EARLY INDEPENDENCE CAMPAIGNING - WOLFE TONE
WHAT: Consider the aims and methods of the early campaigners for independence (United Irishmen and the Wolf Tone Rebellion, consider the reaction of the British government to the rebellion.
The Society of United Irishmen, founded in 1791, embraced Catholics, Protestants and Dissenters in its aim to remove English control from Irish affairs. Their bloody rebellion of 1798, however, resulted in the 1801 Act of Union, which brought Ireland tighter still under British control. Professor Thomas Bartlett tells their story.
Using the following BBC article research the following:
- the causes of the formation of the United Irishmen?
- the aims, methods and outcomes of the United Irishmen and the failed rebellion of 1798?
- The reaction of the government of Britain to the failed rebellion?
- How significant a figure was Wolf Tone to Irish independence?
The Television History of Ireland - Section on Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen and the Rebellion of 1798 to the Act of Union 1801.
Paper 1 practice - the court martial of wolf tone:
Answer the following questions using the court martial record of Wolf Tone, in the style of Paper 1:
1. What does Wolf Tone tell us about the nature of the Irish Rebellion?
The members of the Court having been sworn, the Judge Advocate called on the prisoner to plead guilty or not guilty to the charge of having acted traitorously and hostilely against the King.
TONE REPLIED: "I mean not to give the court any useless trouble, and wish to spare them the idle task of examining witnesses. I admit all the facts alleged, and only request leave to read an address which I have prepared for this occasion."
COLONEL DALY: "I must warn the prisoner that, in acknowledging those facts, he admits, to his prejudice, that he has acted traitorously against his Majesty. Is such his intention?"
TONE: "Stripping this charge of the technicality of its terms, it means, I presume, by the word traitorously, that I have been found in arms against the soldiers of the King in my native country. I admit this accusation in its most extended sense, and request again to explain to the court the reasons and motives of my conduct."
The court then observed they would hear his address, provided he kept himself within the bounds of moderation.
Tone rose, and began in these words:
"Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Court-Martial, I mean not to give you the trouble of bringing judicial proof to convict me legally of having acted in hostility to the government of his Britannic Majesty in Ireland. I admit the fact. From my earliest youth I have regarded the connection between Great Britain and Ireland as the curse of the Irish nation, and felt convinced that, whilst it lasted, this country could never be free nor happy. My mind has been confirmed in this opinion by the experience of every succeeding year, and the conclusions which I have drawn from every fact before my eyes. In consequence, I was determined to employ all the powers which my individual efforts could move, in order to separate the two countries. That Ireland was not able of herself to throw off the yoke, I knew; I therefore sought for aid wherever it was to be found. In honourable poverty I rejected offers which, to a man in my circumstances, might be considered highly advantageous. I remained faithful to what I thought the cause of my country, and sought in the French Republic an ally to rescue three millions of my countrymen from—"
The President wound up by calling on the prisoner to hesitate before proceeding further in the same strain.
TONE THEN CONTINUED: "I believe there is nothing in what remains for me to say which can give any offence; I mean to express my feelings and gratitude towards the Catholic body, in whose cause I was engaged."
PRESIDENT: "That seems to have nothing to say to the charge against you, to which you are only to speak. If you have anything to offer in defence or extenuation of the charge, the court will hear you, but they beg you will confine yourself to that subject."
TONE: "I shall, then, confine myself to some points relative to my connection with the French army. Attached to no party in the French Republic—without interest, without money, without intrigue—the openness and integrity of my views raised me to a high and confidential rank in its armies. I obtained the confidence of the Executive Directory, the approbation of my generals, and I will venture to add, the esteem and affection of my brave comrades. When I review these circumstances, I feel a secret and internal consolation which no reverse of fortune, no sentence in the power of this court to inflict, can deprive me of, or weaken in any degree. Under the flag of the French Republic I originally engaged with a view to save and liberate my own country. For that purpose I have encountered the chances of war amongst strangers; for that purpose I repeatedly braved the terrors of the ocean, covered, as I knew it to be, with the triumphant fleets of that power which it was my glory and my duty to oppose.
GENERAL LOFTUS: "In these papers you are designated as serving in the army of England."
TONE: "I did serve in that army, when it was commanded by Buonaparte, by Dessaix, and by Kilmaine, who is, as I am, an Irishman; but I have also served elsewhere."
"I have laboured to abolish the infernal spirit of religious persecution, by uniting the Catholics and Dissenters. To the former I owe more than ever can be repaid. The service I was so fortunate as to render them they rewarded munificently; but they did more: when the public cry was raised against me—when the friends of my youth swarmed off and left me alone—the Catholics did not desert me; they had the virtue even to sacrifice their own interests to a rigid principle of honour; they refused, though strongly urged, to disgrace a man who, whatever his conduct towards the Government might have been, had faithfully and conscientiously discharged his duty towards them; and in so doing, though it was in my own case, I will say they showed an instance of public virtue of which I know not whether there exists another example."
Structure and powers of the Irish Parliament
Parliament of Ireland - Wikipedia
The Parliament of Ireland was the legislature of the Lordship of Ireland, and later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1297 until 1800. It was modelled on the Parliament of England and from 1537 comprised two chambers: the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
The development of early Irish Nationalism
Irish Nationality: Alice Stopford Green
Irish Nationality, by Alice Stopford Green, 1911