tv U.S.- Irish Relations Since the American Revolution CSPAN November 26, 2019 9:57am-11:28am EST
revolutions and the relationship between the two countries ever since. the museum of the american revolution in philadelphia hosted this event in conjunction with their first international loan exhibition. cost of revolution, the life and death of an irish soldier. his ancestor, richard st. george is the exhibit's subject. welcome all. i'm scott stevenson, the president and ceo of the museum of the american revolution. thank you very much. i always start this way. how many of you are visiting the museum for the first time this evening? i love that the proportion of hands is getting lower and lower as we move on. as you know we opened just a little over two years ago here at third and chestnut streets in philadelphia. just two blocks from
independence hall. the mission of the museum is to uncover and share compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that started america's ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government. and for those of you who have been to the museum, been to our 16,000 square foot of core exhibition, shares all these incredible stories of the making of the united states of america and also starts to explore the ongoing legacies of that revolution, both here in america and around the world. you've seen george washington's remarkable war tent, the home away from home where our first commander in chief lived and experienced some of the lowest and highest moments of the american revolution. it's a great place to visit. we're glad to be able to bring you here tonight for this wonderful evening, exploring
connections between ireland and the american revolution through a conversation with the ambassador. this coincides with the opening of our first international loan exhibition called cost of revolution, the life and death of an irish soldier, which is brought together almost 100 works of art and objects from four countries, from 40 lenders. not only exploring just through the life of an individual man born in ireland in the 1750s whose life spans the age of revolutions and connects the 1776 revolution in this neighborhood here in philadelphia with ireland's revolution of 1798. and then as we'll begin to discuss this evening, those are revolutions that are ongoing. they continue to ripple around the world. it's worth reminding ourselves, also, we're just a block from robert bell's book shop. the press that first issued
those words written by an english immigrant, thomas payne in january of 1776 and the pamphlet commonsense. we have it in our power to begin the world over again. so for our cspan audience this evening, you can learn a lot about the museum, about the exhibition through our website, which is amrevmuseum.org. you learn about the special programming and how to visit the museum here. i'd like to quickly recognize our lead sponsors for the cost of revolution exhibit, john and casey harvey. the irish georgian society, and the irish government through its immigrant support program that allowed us to bring these objects together for the first time in exhibition. it will only appear here at the museum of the american revolution. it will run through st. patrick's day next year, 2020.
you can see their names on the title slide, they have been working with us for months. they're here this evening, the governor, our honorary chair, state representative mike driscoll who was keen we were able to bring the irish community here together in philadelphia here to the museum to experience this evening, experience the exhibition. we have the honorable jimmy lynn, where are you? oh, in the back. i'm going to call on you later, by the way. joseph mars, irish american business chamber and network. ed mcbride from pekoe who was able to bring the lovely music here. charles hopkins, i know he's out there as well. and last but certainly not least kathleen sullivan who kept us all in line and on task and on target, right? so please help me in thanking all of them.
my main role is to do two things. my first is to encourage you to silence your cell phones, and then to introduce our moderator for this evening, my good friend craig snyder, the president and ceo of the world affairs council here in philadelphia. craig's a local boy originally. began his career actually at the council 30 years ago. but then left to pursue a career in politics along the way. was a candidate for the united states congress. was chief of staff for a pennsylvania senator, the late arln spe arlen specter. in december of 2012 came back to his hometown to take the helm of the world affairs council. it's been gratifying to have a growing partnership with the world affairs council. of course, the museum of the american revolution and the vision for this organization is to insure that the promise of
the american revolution endures. that makes sure this is a place that's not just telling a story set long ago in the past, but sees the american revolution as an ongoing experience. so our partnership with world affairs council has been wonderful to tie a lot of these themes that go back to the founding of the nation but then continue to resonate across the nation and around the world. so please join me in welcoming craig snyder. [ applause ] >> thanks very much, scott. let me agree that the partnership between the museum and the royal affairs council of philadelphia is a wonderful addition to civic philadelphia. i have the pleasure this evening of introducing and then a bit later engaging in conversation with our honored speakers for this evening. i'm going to introduce them both to you at the same time.
first, we will have a presentation by ambassador daniel mullhall, the ambassador of ireland. he served as the secretariat for the forum of peace and reconciliation at the time of the good friday agreement. he'll be discussing the influence of the american revolution and the irish revolution of 1798 on ireland's path to independence and the relevance of those revolutions today. second, we'll have a presentation by dr. martin manser, a historian and former irish political and diplomatic figure who helped negotiate the good friday agreement. he's the vice chair of the expert advisory group of centenniary commemorations and is a descendant of richard st. george, the subject of the museum's special exhibition, the cost of revolution.
so bringing the personal and the scholarly together. so with that, the ambassador will make his remarks, then dr. manser, and then we'll engage in conversation. mr. ambassador, please. >> first of all -- [ inaudible ] on a beautiful summer evening. you might find it difficult in ireland to get a crowd like this on this kind of evening. people might feel they should be doing something out of doors, rather than being in a museum. i want to also say i'm bowled over by the museum here. the museums are getting better and better in my experience. this one is really one of the best i've ever seen anywhere. we just open a new museum in ireland, it's called molly.
it's books on the work of james joyce and the irish literary tradition. it's wonderful to come here today and to see the whole history of the revolution is projected downstablirs and theno come up here and visit the exhibition, the cost of revolution focusing on the life of richard st. george and the era in which he lived. so i want to congratulate everyone that's connected with the museum of the american revolution for a fantastic achievement of putting this museum together and bringing these wonderful -- bringing the history of that vital period -- world history -- to life. i'm very impressed bide it and i wish you all the very best with the development of this museum in the years ahead. i'm here with martin manser. i started my diplomatic career
in 1978. i know i don't look that old, but i am. we shared a room in dublin with a couple other colleagues. it's good to be back with him again here in philadelphia on this wonderful evening. we think back on the history of the america and the impact america's had on ireland. just to i'm a historian, but not a professional historian. i'm an amateur, but an enthusiastic amateur historian. i have written a few books on irish history. i have a blog, which you can get through my twitter account where i l i blog on irish history. it's easier to do that than politics. my most recent historical
venture was to attend the naming of the new park in washington, d.c. devoted to the memory of robert emmett is a person from this very era who was executed after a short and unsuccessful rebellion in 1803. but whose memory became a kind of icon for irish americans as a sort of sacrificial victim in the cause of irish freedom. so i'm not a professional historian, but that allows me to do an irish history 101. i go back to the 12th century but i'll get to the 18th century in 30 seconds. 101 is that the normans first invaded ireland in the 12th century. 1169. if i could just mark the history
of the northern invasion of ireland. and then the established themselves in ireland and they wanted to make sure they didn't get too independent in their thinking came across and established himself as the king of ireland. of course, it took centuries for that kingship to become effective throughout the whole length and breadth of ireland. fast forward to the 17th century. which was a disaster for irish, for the irish, for the native irish aristocracy. they were defeated, both at the beginning of the century at the battle of kinsale when support for the irish chieftains failed to bring success and those chieftains left ireland in the early 17th century and their descendants are scattered all over europe.
they fought in the catholic armies of europe in the 17th, 18th, 19th centuries and many became distinguished figures in their adopted homelands. the battle of the boyne saw the defeat of the catholic irish and again an exodus of people from that generation left ireland, really never to return. so the 18th century in ireland, which is the one we're focusing on with richard st. george, you know, you can look at it from two angles. on the one hand you could say wasn't it an amazing century for ireland? think about it. jonathan swift. berkeley. edwin burke, sheridan, whose plays are still performed on the stage. i could go on. a gre
and if you go to ireland today you'll see all the great public buildings, the great houses, country chateaux from that period are an expression of the success of the anglo irish. these were people of english or british descent who became the ruling class in ireland. however, if you look at it from another angle, you look at it from the angle of the irish peasant or even the irish catholic in the 18th century, irish catholics were faced with the disabilities imposed on them by the penal laws, which prevented catholics from having -- from doing a lot of things. over the period of time, throughout the 18th century, the
penal laws were relaxed somewhat. still, ireland was completely dominated by a relatively small percentage of the population who were the ruling class. i have to confess, this was not unique. everywhere in europe people who didn't belong to the ruling class had pretty miserable lives. if you were a central european peasant, even a person of more means in the 17th century during the 30 years war, tfls no picnic, i can tell you. so not that ireland was uniquely oppressed, but there was a bit of a difference in ireland in the sense that there was a religious distance between the ruling class who were essentially protestant, church of ireland members, and the majority of the population who were catholic in religion. that religious difference became
a deciding -- a dividing line in ireland that has really plagued us for the last several centuries. so in any century in all that great tradition of gaelic civilization went into deadline in the 18th century. and you have this catholic/protestant divide, ruling class being protestant and the bottom of the population being catholic. of course, the best example of this would be daniel cohen historicohen's family. brought about the first great reform in the parliament. his family was very well to do merchants in kerry. but that required a certain amount of keeping your head down, not attracting any
negative attention from the authorities and basically, you know, playing the game successfully and they weren't the only ones who achieved that kind of status. they were able to hang on to some of their wealth and their lands and their privileges as part of the catholic majority, which otherwise suffered badly during the course of the 18th century. so most irish people, if you asked an irish person give me a significant event in the 18th century, i'd say hardly a single irish person would name an event in the first 80 years in that century. not that nothing happened, but there's no memory of anything significant in that period. it's seen as kind of the low point for irish identity if you
like. the first date they might mention if they were reasonably well-informed would be 1782. 1782 was what? six years after the american revolution, the american declaration of independence. and what happened in ireland after the american declaration was interesting. because downstairs, you can see actually a copy of the american declaration published in an irish newspaper in the leicester leader i think it was about only a few months after the declaration was issued here in philadelphia. very quickly, the declaration started to have an effect on the thinking in ireland. now its effect was largely on those people who were better
educated, more prosperous, who could read first of all and were subscribers to the paper. it had a special effect in ulster, where there were lots of family connections between ulster presbyterians and the settlements here in north america. that generated a form of colonial nationalism. in 1782, the irish parliament managed to assert itself and acquire additional powers. it wasn't independent by any means, but it certainly -- it extracted additional powers and responsibilities from a reluctant british parliament in london. and that set off what i would call a decade of colonial nationi nationali nationalism. that gradually developed a form
of republ of republicanism. especially after the french relutir revolution in 1789. it gave rise to the society of the united irishmen. they're the ones who nine years after the french revolution finally managed to engineer an uprising in ireland which was unsuccessful, but successful. it was both a failure and a success. it was a failure because it didn't achieve the outcome that they wanted, which was independence for ireland. and what was idealistically referred to as a bringing together of catholics, protestants, and dissenters. that failed miserably. but the republican ideal, although the revolution was crushed, principleal principall
the difference between america and ireland. that difference was distance. it wasn't that there wasn't enough irish people that could have rebelled. the population around that time was higher -- or at least comparable to the population of the colonies on the east coast of america. but ireland was very close to britain. therefore, the rebellion was put down with considerable in 1798 crushed with great severity by lord cornwallis. he didn't have great endings in america but he became the great restorer of order in ireland in the wake of the 1798 rebellion. after that you had the active union which was brought about by the fear that the british government had at the time that somehow ireland would continue to be a source of difficulty
because revolutionary france, which was then fighting the napoleonic wars would eventually find a way of using ireland to undermine the british war effort. so ireland became an important security backstop if i may use a word that's used these days in a different context. and so the act of union was passed. the history of ireland after that is all about the active union and the attempt to reverse the active union and to some fo political independence for ireland. 19th century irish history is the story of the union and successive attempts to undermine the union and to reverse what happened in 1800 in the wake of the 1798 rebellion. the memory of 1798 was kept
alive in ireland, really, throughout the 19th century mainly through the writings of people who spent a bit of time in america. didn't much care for america when he came here, but he -- his widow came here eventually. his writings became very powerful in passing on that tradition of irish republic sentiment that went on throughout the 19th century. 19th century ireland was characterizes by attempts to use the parliament in britain, to use the irish membership of that parliament in order to repeal the act of the union which was the effort made in the 1840s or to bring about home rule, which was promoted by george parnel whose mother was an american and spent time in america.
he was the great champion of irish home rule until he fell from grace as a result of a divorce scandal, which brought him down in 1890. he died in 1891 tragically. he appears frequently in the works of james joyce. he's everywhere to be seen. his memory is there constantly as a presence. the big game changer for ireland and irish america was the famine of the 1840s. there was a significant body of irish immigrants in america in the 18th century and the first four decades of the 19th century. significant numbers came and established themselves in america. not just people from northern ireland who -- many of who came, presbyterians who came over here
because they felt it was a religious affinity of what was going on in this part of the world. many catholic irish came looking for opportunities to better their lives. it was after the great famine the whole thing changed dramatically. you had a huge outflow of people from ireland. probably four million people arrived in north america between 1845 and 1900. and that is the basis of today's irish american diaspora. i've had a privilege of meeting all over this great country. they're everywhere, not just philadelphia, boston, new york, everywhere. charleston, savannah, you name it, they're there. and that of course also changed irish political realities. suddenly the irish in their struggle for importance were not
alone. because they had a great community of people around the world, especially in north america. who supported the irish cause and supported irish efforts to secure independence for our country. president higgens, when he spoke at fordham university on monday in new york, he quoted an editorial in the times of london in 1860. the times of london, 12 years before during the famine was saying things like, well the irish had it coming to them. you know, the famine was a visitation from god to punish these indolent people. by 1860 the times had changed its tune. an amazing editorial that talks about we now must realize we have the irish nation has moved
from its old confines, moved across to the greatest country in the world and is going to cause us no end of trouble in the future because they will want to replay the battles of the past. but they will do so from the most -- they're going to spread, he said from boston and philadelphia, new york, right across to san francisco. weren't they right? it is true. there are those that argue the flame of irish independence was kept alive here in the united states in the second half of the 19th century. any irish mover who wanted support, support was available in large quantities here in the united states. give you one example. douglas hyde, the first president of the gaelic league set up in 1893 to revive the irish language.
came here in 1905. spent seven months and visited 55 american cities. and he brought home what in those days was a king's ransom of 12,000 pounds. huge amount of money, all collected at speeches he gave all over the united states, including here in philadelphia. there were times when he was able to speak in irish. there were enough of people in the audience who came from the gaelic speaking areas in irish. he wrote a book in irish, in gaelic, but it's being republished in the next few months. it records his trip he made to america. he was one of many. if you had an irish cause to promote, the place to do it was america. it was americans who were responsible for maintaining the flame of the notion of irish independence throughout the second half of the 19th century.
they try to invade canada. i visited the normal memorial i buffalo and you could see across the niagara river with 1,000 travelled across in an effort to conquer canada and barter canada for irish freedom. it was a noble endeavor, even if it didn't work as well as they had hoped. it was the irish in new york that sent thomas clarke back to ireland in 1908. he had spent 20 years in prison for his involvement in the movement in his early years and was sent back. he moved to america and settled in philadelphia if i'm not mistaken, somewhere in this area, and clarke was sent back with money to try to organize a
rebelli rebellion. he was probably the main organizer of the easter uprising in 1916. you can see a direct line between the american evolution in the 19th cinentury as a republic and the irish that arrived here becoming the part of the farm burebric of the 19t century. in the beginning they became integral in the fabric of american public life, while at the same time maintaining this passion to reverse the injustices they saw as having been inflicted on their homeland and the homeland of their ancestors. so this irish american tradition, which doesn't exist in every country that has immigrant populations here in the united states. in the irish case it existed very strongly. it's continued to this present day really.
and if you think about the role that irish americans played in the peace process in northern island, for example -- they played a role which was seen negatively in ireland in funding some of the activities of the i.r.a. in the end, people like tip o'neil and others and ted kennedy brought around irish america to become advocates of a peaceful settlement to the problems of northern ireland. and today in the year of brexit, we still have so many irish americans who have our back and are concerned -- i spent last night out at the irish center here in philadelphia. 200 people turned up to hear myself and congress brendan boyle talk about the implications of brexit for ireland. i don't want anyone to take sides in this. we simply want our friends in america to recognize the need to
insure that if brexit is to happen it doesn't happen at the expense of peace in ireland. huge american input and influence over the last 30 years. the final point i want to make is that i give lecture earlier this year at the university of virginia in the rotunda room which was designed by thomas jefferson and where he had a meal shortly before his death with the marquis de lafayette. i gave that lecture on declaring independence. america 1776, ireland 1919. our declaration of independence, which is not as well known as the american one. the american one is a document of global renown. but i made the point that interestingly, the american
revolution produced a republic experiment, which was pretty much unparalleled in human history. claim some precedence perhaps in the ancient world. but in the modern world it was for the first time a republic had been established. the countries that became independent in europe during the 19ths century, none of them declared a republic. not a single one. but ireland went down the republican road in 1916 first of all and then later on in 1919 and eventually became an independent country in 1922 and then we declared a republic in 1949. so the republic ethos which didn't really take root in most parts of europe -- most parts of europe when countries became independent -- think about the
countries of the balkans. they found a prince of some kind who could become their king. the tir the irishda didn't do that. we didn't in 1916 decide to proclaim the kingdom of ireland with a german french to head up thebrasi operation. the american example, i'm convinced was a powerful one in ireland. because of the influence of irish americans, that they passed on, they passed back to ireland, combined with the united irishmen's tradition, they passed on a kind of an ethos of republicanism. to this very day, ireland is a genuine republic. right? other companies have imperial republics where they're full of pomp and splendor. in the irish case, we take republican ideals seriously, indeed. and most of my colleagues in the
foreign service -- in europe they're full of people with names that are drawn from old titles of the old european aristocra aristocracy. now of course, there are many monarchies in europe. in the irish case, most of my colleagues in the foreign ministry are people from ordinary backgrounds like my own. i was the first member of my family ever to go to university. many of my colleagues that i joined the service with and are now retiring came from exactly the same background. we came from modest backgrounds. backgrounds which were not propertied or landed or privileged. because the republic ethos is taken seriously in ireland. that's the case in the present day. final point i want to make is that our country decided to go for a seat in security council
in 2021, 22 and the vote is next year and we're campaigning. we have lots of arguments. but our number one argument is that we're more like most countries in the world than the countries in europe are. we have in our dna an understanding for the plight of countries around the world who followed our path to independence. we were the first country to break away from a successful empire 100 years ago. that was the path that most of the countries of today's world it to follow during the course of that troubled 20th century. thank you very much for your attention.
>> ambassador, president and ceo, trustees, governor, member of the honorary committee, exhibition curator, cousins, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. it is a great privilege to be staying in the city of philadelphia, where as you know the continental congress met. the declaration of independence was drawn up, where the constitution of the united states was agreed, and the city which was the usa's temporary capital in its first ten years during the presidency of george washington. this museum commemorates all those achievements, elements of which provided an important model for other countries, including ireland both then and
since. it's also about the many uphill struggles and hardships of the war of independence which gave effect to the politics. as the final panel of the permanent exhibition upstairs, quoting thomas jefferson in 1826, his last year, states the declaration of independence was a signal to arouse others to assume the blessings and security of self-government. it's an honor to share a conversation on the relationship between the american revolution and the republic of ireland with his excellency, the irish ambassador to the united states. may i compliment him on his splendid speech. we once worked together in the same office in the economic department of foreign affairs and have occasionally share a
platform since, notably in camden in 2016 after the brexit referendum when he was the irish ambassador in london. both historically and now, the relationship with the united states is of supreme importance to ireland. the united states is rightly proud not only to the irish contribution to its own development but also its own crucial role in helping to get the good friday agreement, the peace process over the line in the 1990s and keeping it there so far anyway, since. the reason i'm here tonight is however, more personal. in that i'm distantly related across two centuries to the subject of the exhibition. cost of revolution, the life and death of an irish soldier, richard st. george. a witness in art and writing, but also a troubled figure on the margins of a revolutionary
period that began in america, climaxed in france, and ended in the tragedy of the 1798 rebellion in ireland. there is generally a human cost to revolution, even the most justified one. both at the time as well as later in unrevolvsolved parts os relevancy. i have been the vice chair, marking the progression in ireland from home rule legislation introduced in 1912 that was passed and suspended in 1914 through the first world war to the 1916 rising. followed by a struggle for independence from 1919 to '21. then a split over a treaty
leading to civil war and then the formation of northern ireland as a devolved region of the uk and the admission of the irish free state to the league of nations in 1923. this was the most formative period in modern irish history. the approach is to deepen our understanding and to insure that pride and enthusiasm where appropriate are tempered by an appreciation of the hard realities and the cost of conflict. that is very much the spirit of the museum's exhibition here. it has to be borne in mind that even after the good friday agreement of 1998 ireland remains a divided ireland that still bears the scars of the more recent northern ireland conflict. as the mission statement from the second phase of the decade of centenniaries from 1917 to
1923 states, quote, the aim of commemoration should be to broaden sympathies without having to abandon loyalties. and in particular to recognize the value of ideas and sacrifices including their cost. for some, the events of the past, the mission statement goes on may revive painful memories of loss or dispossession. the goal of inclusiveness may be best achieved by encouraging multiple and plural commemorations rather than trying to impose one view. in ireland we have a common history but not a common memory. so far commemorations have been conducted harmoniously with tolerance and understanding, but there are many challenging memories to be encountered in the remaining four years. and where possible, we should strive to transcend the divisions of the past.
ireland was a colony before and after america. formally for many centuries a subordinate kingdom that was annexed to england. plantations were started in ireland, not always with success in the 16th and early 17th centuries. and this led to prolonged conflict with the older established population, ending in not just plantation, but transplantation and complete conquest by the early 1690s. a virtual monopoly of power, wealth and position was put in the hands of a british backed elite strictly defined by their established protestant religion and in a small minority except in parts of ulster. something that would become more and more anomalous with the age of revolution. both the rank injustice of sectarian minority rule and the longer term consequences explain
why no one in the uk outside of unionists in northern ireland speak anymore of the glorious revolution of 1689, which brought william and mary to the throne. that in fact was a revolution from above. as was what was termed in france at the time the revolution of 1771 on which i wrote my doctoral thesis. this is when l they had the right to rem straight against and hold up laws without having a final veto. the recovery of power in sweden from the diet in 1772 with french support, which saved it from poland's fate was also called a revolution.
america completely altered the meaning of the term. north america in the 18th century seemed to be the future. irish born anglican and a pioneer of higher education in america, bishop barkley wrote in a poem westward the course of empire takes its way. times noblests offering is its last. colonists were looking for a better life and looking to enjoy the safe rights of citizens they or their family enjoyed in england. whether in ireland, london insisted on the final say. from an irish perspective the american revolution lit a long fuse which ultimately led to an
independent ireland, today's republic covering over three quarters of the island. many from ireland, especially of an ulster presbyterian background that was not part of the protestant descendancy contribute today the american cause. including the secretary to the continental congress in philadelphia, born near derry. another example a little later in the war of 1812 was admiral charles stewart, grandfather of the late 19th century irish parliamentary leader charles stewart parnel, and i think his ship, the uss constitution is still to be seen in boston harbor. british opinion was divided
about the wisdom of fighting the american colonists. the great irish born oritor gave a speech on conciliation with america. logic that would apply in ireland in 1919. and i quote. the use of force alone is but temporary. it may subdue for a moment, but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again and a nation is not governed which is perpetially to be conquered. it led to the beginning of a relaxation of the penal laws against catholics and commercial restrictions on ireland. and then following the entry of france and spain on the side of america to the formation of volunteers and exploitation of the weakness of the british government to extract
legislative independence for the irish parliament in 1782 which was a sovereign parliament. some of the irish identified with the american colonists in revolt. lafayette on a home visit to france in 1779 looked about the possibility of a dissent on ireland. the subject of the exhibition excellently researched and present presented, was a young irish landowner originally with a surname of manser. in his early 20s, reflecting on his inheritance, he changed his final surname to st. george. in his college days in cambridge he contributed a number of printed drawings.
his principle target being unfrenchified manners. in 1776 he eagerly joined the army to fight in america. and just before he went, he was painted in uniform by gainsborough. all these paintings you can see in the exhibition there. he had conventional upper class political views and was always distinctly anti-french. he was involved in the philadelphia campaign in the early autumn of 1777. apart from fighting, he sketched and left vivid written descriptions of the battles of brandywine, and later commissioning composite battle paintings from an italian artist to whom he gave detailed instructions. it was this time -- it was at this time he received a serious head wound which he carried for the rest of his life and altered
his personality. while the american revolution today would be generally regarded as one of the cleanest wars in history, a close up view shows the hardship an unpleasantness of war. leaving benjamin franklin to write when it was nearly over there has never been or ever will be any such thing as a good war or a bad peace. wars of independence easily turn into civil wars. the irish often found themselves on both sides in european wars, in the american war of independence and the american civil war. and this was also true at home. when we were commemorating the bicentenniary of the 1791 rebellion. our speaker at the house of representatives enjoined on my when i was speaking in public not to mention the militia. which like the north cork one was at the cutting edge of
british forces putting down the rebellion. the irish war of independence pitted the i.r.a. against the initially mostly native born people. seeing them just as the enemy does not in many instances do them adequate justice. the american war of independence was a war that was studied closely by some of those involved in the irish war of independence. a kerry leader in america in 1922 to put the anti-treaty case, austin stack, was photographed on a visit to valley forge. i followed in his footsteps on sunday. valley forge so valley forge saw the regeneration of the continental army. while there were no battles, the casualties from disease were high. just before the truce in
june 1921, the guerilla leader, michael collins, wrote with ideas to intensifying the war. by increasing attacks on the property of loyalists as opposed to their lives, drawing on a pr proclamation devicsed by franklin. afterwards the difficulty in both countries was to persuade those who had been involved in fighting to get reaccustomed to the rule of law. one of the problems that the founding fathers faced in devising their constitution, which is relevant to ireland and northern ireland, is the relationship between majority and minority so that neither majority more minority are oppressed. as alexander hamilton noted in 1787, give all power to the many, they will oppress oppress.
give all power to the few, they will oppress the many. the federalists, which himself and james madison were mostly responsible for had two answers to this problem. the entrenchment of rights and the creation of a multiplicity of interests. one should not assume that the early politics at the american republic was filled with the competition of people who were always high-minded. on the contrary, it has been described as the golden age of literary assassination. vidal's closely researched novel burr, about aaron burr, the serving vice president whose dual with alexander hamilton in 1804 which led to the latter's premature death, refers to jefferson's sedition act which
hamilton explained, and i quote, had only been aimed at what jefferson liked to refer to as false facts. the french revolution was initially inspired by the american one, which french intervention helped to victory. jefferson u.s. ambassador to france 1784 to '9 certainly target to tar jay, lawyer and national member when tar jay was drafting the declarations of the rights of man and citizen. the formation of the society of the united irishmen was con received in the initially remainly reformist spirit of the early french revolution. however, the reign of terror and popular fury gave weapons into the hands of the enemies of democracy for another century. the 1798 united irish rebellion
in ireland supported by france resulted in a blood bath at the incorporation of ireland into a union with great britain intended to provide an insoup rabble bulwark against an irish democracy with its own representative parliament. richard george was a zealous defender of the existing order and did not take kindly to being warned in 1794 by an insubordinate army left tenant supposedly left protecting him, i quote, kings are but names. the people are the state. attempting to repress the defenders, he was assassinated along with his agent in february of 1798 three months before the rebellion broke out. today he would be seen in the words of this museum's tyler putnam in the philadelphia inquirer as, quote, on the wrong
side of two different revolutions, but then he was seen by the irish establishment at the time as a tragic victim, albeit one who perhaps had acted wildly and imprudently. on his last evening a few hours before he was murdered or assassinated, st. george had dinner with a neighboring landlord who went out with soldiers the following morning after he received news. his wife, margaret, however, had been educated by the feminist as her governess mary wallstern craft, author of a response to tom pain's the rights of main called vindication of the rights of woman. and a few weeks later, lady
marcashal would hide in the cellar at moore park in north court, lord edward fitzgerald designated leader of the 1798 rebellion as he was being sought by the authorities. and when the army called, they'd clearly received some kind of tip off. lord edward fitzgerald was hid in the cellar and she simply said to the army visitor, you know, this is preposterous, but then offered them copious quantities of wine and food, and by the time they left, they had forgotten all about their original mission. there were progressive and radical members of the ruling class as well as conservatives and reactionaries. the advocates of women's rights in france male and female, mostly perished on the guillotine, and it was another century, at least, before serious headway on that issue began to be made.
many of the united irishmen were to take to america including wolf tones widow matilda who with their son performed an immense service in publishing his memoirs and diary. wolf tone who enlisted french help and who committed suicide underwent sentence of death in 1798, and that's remembered out there, famously defined uniting the whole people of ireland and substituting in place a protestant catholic center the common name of irishman as the means of asserting ireland's independence from britain. it did not work out that way. as we have heard, robert emmitt led another unsuccessful rebellion in 1803 and in his famous trial speech looked for vindication. when my country takes her place among the nations of the world. and curiously that defining phrase echoes the opening at the american declaration of
independence, which speaks of assuming among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's god entitle them. robert's elder brother emigrated to america where he became attorney general of new york. and in 1798, he justified to a secret committee of the irish parliament in prophetic terms, the economic case for independence, and i quote. america is the best market in the world, and ireland the best situated country in europe to trade with that market. i once quoted that to a u.s. commerce secretary, and he said far seeing man mr. emmitt. one of the united irishmen,
outside paul's church in lower manhattan, wrote one of the earliest memoirs of the 1798 rebellion and sent a copy to president jefferson in 1807 whorwho replied that 2 it presented a dreadful account against the perpetrators meaning the british. adding in this the united states may see what would have been their history had they continued you had -- under the the same masters. heaven seems to have provided them as an asylum for the suffering, and that certainly proved true in the 19th and early 20th centuries. and incidentally, i just noticed this evening out in the exhibition there was a sort of caricature type picture of the hessians. i know the hessians helped to put down the irish rebellion. they tried rather less
successfully to put down the american rebellion. now, of course remember the king of england was the elector of hanover, so hessen was pretty much next door and i've lived in germany for a period when i was a diplomat, and if you go to a castle in marborg in hessen, you can see a whole room devoted to the recruitment of soldiers to be sent across the atlantic to america and the phrase was off to castle. but however, the ruler, i forget his name, the ruler didn't exact -- wasn't actually very popular, and he and his family got their come upance at the time of the revolution. the united states of irish
immigrants leaving ireland in the wake of the disaster famine. the irish famine monument in this city near penns landing is the finest i have seen anywhere. irish american political organizations sprung up in a country beyond british control determined to help secure irish freedom and independent, and when militant solutions were not available or failed, they provided political and financial muscle for the breakthrough in the 1880s that put far reaching land reform and home rule on the political agenda, and i think charms stewart parnell was probably -- was certainly one of the first irish leaders to address the u.s. house of representatives in, i think, march 1880 and in very eloquent speech he made, too, which you can only actually read in the freeman's journal unfortunately and the paper.
for some reason his biographers have left it to one side. irish american leader john devoi was a key figure behind the 1916 rising, which started a chain reaction which ended in the founding of the irish state. equally important i would argue are the political aims adopted by the president woodrow wilson as the u.s. entered the great war in 1917 and i quote one o'his speeches. no nation should seek to extend its policy over any other nation or people, but every people should be left free to determine its own policy, its own way of development, unhindered, unthreatened, unafraid, along with the great. i am proposing government by consent of the governed. now wilson did not have ireland in mind when he said this, but he created an international fra framework in which an independent ireland was a
reasonable demand. as a considerable number of new states took shape around the end of the war. in fact, about a third of our european partners are states that were founded somewhere between 1917 and 1919, 20, 21. we i suppose were founded in a formal sense in '22. during the war of independence, british prime minister lloyd george was most concerned about american opinion. given britain's need for congressional approval for relief on a huge war debt. amonodevalera american born political leader of the independent struggle spent over a year in 1919, '20 seeking funds and support in the u.s. and in 1938, devalera then head of government told the american envoy in dublin that, i quote, without the moral support of american public opinion, the
irish free state could never have become a reality. and americans certainly had an influence on the irish constitution, noetably the supreme court and the doyle is actually described in the constitution as the house of representatives. support for an independent isle was also strongly expressed by president john f. kennedy, the first of irish catholic decent on his morale boosting visit in 1963 to his ancestral home at a time when american investment in ireland and tourism were becoming increasingly important. during the northern ireland conflict, key irish american congressmen supported constitutional nationalism rather than republican violence and later president clinton played a vital role in supporting paramilitary cease fires in the good friday agreement. today as we seek to protect the gains of the peace process and an open border for people and goods under the pressure of
brexit, american support and understanding does help to keep the situation on the rails. of course in today's world there are many things competing to be kept on track including representative democracy itself. thank you. [ applause ] >> with two such distinguished speakers offering so much insight, i hope all of you won't mind if we go just a little bit long. there's only two questions that i want to pose to both of you trying to sort of tease out a couple of the themes that you mentioned, and then we'll turn to some questions from the
audience. the first question is about majoritarianism versus the protection of minority rights. irish history certainly bears witness to the idea of the tyranny of minority rule, and the flip side of that, the justice of popular self-determination as was president wilson's speech was quoted, but i wonder whether or not we have now entered an age in which the greater danger to u.n. rights is excessive majoritarianism, whether we're talking about the chinese treatment of the uighurs, the indian push for the hinduization of kashmir, and many other parts of the world. so i wanted to sort of turn it around and say are there lessons in irish history that either of you would draw as to where the right line is between popular
sovereignty on the one hand and ethno nationalism on the other hand? >> you want to go? >> yeah. >> the classical writers on democracy the federalists, and that's essentially hamilton and madison, alexis detocqueville who one of his classic works, and jon stewart mill who was a great political philosopher in the mid-19th century. i mean, nethey were all very clr that democracy -- where a community was divided between a majority and a minority, where the -- those that made up those groups were not likely to change, certainly not in the short to medium term, that was not true democracy. now, clearly minority rule is
not democracy, and indeed i quoted from hamilton the dangers of both majority rule and minority rule, but i think coming -- coming to ireland, i do think that over the last century and a bit, i mean, there has been both an independent ireland and in northern ireland, you know, a too easy equation of majoritarianism with democracy. in other words, you know, the unionist community being a national minority but concentrate on a certain part of the island, they just simply have to fall into line. that would be still, i mean, the attitude of some people but
especially associated with republican dissidents, i think the majority of people have moved on from that to on the other hand what was the classic unionist position was that essentially the minority could like it or lump it, and you know, if they wanted to shift across the border to the south really so much -- so much the better. and i mean, i think the experience of the last century clearly is is that majoritarianism whether in northern ireland, whether in ireland as a whole, is not a solution, and the -- in the down street declaration, which led on into the good friday agreement as incorporated, the constitutional -- it kind of squares -- it squares -- it squares the circle. yes, self-determination but as in any long-divided country, it
has to be concurrent self-determination. in other words, as in cypress in 2004, there has to be a majority vote in both parts of the island, and of course if they both vote the same way, that also constitutes majority in the whole. but i have to say, when i was involved in back channel discussions with republicans at the most difficult proposition that they found to digest was that a simple majority in the island of ireland wasn't sufficient. now, it's not sufficient in theory or political practice, but also completely unenforceable in a practical way. >> of course one of the things that i would say is that today's politics, i'm only going to refer to brexit because it's the thing i know best, but i could apply it to other places as well. it's actually one of the issues now is a splint splt, which is
majoritarianism. the brexit vote was only 52 to 48, and yet there's a kind of winner takes all attitude seems to have taken root in britain. and i mean, you know, in all -- you know, you have some divisions here in the united states as well, and even though, you know, you have sort of fairly evenly split public opinion on both sides of the aisle, but i would think, we sometimes are hard on ourselves in ireland. or we say, well, you know, we managed to create, you know, at the time of the irish independence the early 20s, we managed to create a protestant state in the north, and a catholic state in the south, and this was an abject failure. i would say that we should also look at the fact that certainly
that the ideas of the united irishmen have never gone away. i mean, the major figure of the 1790s in ireland, he's still remembered. there's a big -- there's a monument to him in dublin. there's an event that takes place at his grave every year, and if you like irish people and irish politicians renew their commitment to those ideals, which were not always achieved by the way. i mean, we didn't manage as martin said, as i said didn't manage to create a unity of catholic irish descent. the 1790s produced the orange order, which was our reaction against the effort to create this notion of a single irish entity based around our irishness, but also in the 19th
century, the irish played a significant role in the politics of the british empire in the sense that as i mentioned the first great reform of the westminster parliament was brought by daniel koconnell, th first party, first proper party really that took root in britain was the irish party because it had a discipline of a kind that wasn't -- didn't exist in other parties, and then we come to the 20th century when we became independent. i mean, who would have thought in 1922 with the country divided down the middle and armed camps fighting a civil war against each other, who would have thought that ten years after the victors of that war, of that civil war, bloody civil war, voluntarily handed over power to those who had been defeated and vain kwish vanquished ten years before? who would have thought ireland
would have continued to be a stable democracy when democracy all over europe was wrecked? who would have thought that we could have survived? i remember reading as a historian, reading back on the events of the late '60s and early '70s. at that time there was an assumption in the media south of the border that this conflict was going to become an all ireland conflict. it didn't so, and eventually democratic ideas of the kind that were injected into the good friday agreement and notions of consent, and notions of respect for minorities became part and parcel of one of the most successful peace processes in the modern world, the irish peace process, which is why it's so important that we preserve those gains despite the divisiveness created by the brexit issue and the potential i implications that could have for ireland and peace in ireland. >> just add one thing to your answer is one of the great services the irish party did to
british democracy is that it helped remove the house of lords veto. >> okay. we're going to take some questions from the audience. who'd like to go first? do i see a hand? >> yes. at the back there. >> please. >> thank you, both for being here. this question is from a complete outsider who's inspired by some of the comments of the ambassador. you talked a little bit about religious divides between -- that seems to be a universal thing. in the context you were talking about, why did people care what religion one another were? >> i've been asked to repeat the questions for the benefit of c-span and the viewers. >> basically the question is what is the source of the sectarian concern of the religious difference between
protestants and catholics? what's the source of the fight? >> well, i mean, in ireland, won't talk about the european wars of religion, which that's a whole different topic, which we could go on forever on. but in ireland essentially the reformation didn't take root in ireland. it took root in britain and transformed britain into a protestant country, with some pockets of catholicism around the place which managed to survive the searchcenturies, an there's still prominent catholic families in britain who trace their origins back to before the reformation. but essentially britain became a protestant country, ireland didn't, and in particular the -- those who saw themselves as native irish held on to their catholic religion. now, there were other factors as well, of course, but that's essentially it. the dispute in ireland is really not a religious dispute as such. it's that you have two
identities on the isle of ireland, and those identities have been there for a very long time of centuries in fact, you have a british identity people who feel themselves to be part of a wider, that today used to cover the empire that stretched around the world. but today it covers essentially the united kingdom of great britain and northern ireland, and there are people in northern ireland who are devotedly attached to that identity, and there are also people in northern ireland who have a strong irish identity and see themselves as part of a wider irish pollty and have an aspiration to become a united ireland again at some time in the future. and the beauty of the good friday agreement, thanks to the role played by many people, but including george mitchell and president clinton, is that in northern ireland, you can be either british or irish or both, and it puts the constitutional
question of identity onto a different plane where it says if on some stage there is a part of the majority of people in northern ireland, the british and irish governments will cooperate and make that happen. so the beauty of the good friday agreement, and that's why it's so important that brexit doesn't break down that fragile consensus that was established 21 years ago and that's currently frayed somewhat by developments in northern irel d ireland, brexit is a complication that has been injected into the irish political scene in a very unhelpful way. that's why it's so important that we don't allow the brexit, the divisions created by brexit to undermine the institutions and the ethos that runs through the good friday agreement. >> i'd just like to add, i think a distinction does have to be drawn between the republic of
ireland and northern ireland. the religious difference is of negligible importance today in the republic of ireland. i am church of ireland protestant, and i was elected a t.d. in a constituency that is 98% nominally catholic, and the minister who was in charge of the 1916 sen teen ri congress n commemoratio commemorations, heather humphreys was a presbyterian from county monahan, which is part of the republic, and her grandfather signed the alster covena covenant. so it really doesn't interfere. now, if you go back 50 years, it was something of an innovation
when quite a lot of protestants came into the department of foreign affairs in 1974 both from the north and from the south but unfortunately north of the border, the one encouraging thing north of the border is there is a certain growth of the political middle ground. in the last european parliament elections, for the first time ever they elect three meps, and in the past, at least two of the three would always have been unionis unionists. this time they didn't happen, unless you -- you can regard the party as a soft unionist party but essentially the alliance party -- actually, now most of the divide was about brexit, and the point is that two people were elected who were totally against brexit or certainly totally against a hard crash out brexit, versus one on the
inside. so arguably things are getting a little bit more fluid, and of course northern ireland now divides demographically between, you know, catholic and protestant. they're both over 40, heading towards 45%, but then there is a significant sort of new immigrant population but also people who don't strongly identify as either and that in certain instances say both our city council can actually swing things, you know, where there's a reasonable decision to be taken versus an unreasonable one. so as i say, i think the fronts -- now, you see one of the things, i mean, the great cry back 100 years ago was that home rule would roam rule. this is why unionists were opposed to it. now of course you have a
situation where things like same-sex marriage and even a moderate form of abortion have been legislated for in the republic, and they are not legislated for in northern ireland, so the new cry from some rector in south belfast is we couldn't possibly have anything to do with the republic because it's become a heathen place. [ laughter ] >> this woman in the back row, this will have to be the last question, i'm afraid. go ahead. could you stand up, please, maybe? >> i can't. >> my apologies. >> but thank you, both, for providing me with a tremendous background on irish history as well as irish politics. i've learned a lot about politics being married to a politician in philadelphia.
ambassador, i would like to ask you of all the responsibilities that you have in your role as ambassador, what do you enjoy the most? >> okay. question real quickly, what does the ambassador enjoy the most? >> look, that differs from country to country, obviously. [ laughter ] >> and i won't tell you what i enjoy the most in other parts of the worlds, i've been ambassador to seven or eight countries. when i was in malaysia i was ambassador to seven, eight different countries at that time. in america, to be quite honest with you what i enjoy most is irish america because it's a phenomenon i didn't really understand because unlike many of my colleagues who served here as junior diplomats and then have come back later on, and they're kind of steeped in that understanding of irish america, and i wasn't. i never had a posting here in america before. lived in kansas city of all
places in 19 -- i shouldn't say that. kansas city is a great place, and i still -- i still -- i mean, i still follow the chiefs, and i keep an eye on the royals as well. there you are. it shows you where you come to first has a big influence on your attitudes. so i didn't really know america apart from being here on holidays a few times and being here on official business, which is you go to new york and washington and that's about it. so i have really been uplifted by coming across people who maybe four or five or more generations removed from our country, and yet still feel some affinity for ireland, some affection for ireland, and admiration for ireland and an affiliation with ireland, and that is a tremendous experience for somebody like myself representing a smaller country in this wonderful colossus of a
country. and it's not to be undervalued in any way because most embassies don't have the opportunity i have to connect with people who feel that way. i mentioned it last evening in philadelphia, at the irish center. i spoke to a crowd of more than 200 people who turned up just to hear a discussion about brexit and the implications of brexit for ireland, so that for me is the thing i enjoy most of all, you know, you might have ideas of diplomats as operating in a very refined kind of er roe indict slice of society, we do get to meet senior people, that's true. i do genuinely most enjoy engagement with irish america, which to me is a phenomenon that
doesn't exist anywhere else in the world, and it gives ireland a profile and a presence here we couldn't possibly hope to have anywhere else in the world because we don't have a community locally that is fully embedded. it's fully part of the fabric of american society, but is also has an affinity, affection for, today in philadelphia i'm going to go to maybe ten different organizations, irish organizations that are here and that are part of the fabric of today's philadelphia. but are also all connected in various ways with ireland and feel an affinity with our country, and that's the thing i enjoy most of all. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> i would just add underlining one point made by the ambassador, i went out to sri lanka in 2002 after the cease fire, and one of the complaints they had was that they didn't have a significant sri lankan
community here in the united states and therefore the united states once terribly -- had no huge strategic importance. the united states wasn't terribly interested in what happened there. >> so i want to say thank you to our guests. [ applause ] >> thank you to all of you for being here this evening. thank you to the american revolution for hosting the wonderful evening. if you have not yet seen the exhibit, please stick around. you'll have another chance to do so now. we're adjourned. [ applause ] the house will be in order. >> for 40 years, c-span has been providing america unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and
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