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Title: Henry Fitzherbert, Massachusetts to "Dear Sir"
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileFitzherbert, Henry/2
SenderFitzherbert, Henry
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationunknown
Sender Religionunknown
OriginSpringfield, Mass., USA
DestinationThe Times
Recipient Genderunknown
SourceThe Belfast News-Letter, Thursday, 19 January, 1865
ArchiveThe Central Library, Belfast
Doc. No.106422
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, Td by JT, 22:06:01.
Word Count896
The following letter, signed " Henry Fitzherbert,"
and dated from Springfield, Massachusetts, December
26th, appears in the Times:-

" Sir - One of the most extraordinary developments
of the intense hostility which exists among Irishmen
in America to the mother country is strongly
illustrated by the formation in the States of the
extensive organisation known as the Fenian Brotherhood.
This organisation, not composed exclusively of
Irishmen, nor even of (Roman) Catholics, now numbers
over half-a-million of men, and has at its disposal
over 1,000,000 dols. [dollars?], and already forms a
powerful element in American politics. The movement
for the formation of this body originated in Chicago,
Illinois, about three years ago, and since then the
organisation has spread almost universally throughout
the Northern States, and even gained a foothold in
Canada. It was originally intended that the objects
of the body should be kept profoundly secret, but it
was an Irish organisation, and little by little, the
objects at which the Fenians aimed leaked out, until
now no secret whatever is made of the end in view,
and in a call for a general convention of Fenians to
be held at Cincinnati, Ohio, a few weeks hence, it
is stated that 'before the necessity for another
convention exists the fires of liberty will be
rekindled upon the altars of Ireland, and Irishmen
from all parts of the world will be flocking back to
the Emerald Isle to right the many centuries of British
" That the organisation has the consistency and the
strength which unanimity gives there can be no doubt;
neither can we doubt that it will finally involve the
entire Irish element in the States, and by uniting
Irishmen everywhere in this country, enable them to
wield a much more powerful influence than heretofore,
and an influence which will always be intensely
adverse to Great Britain.
" To-day the Fenians are in the most active state
of progression. Every Irishman who can read and write,
and who has no property at stake, is an 'organiser'
among the Fenians, and lodges are springing up with
incredible rapidity. In their published documents
the Fenians state their object to be simply to restore
Ireland 'to an independent position, such as it was
before the union with England and Scotland,' but in
their daily conversation they talk of the entire
independence of Ireland, and this object they seek
to accomplish through their secret organisation,
either by involving Great Britain and the Northern
States in war, or by lighting the fires of revolt in
Ireland itself. An active correspondence is kept
up with the discontented in Ireland; the poorest
labourer here subscribes his dollar towards the general
fund, and arms are being purchased and distributed
among the members of the body, and others are being
stored for shipment to Ireland as opportunity offers.
Each Fenian is solemnly pledged to promote revolt in
Ireland, to hasten thither at the first outbreak, and
to sacrifice his life for the cause. In addition to
this every member of the entire Fenian body of 500,000
men is pledged by a solemn oath to instantly take up
arms against Great Britain in case of war being
declared between that country and the Government
claiming to represent the United States.
" The Fenians do not, as might at first appear
probable, rest their chief hopes of success upon the
probability of a rupture between Great Britain and
the Government at Washington. They seem to know
somehow that such an esentially selfish people as
the Americans will never go to war for the sake of
the Irish whom they flatter, whose votes they buy and
sell, and whom they despise with a depth of contempt
which is perfectly astonishing when one considers to
what an extent the Yankees are under obligations to
the Irish; the Fenians do not rest their hopes of
success on this so much as upon the feasibility of
raising a revolt in Ireland. The idea that obtains
among them is that it would be possible to land
surreptitiously an organised body of some 10,000
Fenian brothers in Ireland, and then proceed to
'regenerate' their beloved isle after their own
fashion, and to 'cripple England, the enemy of
Democracy.' It never seems to occur to these misled
men that the peaceable inhabitants of Ireland might
object to be regenerated, or that England might have
something to say about being 'crippled.' Ireland,
they say, is all ready; and it must be admitted that
the only sources of information which most of these
ignorant men possess - viz. the correspondence of
their friends and relatives in Ireland - tends to
confirm their delusion.
" The American politicians carefully foster the
hallucination under which these men labour. They
consider, with a lately deceased American politician,
'that it is preposterous that the inhabitants of a
little island in the middle of the ocean should
govern one quarter of the habitable globe and rule
150,000,000 of people.' Whether the gentleman's
estimate is correct or not the principle is the same.
Inordinate national vanity and jealousy are the
parents of bitter hatred.
" It is impossible for one who has watched the
Fenians as the writer has to doubt their mischievous
intentions or their ability to create trouble.
Whatever they might attempt would, of course, result
in disastrous failure for them. In the meantime it
would be well to convince them beforehand of the
chimerical nature of their projects, and so confound
them at the start."
(Transcribed by James Tuff)