|James Lucas, Philadelphia, to the Rev. John Kenyon, Ireland.
|Irish Emigration Database
|Philadelphia, Penn., USA
|Rev John Kenyon
|The Nation, Dublin, Saturday, January 29, 1848.
|The Linenhall Library, Belfast.
|Document added by LT, 18:01:96.
|IRISH NATIONALITY IN AMERICA.
One of our exiled countrymen in the United States has
addressed this letter to the Rev. Mr. Kenyon. He is a
type of a class who love Ireland all the more tenderly
Philadelphia, Oct. 25, 1847.
REV. AND DEAR SIR - With a heart devoted to everything
which has for its object the amelioration of the
condition of the Irish people, and the elevation of that
beautiful but alas! unfortunate country which gave me
birth. I take up my pen to address you. The citizens of
this vast republic have been no idle spectators of the
scenes which the Irish recently witnessed, of the miseries
and calamities which they have experienced, and more
particularly of the numerous political wrongs and injuries
which have been inflicted upon them by an unrelenting and
merciless oppressor. During the last two years but very
little has been accomplished by us for the political
regeneration of Ireland. The attention of the American
public has been directed towards the relief of those whom
famine and pestilence had threatened to annihilate. The
cries of your countrymen asking for bread have reached our
ears and touched our hearts. We have been moved by these
things to abandon for a season all political agitation with
reference to the Repeal question, in order to save the
people from death. Our efforts have been felt and
appreciated by all classes of men. In addition to this our
adopted country has been engaged in war with Mexico, and
our attention has also been called to that quarter. Now
that the horrors of famine and pestilence have been
partially allayed in Ireland, and the capital of Mexico has
been triumphantly captured by our victorious troops, we can
again buckle on our armour, to render poor Ireland all the
aid we can, to enable her to obtain a Repeal of the
accursed Union. It has been well said by the patriotic
Franklin that, to be "free, a nation needs only to will
it." Union and action, on the part of the people of Ireland,
is alone necessary; and when this is effected, let them
only will their freedom and England dare not resist. Divide
and rule has been the ruling and governing policy of
England in all countries and at all times. Ireland has been
the victim of this system of governmental tactics; under it
she has writhed and groaned for centuries - as long as it
lasts she will continue so for ever. Let no man dare assert
that the natural and just rights of a united and brave
nation of eight millions could be delayed for an instant if
they willed them to be theirs.
The craven policy lately introduced into the ranks of the
honest Repealers of Ireland, whilst it is unworthy of the
people, is equally futile in the attainment of good. So
long as the tyrant can with impunity walk over the necks of
his subjects, as long will his victims be objects not of
respect and sympathy, but of derision and contempt. It
cannot be questioned for a moment that moral force is a
powerful agent in conducting affairs towards a favorable
and happy issue. It would be well that all reforms could be
effected by this means; and it is certain that there are many
which can never be accomplished by any other means. It is
not true, however, that it, and it alone, will achieve all
political innovations. It is preposterous to suppose that
civil liberty can only be attained by this great lever,
though always a powerful auxiliary. Neither is it
recommended that any other agent should be employed in
Ireland for the amelioration of the wrongs of the people.
The great error is, in admitting that in no case should
any other means be used.
That civil liberty is not worth a drop of human blood, is
a doctrine entirely novel as well as puerile. It would be
more manly to assert that human blood was so degraded as to
be worthless unless vivified and purified by the hallowed
influences of civil liberty; that life was not worthy of
enjoyment without the blessings of freedom. There are those
who have freely offered up their lives, not that they should
enjoy their natural and inalienable rights, but that they
should leave them as a sacred legacy to their posterity.
Moral force is progression; without it physical force would
be useless. The one requires the aid of the other. The one
prepares, the other executes. Allow the former to be the
sole basis of actions, and, at the same time, deny the
necessity of the latter, and no great advancement can ever
be made by the people of Ireland in the attainment of their
just rights. The reason is obvious. The people of England
are well acquainted with the strength of the moral force
principle. They inculcate its maxims from the pulpit, and
through the press, whilst, at the same time, they go on
augmenting their physical force, not only with a desire of
retaining all that they possess, but also of acquiring more.
Can it be possible that any people can achieve any great
undertaking by the exercise of any great principal,
powerful, it is true, but only as an auxiliary over a more
powerful adversary, equally well acquainted with the use and
application of the same principle, aided and strengthened by
other great principles equally powerful. Moral force can be
opposed to moral force; but, when it is arrayed against
itself, the contest will remain doubtful, and physical force
will then acquire an easy victory.
Our Republic, the South American States, Belgium, Greece,
and many other countries, bear witness to the right of
the people to vindicate themselves by the sword. The
illustrious Father of the Christian Catholic world not only
admits the necessity of physical force, but actually
inspires the long since languishing sons of Italy with
patriotic ardour, and a heroic devotion for independence.
Pius lX. is organising trained battalions of
citizen-soldiers to repel the Austrian invader from his
territory. All Italy is following his example. The universal
heart of civilisation and justice throbs in sympathy for his
noble efforts. The tyrant Austrian trembles when the
universe is convulsed. The base invader will skulk away, and
his cowardly vassels will not dare to stem the torrent. This
vast Republic will soon act a conspicuous part in the great
theatre of the world, and her influence will be potent for
the emancipation of unborn millions.
A new era is upon us. The age of iron despotism will soon
cease for ever. In the midst of national convulsions,
methinks, Ireland will be benefitted. Her condition cannot
be worse. Better days will soon dawn upon that seagrit isle.
The Confederation is destined to redeem their country. The
talents and patriotism of the Confederates begin to be felt
throughout the earth; every packet which arrives from
England brings consolation to the hearts of thousands who
rejoice in your under taking.
Let me assure you, reverend sir, that in you we recognise
the unflinching patriot and the fearless advocate of your
country's wrongs. Your position is a proud one, and the
day is not far distant when your persecutors will be
compelled to acknowledge the justice of your cause and the
disinterestedness of your motives. The noble stand you
first took upon the platform of your country's regeneration
was an evidence of your devotion to her best interests -
your subsequent career is now a matter of universal history.
There is not a city, town, or hamlet in America in which
your name is not favorably known and admired by every true
republican. Limerick has been the culmen of your fame; you
had to contend against powerful odds, but you were not to
be dismayed. Go on and prosper in your thrice happy and
glorious undertaking; the eyes of the world are upon you
and your compatriots; ere long, instead of being a few, your
name will be Legion. Your cause is the cause of the country
and the cause of God. By its success, and by it alone,
Ireland shall again become a nation.
Enclosed you will find a small remittance of 5l. It is my
request that you appropriate as much of that amount as will
pay my subscription to that invaluable newspaper called
THE NATION, for two years, the remainder is to be applied
by you towards forming a Confederate Club in your own
parish to be called the Washington, Pius lX., Jefferson,
Franklin, or any name you may think proper to bestow upon
it. It is the settled purpose of many of our citizens here
to organise immediately and form a Confederate Club, and
render you all the aid we can. It will be a source of
pleasure to us to co-operate with you in the political
regeneration of old Ireland by assisting Young Ireland.
Organise your own Club and we will support it by paying all
the expenses incurred. This shall be done as a mark of
respect for yourself and devotion to Ireland. Remember me to
Hon. [Honourable?] Smith O'Brien, T. F. Meagher, Charles
Gavan Duffy, John Mitchel, Esqrs., and all their
compatriots, and at the same time accept for yourself and
your cause my best wishes and lasting friendship.
I am your obedient servant, and true friend,
Formerly of Carlingford, county Louth.
Rev. John Kenyon.