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Title: W.S. O'Brien's Letter to T.F. Meagher.
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileO'Brien, W.S/35
SenderMrs W.S. O'Brien
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationunknown
Sender Religionunknown
OriginBoston?, Mass.? USA
RecipientMeagher, T.F.
Recipient Gendermale
Relationshipshe attends one of his speeches and
SourceThe Belfast Newsletter, Wednesday, 23 October, 1861.
ArchiveThe Central Library, Belfast.
Doc. No.9705317
Partial Date
Doc. TypeLET
LogDocument added by LT, 23:05:97.
Word Count552

MR. W.S. O'BRIEN has written a letter to Mr. T.F.
Meagher on the American war. The following are
extracts. The letter is dated Oct. 21:-

"I have read with much interest the speech
recently delivered by you at Boston; but though I
admire its fervid eloquence, and agree with many of
the sentiments which it contains, I differ altogether
from the conclusions which you endeavour to
enforce. I am, therefore, prepared to break a lance
with you in argument, and to contend that the Irish
in America ought to appear as mediators, instead of
being participators, in the fratricidal strife which is
now desolating the fairest portion of the Western
Hemisphere. Had the Northerns obtained any
marked advantages in the present war they might
have been ready to listen to mediation, but pride now
intercepts the voice of reason, of humanity, and even
of self-interest.
"Let us first contemplate the case in which
success shall have crowned the efforts of the Unionists,
and that Charleston, Augusta, Savannah,
Montgomery, Mobile, Memphis, and New Orleans shall be
in possession of the Federal troops. Will such a
conquest tend to reconcile the Southerns to
acquiescence in the Union? Does not the whole course
of history show that a conquered nation can be kept in
subjection only by the same means by which it was
considered? Have you estimated what number of men will
be required to keep in subjection a territory which is
nearly as large as the whole of Europe, or what will
be the annual expense imposed upon the Union by
the maintenance of such a force?
"Do you believe it possible to maintain a
Republican form of government in the conquered States?
On the other hand, are you prepared to domineer
over ten millions of people and their descendants
throughout [--?] ----[this?] [-------?] coercion of military
power? Do you believe it possible to maintain the
Republican institutions of the North concurrently
with the maintenance of a standing army consisting
of half-a-million of soldiers, who must necessarily be
placed at the disposal of an executive chief?
At the present moment it is difficult to say whether
either of the contending parties has gained a single
point of ascendancy in relation to the other.
"This state of things is peculiarly favourable to an
adjustment, without compromise of honor --[or?] on either
" . . . For my own part, I should not be
surprised if a separation of the slave States from the
Northern States were to bring about an early
emancipation of the slaves; for I do not believe that
slavery can be maintained in territories which lie
contiguous to free states, except by the aid of a
fugitive slave law, which has been for ever repealed.
I am willing to go to America, at my own expense,
to act as internuncio between the contending
parties, in case my services be accepted in that capacity.
"During a public life which now extends over a
period of thirty-three years I have never solicited
office of any kind for myself, from either Kings.
Queens, Viceroys, or Ministers; but I am now
disposed to solicit the situation of unpaid Envoy
between the contending sections of the American
people, and it will be the proudest triumph of my
life if I can assist in restoring peace between the
disunited members of the great American family,
whose most vital interests are so deeply injured by
this internecine war."