramilies, and Fontenoy, and who must have made England feel that she has made a mistake in exiling her Irish people. We owe a debt to France, but we do also owe a debt to you. Two years before the Declaration of Independence was written, the great writer of the Revolution, Thomas Payne, had laid it down, that Europe and not England was the mother country of America, and he traced the great contribution made, particularly by Ireland. Ireland is no new proposition, to have it supported from America. In 1764 ten years or eleven before the Declaration the ninth before the first Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia Benjamin Franklin, as the agent for our Government, made a written plea to Ireland for help. Our Congress in 1778 made a plea to Ireland for help, and Oh! how I wish it had been adopted, as great trouble might have been saved, but it is no new proposition the union of America with Ireland in 1776, when men were hovering and we must remember that the most advanced and greatest antagonists in America were always of that mind; men hesitated to break the yoke, to go to the final test; and you may discover in Ireland, that some of those who have held back will press far and beyond you when the time comes to make the final struggle. God grant it. You have contributed to the making of our nation beyond any other people. You have been the instruments of our upbuilding. There is not an industry where your people have not been captains. There is no manufactory of any kind or character in the United States to-day but your kith and kin are there above any other people. You have made us strong, and to your credit be it said that ever and always you have been the upholders of the loftiest ideals of the Republic, willing to make any sacrifice, so that our government shall endure and endure in triumph. I know that we are anxious to pay the debt, and now the clouds have dissipated.
There is one idea running through the heart and soul and mind of Ireland, and if you will let me make a plea to you; not much is attained by the ugly word, not much is won by attack. I would try to rally about me all elements in Irish life, and solidify and unify the Irish nation. It is so easy to speer; it is so easy to speak of errors of the past. Turn your faces to the rising sun, and let him be regarded as an enemy to the cause who permits to fall from his lips, a word that would prevent an honest hand being taken in an honest hand-grasp by any man, through whose veins flows Irish blood. Let us remember that, Protestant or Catholic,one thought has run through England, and that has been, the extermination of our race. Was not Ireland crucified even by Catholic kings? Were not the Irish people battling for Ireland's liberty centuries before Martin Luther nailed his thesis on the church doors of Wittenburg? The infamous Castlereagh used religion in his policy, and matured and developed that policy when he divided our people into Irishmen worshipping God at this altar and Irishmen worshipping. Him at that; and induced them to slaughter each other in the name of the common God. Divide and rule, unite and win. Bring back the golden days of that Parliament when Grattan, Plunkett and Flood wrought for Irish redemption; men whose monuments in this capital city bear testimony to their energy and achievement; and the industries connected with these few years are but evidences of the possible accomplishments of Ireland. Let us bring back the days that Wolfe Tone sighed for and wrought for, the times of the United Irishmen, when, regardless of chapel, church, or grove, there will be union of sentiment. Try to put into the men of the North the same love for Ireland that once characterised them and made them the glory of Ireland; for the names of McCracken and Orr, and others are names to conjure with. We three men of America would say that our business associates and our intimates are men who do not go to the same Church with ourselves. I am President of a University in Philadelphia with thousands of students organised by the Baptists of Philadelphia. We in our city work for a common cause, regardless of where we worship; and Oh! this can be said that the Irish people never persecuted the cause of religion. The Huguenots, flying from France, found shelter in Ireland, and the Jew, when nowhere else could he find toleration, was permitted to erect his Ghetto in Ireland; for Catholic Ireland has never been polluted by the infamy of ostracism; and it is to our glory, that one who sprung from this soil, coming to America, first brought the doctrine of religious liberty that was to permeate the world.
Men and women be steadfast. In the long history of England's rule millions have died for Ireland, millions literally. In the eight years between 1844 and 1852 we are told your population fell by nearly three millions, but taking them all in all, I know of no deaths that have done so much for any people as those of the sixteen who were shot to death in Dublin in Easter Week. I took the hand of the widow of one of them yesterday, and I said I touched it in sorrow and in joy sorrow at the personal loss of seeing snatched away in the prime of life the life companion joy that the death was so glorious. You men have pledged yourselves to follow in their footsteps, and most of you are as eager as they to die. You will tread your way of the Cross; you will march through your Garden of Gethsemani; the crown of thorns will be placed on Ireland's brow; there will be a Calvary; but the stone will be rolled away on an Easter morning. Most of as believe in the doctrine of the communion of saints. Could we but tear away this ceiling above us and discard these eyes of the flesh and see with the sight of the spirit, and in holy vision pierce the clouds beyond the stars up into the Heavens, I am sure that our hearts would be gladdened, because, wafting benedictions from its battlements would be the dead of Ireland; the dead who died on the scaffold and in the dungeon; the dead who died on hill and on plain; the dead who died at home and in exile; the dead whose bones pave the floor of the Atlantic; the dead who lie by the Pacific shores or in the Australian bush; the dead who died for Ireland would be found there wafting benedictions, and I believe we would hear their spirits exhorting us to keep up the fight and push on to victory.