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tv   U.S.- Irish Relations Since the American Revolution  CSPAN  November 2, 2019 10:25am-11:56am EDT

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"444 days to freedom" details the hostage crisis. us,ohn limbert spoke for and he was immediately blindfolded and bound. surrendered. >> this will be on american history tv. announcer: irish ambassador to the united states daniel mulhall and historian martin mansergh talked about the connections between the irish and american 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." mr. mansergh's ancestor, richard st.
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george, is the exhibit's subject. scott: >> i'm scott stevenson. i'm the president and ceo of the museum of the american revolution. [applause] here: how many of you are for the first time? i love that the proportion of the hands is getting lower and lower. we opened just over two years , andere in philadelphia the mission of this museum is to uncover and share compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that started the ongoing experience in liberty and quality and
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self-government. for those of you have been to the newseum and been through our 16,000 square feet of exhibitions with incredible theies of the making of united states of america and also explores the ongoing legacies of the revolution both here in america and around the world, you have seen the war tent of george washington, where our first commander in chief lived and experienced some of the lowest and highest moments of the american revolution. so it is a great place to visit, and we are glad to you here tonight for this wonderful evening exploit connections between ireland and the american revolution through a andersation with martin, daniel for this coincides with the opening of our first international phone exhibition revolution, the
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life and death of a soldier. this brings together objects and works of art from four countries not only exploring just to life of an individual man born in ireland in the 1750's whose life spans the age of revolutions and connects the 1776 revolution ine with the revolution ireland of 1798. as we begin to discuss this evening, those are revolutions that are ongoing and that continued to ripple around the world trade is worth reminding ourselves also we are just a block from the bookshop of robert bell. that's where the pamphlet common sense comes from and we have it in our power to begin the world over again. for our audience this evening, you can learn a lot about the exhibitionabout the
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through our website. you can learn about special program and how to visit here. i would like to recognize our lead sponsors for the exhibit, the harvey's, the irish georgian society and the irish government through its support program that allowed us to bring these objects together for the first time in an exhibition. it will only appear here at the museum and will run through st. patrick's day of next year. our host committee, and you can see their names up on the title slide here have been working with us for months and they are , and we havening
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the honorable jimmy lind, where are you? i saw you here a minute ago. i will call on you later, by the way. joseph mars, kevin with the irish-american business chamber and network. ed mcbride, who was able to bring that music that you heard here this evening. maria, i saw her earlier. charles, i know he is out there as well. who kepteen sullivan, us all in line and on task and on target. in thanking them. my main role is to do two things, the first is to encourage you to silence your cell phones, which i will do right now. and then to introduce our moderator for this evening, my good friend peg snyder, the president and ceo of the world affairs council here in
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philadelphia. he is a local boy originally and began his career at the council 30 years ago, but then he left to pursue a career in politics and was a candidate was chief of staff for the senator, and was a love is the -- lobbyist and a political consultant. in december 2012 he came back here to take the helm of the world affairs council. it has been very gratifying to have a growing partnership with this counsel because the museum of the american revolution is to ensure that the promise of the american revolution endures and that makes sure that this is a place not just telling a story set long ago in the past, but sees the revolution as ongoing experience. so this partnership has been wonderful to tie these themes
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and continue to resonate across the nation and around the world. please join me in welcoming craig snyder. [applause] >> let me agree that the partnership between the museum and the council i think is a wonderful addition to civic philadelphia. i have the pleasure this evening of introducing and a bit later engaging in some conversation with our honored speakers for this evening. i will introduce them both you at the same time first we will have a presentation by ambassador daniel mulhall. the ambassador served as a member of the secretariat of the forum for peace and
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reconciliation and was part of the irish revolution of 1798 and the relevance of those revolutions today. second, we will have a presentation by dr. martin mansergh, a historian and former diplomatic figure who helped negotiate the good friday agreement. a descendent of richard st. george, the subject of the museum's special exhibition, the cost of revolution. the ambassador would make his remarks and they will engage in some conversation. [applause]
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>> thank you very much for being here this evening. it's fantastic to have a crowd like this. you might find it difficult in ireland to get a crowd like this. my feeling is that we should be doing something out-of-doors rather than being in a museum. i am bowled over by this museum here. museums are getting better and better. this one is really one of the best i have seen anywhere. you saw the new museum in ireland last week, the museum of literature island, which is focused on the work of james joyce and also the irish tradition. it is wonderful to come here and see how brilliantly this is projected, and then to come up see the exhibition
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focused on the life of st. george and the era where he lived. i want to congratulate everyone connected with this museum for this achievement in putting this together and bringing these historyl -- putting the of this vital period, war history to life in the way you have done. i wish you all the very best of the development of this museum in the years ahead. i am glad to be here with martin. when i started my diplomatic career in 1978, i know i do not am, martin, but i mansergh shared room in dublin with a couple of other colleagues and it's great to be back with them here again in philadelphia on this wonderful evening.
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especially when we think back on the history of america and the impact america had on ireland. i am a historian, but i am not a professional historian. i'm an amateur. i have written a few books. i have a blog which you can get on my twitter account where i blog on a regular basis in our history. it's easier to do that then politics, because politics can get you in trouble. my most recent historical adventure was to attend the naming of a new park in devoted to the. memory of robert emmett, who is a person from this era who was executed after a short and
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unsuccessful rebellion, who became an icon as a sort of sacrificial victim in the course of our freedom. irishllows me to do history 101. that is sort of my specialty. lori, i will get to the 18th century in about 30 seconds. the normans first invaded ireland in the 12th century, in 1169. and they invaded my part of ireland and established themselves in ireland, and the king, who did not want to make sure they didn't get too independent in their thinking, came across and establish
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ed himself as the emotional king of ireland. it took centuries for that kingship to be effective throughout the whole length of ireland. fast forward through the century, it was a disaster for the irish, for the native irish aristocracy. they were defeated at the beginning of the century when spanish support for the irish chieftains failed to bring success and those chieftains left ireland in the early 17th century and their descendents are scattered all over europe in . they fought in the armies in the 19th century and many of them became distinguished figures. and they saw the final defeat of
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the catholic irish. again, an exodus of people from that generation left, never to return. so the 18th century, which is one we are focusing on with st. george, you can look at it from two angles. you can say, wasn't that an amazing century? think about it, jonathan swift, whose plays are still performed on the stage. i could go on. if you go to dublin today, you will still see evidence of the great flowering of the anglo-irish aristocracy and the 18th century. all the great public buildings and great houses, countries,
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the houses from that time are an expression of the success of british descent who became the ruling class. however, if you look at it from the angle of the irish peasant catholic, inrish the 18th century irish catholics were faced with the disabilities imposed on them by the penal laws, which prevented catholics from doing a lot of things. over a period of time, the laws were relaxed somewhat. still ireland was completely dominated by a relatively small percentage of the population. i have to confess, this was not unique. everywhere in europe, people who didn't belong to the ruling class had a pretty miserable
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lives. if you were a central european peasant in the 17th century during the 30 year war, it was no picnic. it's not that ireland was uniquely oppressed. but there was a bit of a difference in the sense there was a religious difference in ireland between the ruling class who were mainly protestants and the majority of the population, who were catholic in religion. that religious difference really became a dividing line that has really plagued us for the last several centuries.
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essentially all of that great went into decline and you have a catholic partisan there, and now of course were prosperous catholics. the best example of this would be daniel collins family. he brought about catholic emancipation, the first great reform. that family were very well-to-do. but that required a certain amount of keeping your head down, not attracting any negative attention from authorities and basically playing the game successfully. they weren't the only ones who achieved that kind of status, or that were able to hang on to some of their wealth and their lands and their privileges as
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part of the catholic majority, which otherwise suffered badly during the course of the 18th century. most irish people, if you ask me irish person, give me a significant event in the 18th i would say hardly a single irish person would name an event in the first 18 years of that century. not that nothing happened, but there is no memory of anything significant in that period. it is seen as a low point for irish identity. the first date they might mention if they were reasonably well-informed was 1782. 1782 was six years after the american revolution. the american declaration of
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independence. what happened in ireland after the american declaration was very interesting. downstairs you can see a copy of the american declaration published in a irish newspaper about only a few months after the declaration was issued here in philadelphia. so very quickly that declaration started to have an effect. its effect was largely people who were educated and more prosperous who could read first of all and subscribing to the kind of newspapers that carried the declarations. it had a special effect on people that had a lot of family connections between presbyterians and the settlement
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here in north america. that generated a form of colonial nationalism and in 1782 the irish parliament managed to assert itself and acquired additional powers. it wasn't an independent parlor -- parliament by any means, but certainly it extracted additional powers and responsibilities from a reluctant british parliament in london. that set off what i would call a decade of colonial nationalism. and that gradually developed into a form of republicanism. especially after the french revolution broke out in 1789. therefore the ideas of the american revolution combined with the ideas of the french revolution gave rise to the society of the united irishmen. they are the ones who nine years after the french revolution they
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to engineer an uprising 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 referredidealistically to as bringing together catholic protestants at the center. that failed miserably. but the republican ideal, although revolution was crushed, principally because of the difference between americans and ireland's, and that was the big difference. it wasn't that there wasn't enough irish people that could have rebelled, the published population was probably higher than probably the colonies on the east coast of america, but
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ireland was close to britain, therefore the rebellion was put down with severity. the impact of that rebellion is that it sowed the seeds of a republican tradition. there was total defeat for the revolution, it was crushed with great severity by someone whose name we know well here. this lord became the great restorer of order in the wake of the 1798 rebellion. after that you have the active union, which was brought out by the time that somehow ireland would be a sort of difficulty because revolutionary france who
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, was then fighting the napoleonic wars against britain and its allies would find a way of using ireland to undermined the british war effort. ireland became an important security backstop. that word is used a lot these days in a different context. so the unit was passed, and really the history of ireland is all about the union and the attempt to reverse the active union and re-create a subtle form of political independence. 19th century irish history is basically the story of the union and successive attempts to undermine the union in the wake of the 1798 rebellion. the memory of 1798 was kept alive in ireland throughout the 19th century mainly through the
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writings of people who spent a lot of time in america. these writings became very powerful in passing on that tradition of irish republican sentiment, went on through the 19th century. for the most part 19th century ireland was characterized by attempts to use the parliament in britain and use the irish membership of that parliament in order to repeat the active union in the 1840's or to bring about but he was a great
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champion in the mid-19th century until the result of a divorce scandal. he died in 1891. he appears frequently in the works of james joyce. he is everywhere. his memory is there constantly as a presence. so the big game changer for ireland and irish america was the famine of the 1840's. there was a significant body of irish immigrants in america in the 18th century and in the first four decades of the 19th century, significant numbers came in establish themselves in america, not just people from northern ireland, many of whom became presbyterian and came over here because they felt and
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those who came here looking for opportunities to better their lives and their families. it was after the famine the whole thing changed dramatically. you had a huge outflow of people from ireland, probably 4 million people arrived in north america between 1845 and 1900s. that is the basis of today's irish-american diaspora. i have had the privilege of meeting them all over america, and they are everywhere, not just in philadelphia, boston, new york, but everywhere. savannah, you name it, they are there. that also changed irish political realities, because suddenly the irish in their struggle for independence had a great community of people around the world, especially north
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america, who supported the irish cause and supported irish efforts, secure independence for our country. president higgins, when he spoke at the university on monday in new york, he quoted from an editorial in the times of london in 1860. 12 years before during the famine, the times of london were saying things like, the irish had it coming to them. by 1860, they had change their tune. it's an amazing editorial. they talked about we now must irish nation is moving from its confines across
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, to the greatest country in the world and going to cause us no end of trouble in the future. they will want to replay the battles of the past, but they would do so from the most powerful -- and they would spread from boston, philadelphia, new york, right across san francisco. it is true. there are those who argue that the flame of irish independence was kept alive here in the united states in the of the 19th second half century. any irish movement that wanted support, support was available in large quantities here in the united states. i will give you an example. the first president of the gaelic league set up in 1893 to revise the irish language he spent seven months and visited 55 american cities and brought
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home a king's ransom, a huge amount of money. it was 12,000 pounds, all collected at speeches he gave all over the united states. there were times when he spoke in irish. there were enough people in the audience who came from those areas in ireland. he wrote a book about his american journey, which is about to be reissued. he wrote it in irish, but it will be republished in the next few months. it records his trip. he was only one of many. the place to do it was america. it was americans who were responsible for maintaining the flame and notion of irish independence throughout the second half of the century. they tried to invade canada. i visited a memorial in buffalo
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a few months ago, and you could see across the niagara river thousands traveled across, which was a noble endeavor, even if it didn't work as well as they had hoped. [laughter] so they sent thomas clark back spentland, and crockett 20 years in prison for his involvement in the movement. he was sent back. he had moved to america and settled here, to philadelphia if i'm not mistaken. and clark was sent back with money to organize a rebellion in ireland once the opportunity rose. he was probably the main
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organizer of the rising of 1916. so there is a direct line, between the american evolution in the 19th century as a republic, and then the irish who arrived here becoming part of the fabric of america, and exporting their passions. from the beginning, the irish became integral to the fabric of american public life, while at the same time maintaining their 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, that existed in every country with irish population, but in the irish case it existed very strongly. it continues to the present day, really. and if you think about the role that irish-americans played in the peace process in northern
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ireland, for example, and also a role negatively in ireland in funding some of the early activities of the ira during the troubles. but at the end, people like tip o'neill, governor kerry, ted kennedy, brought around america to become advocates of a peaceful settlement to the problems of northern ireland. today, in the era of brexit, we still have so many irish-americans who have our back, and are concerned. i spent last night at the irish center here in philadelphia, and 200 people turned up to hear myself and congressman brendan boyle talk about the implications of brexit for the irish. we don't want anyone to take sides. we simply want our friends in america to be assured that if brexit happens, it doesn't come at the expense of peace in
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northern ireland, which was hard-won at the price of great american influence over the last 30 years. the final point i want to make, i gave a lecture earlier this year, at the university of virginia in the rotunda room, designed by thomas jefferson, where he had a meal shortly before his death with the marquis of lafayette doing one of his tours of america in the 1820's, and i gave a lecture on declaring independence. america 1776, ireland 1919. the proclamation of 1916 but the declaration was 1919. obviously, the american one is a document of global renown, but i made the point that interestingly, the american revolution produced a republican experiment, which was pretty
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much unparalleled in human history, that you could claim some precedents perhaps in the ancient world, but in the modern world, this was the first time a republic had been established. strangely enough, the countries that became independent in europe in the 19th century, none of them declared a republic, not a single one. single one. but ireland went down the republican road in 1916 first of all, and later on in 1919, and eventually became an independent country in 1922, then we declared a republic in 1949. so the republican ethos didn't really take root in most parts of europe. most parts of europe, the countries that became independent, they immediately found a prince of
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some kind who could become the king. we didn't do that. we didn't in 1916 decide to proclaim the the kingdom of ireland with a german prince available to head up the operation. some had that idea, but it didn't take root, because the american example, i am convinced, was powerful in ireland. because of the influence of irish-americans that they passed on back to ireland, combined with united irishmen, they passed down an ethos of republicanism. to this day, ireland is a genuine republic. other countries have sort of imperial republics. in the irish case, we take republican ideals very seriously indeed. and most of my colleagues in the foreign service are full of people with names clearly drawn from old
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titles of the old european aristocracy. now in many cases republics. there are many monarchies in europe, too, but in the irish case, most of my colleagues in the foreign ministry are people from backgrounds like my own. i was the first member of my family to go to university, and many colleagues i joined the service with, now retiring, have exactly the same background. we came from modest backgrounds, not propertied or landed or privileged, because the republican ethos was taken seriously, and that's the case to the present day. the final point i want to make, our country, we decided to go for a seat on the security council in 2021-2022, so we are
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campaigning. there's lots of arguments, but our number one argument is that we are more like most countries in the world than other countries in europe are. we have in our dna an understanding of the place 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, and that was the path most of the countries in today's world had to follow over the course of the troubled 20th century. thank you very much for your attention. [applause] scott: ambassador and mrs. mulhall, presidents and ceo's,
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trustees, governor, president of the honorary committee, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great privilege to be staying in the city of philadelphia. as you know, the continental congress met, and the declaration of independence was drawn up. the constitution of the united states was agreed, and the city that was the usa's temporary capital in its first 10 years during the presidency of george washington. this museum commemorates all those achievements, elements of which provided an important model for
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other countries, including ireland, both then and since. this is also about the many uphill struggles and hardships of the war of independence which gave effect to the politics. at the final panel of the permanent exhibition upstairs, quoting thomas jefferson in 1826, his last year, states, "the declaration of independence was the 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, daniel mulhall, and may i complement him on his splendid
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speech. we once worked in the same office on stevens green, in the economic division of the irish department of foreign affairs in the late 1970's, and occasionally shared a platform since, notably in the irish center of camden in 2017 after the brexit referendum when he was 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 of the irish contribution to its own development, but of its own crucial role in helping to get the good friday agreement and the peace process over the line
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in the 1990's, and keeping it there so far anyway since. the reason i am here tonight is however more personal. in that i am 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 both 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 unresolved parts of its legacy, that cost also deserves reflection. since 2012, i've been vice chair of the irish government's expert advisory group on commemorations, marking the progression in ireland from contested home rule legislation introduced in 1912, past and suspended in 1914, through the first world war, to the 1916 rising, followed by a struggle for independence in 1919 to 1921, then a split over the terms of a treaty negotiated with the british, leading to civil war, and finally the
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formation of the irish free state and northern ireland as a devolved region of the u.k. , 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 intended to be reflective and to deepen our understanding and ensure that pride and enthusiasm where appropriate are tempered by an appreciation of the hard realities and the cost of conflicts. thastt 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 island, and still bears the scars of the more recent
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northern ireland conflict. the statement on centenarians from 1917 to 1923 states, the aim of commemoration should be to broaden sympathies, without having to abandon loyalties. in particular, to recognize the value of ideals and sacrifices, including the 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 might be best achieved by encouraging multiple or plural commemorations, rather than trying to impose one view. well, on the island of 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. where possible, we should strive to transcend the divisions of the past. ireland was a colony before and after america, though formally for many centuries a subordinate kingdom, an annex to england. plantations were started in ireland, not always with success, in the 16th and early 17th century, and this led
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to prolonged conflict with the indigenous and older established population, ending in not just plantations, but transplantations, and complete conquest by the english. a virtual monopoly of power, wealth and position was put in the hands of the british backed elite, strictly defined by their established protestant religion, and in a small minority except in parts of ulster. something
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that would become more and more anomalous, with the age of revolution. both the rank injustice of monopolistic and sectarian minority rule and the longer-term consequences explain why no one in the u.k. outside of unionists in northern ireland seek any more of the glorious revolution of 1689 that 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 was when louis xiv and his chancellor successfully -- xv and his chancellor successfully neutered for the rest of his reign the only somewhat independent institutions of the ancien regime, the parliaments, which had the right to remonstrate and hold up laws without having a final veto. the absolutist power in sweden, with french support, was also called a revolution. america completely
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altered the meaning of the term. north america in the 18th century seemed to be the future. irish-born anglican philosopher, and a pioneer of higher education in america, bishop berkeley, wrote "westward the course of empire takes its way, time's noblest offering is its last. " colonists were looking for a better life, but also expected to enjoy the same rights as citizens that they or
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their forebears enjoyed at home in england, or britain. the reality was different. whether in ireland or in the american colonies, despite local assemblies or parliament, london insisted on the final say. from
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the great irish born orator edmund burke put his finger on the weakness of the british position in his famous speech in 1775, on conciliation with america, a logic that would also apply in ireland during the irish war of independence. i quote, "the use of force alone is temporary. it may subdue for a moment, but does not remove the necessity of subduing it again, and a nation is not governed which is perpetually --" the american war sparked a reaction in ireland, leading to the beginning of a relaxation of laws against catholics and
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commercial restrictions. following the entry of france and spain on the side of america for the formation of volunteers and exultation of the weakness of the british government, to extract legislative independence for the exclusive province of the irish parliament in 1782, which in theory at least was a sovereign parliament. some of the irish protestant elite corresponded with and identified with the american colonists. lafayette,m on a home visit to france in 1779, look at the possibility of a descent on ireland. the subject of the exhibition is excellently researched and presented by
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matthew and his teams, a young irish landowner originally with the surname of manser, the grandfather of lieutenant general richardson george, latterly commander of his majesty king george's forces in ireland. in his early 20's, reflecting on his inheritance, he changed his surname to st. george. in his college days in cambridge, he contributed a number of printed satirical drawings, his principal target being effete manners. in 1776, he eagerly joined the army to fight in america. just before he went, he was painted in uniform by gainsborough. all these scenes and paintings you can see in the exhibition there. he had conventional upper-class political views, and was always to simply anti-french. he was involved in the philadelphia campaign, in the early autumn of 1777, and apart from fighting, he sketched and left vivid written battle descriptions of the battles of brandywine and paoli, later commissioning composite battle paintings from an italian artist to whom he gave detailed instructions. this -- at this time, he received his serious head wound, which he carried for the rest of his life and which altered his personality. while the american revolution today would be generally regarded as one of the cleanest wars in history, a
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close-up view shows the hardship and unpleasantness of war, leaving benjamin franklin to write, "th ere has never been or ever will be such a 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. so true was this at home. when we were commemorating the bicentennial of the 1798 rebellion 21 years ago, our speaker of the house of representatives, dr. rory o'hanlon, enjoined on me when i was speaking in public not to mention the monahan militia, which like the north fork one, was at the cutting edge of brooding -- british forces
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putting down the rebellion. the irish war of independence pitted the ira against the initially mostly nativeborn royal irish and saddlery. outside of ulster, some catholic, irish speaking and moderate nationalists. 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, was focused on a -- photographed on a visit to valley forge. i followed in his footsteps on sunday. valley forge saw the regeneration of the continental army, but while there were no battles, the casualties from disease were high. just before the truce in june 1921, the gorilla -- guerilla leader michael collins wrote about increasing the intensity of war by attacking the property of
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loyalists rather than their lives, drawing on the proclamation devised by franklin and signed by the irish born secretary to the congress charles thompson. afterwards, the difficulty in both countries was to persuade those who had been involved in fighting to get re-accustomed to the rule of law. one of the problems the founding fathers based in devising their constitution, which is very relevant to
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ireland and northern ireland, is the relationship between majority and minority, so that neither majority nor minority are oppressed. as alexander hamilton noted in 1787, "give all power to the many and they will oppressed a few. give all power to the few and they will give all power to the few and they will oppressed the many. " the federalist, which himself a nd james madison were mostly responsible for, had two answers to this problem. the entrenchment of rights, and the
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creation of a multiplicity of interests. one should not assume that the early politics of the american republic was filled with people who were always high-minded. on the contrary, it has been described as the golden age of literary assassination. gore vidal's closely research novel "burr," about aaron baer, the serving vice president whose duel with alexander hamilton led to the latter's premature death, refers to the opposition to jefferson's sedition act, which hamilton explained, "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 the french intervention helped to victory. jefferson, u.s. ambassador to france, certainly talked to a l awyer and member of the french national assembly, who was drafting the declaration of the rights of man. the formation of the society of united irishmen in 1790 was conceived initially in the mainly 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,
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resulted in a bloodbath and the incorporation of ireland into a union with great britain, intended to provide an insuperable bulwark against the separate irish democracy with its own representative parliament. richard st. george was a zealous defender of the existing order, and did not take kindly to being warned in 1794 by an insubordinate army lieutenant supposedly protecting him, "kings are but names, the people are the state." attempting to repress the defenders, he was assassinated, along with his agent, in february 1798, three months before the rebellion broke out. today, he would be seen in the words of this museum's, in the philadelphia inquirer, as "on the wrong side of two different revolutions. " but then he was seen by the irish establishment
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at the time as a tragic victim, albeit as one who had perhaps acted imprudently. on his last evening, a few hours before he was murdered, or assassinated, st. george had dinner with a neighboring landlord. he went out with soldiers the following morning, after he received news. his wife margaret, however, had been educated by the feminist, her governess mary wollstonecraft, and had a response to thomas payne's vindication of the rights of man, the vindication of the rights of women. a a few weeks later, she would hide in the
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cellar at moorpark, asthe leader of the rebellion as he was being sought by authorities. when the army called, he clearly received some kind of tipoff. fitzgerald was hidden in the seller, and she simply said to the army, 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. [laughter] 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
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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 their widow matilda, whose son published their diaries. he enlisted french help, and committed suicide when under sentence of death in 1798, famously described the unity of ireland as describing the common name of irishmen as a way of asserting independence from britain. it did not work out that way. as we heard, robert emmett led another unsuccessful rebellion in 1803, and in his favorite -- famous trial speech, looked to vindication when my country takes her place among the
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nations of the world. curiously, that defining phrase echoes through the opening of 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 us. " robert's elder brother thomas emmett emigrated to america, where he became attorney general of new york. in 1798, he testified to a secret committee of the irish parliament in prophetic terms the economic case for independence, "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 -- [laughter] william nick nevin -- mcnevin, whose large memorial stands with thomas emmett's outside st. paul's church in lower manhattan, wrote one of the earliest memoirs and sent a letter to thomas jefferson, who replied it represented a dreadful account against the perpetrators, meaning the british, adding that in this the
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united states might see what had been their history have a continued under the same masters. heaven seems to have provided them as an asylum for the suffering. that certainly proved very true in the 19th and early 20th centuries. this, i noticed this evening out in the exhibitions, as there was a sort of caricature-type picture of the hessians. the hessians helped to put down the irish rebellion. they tried rather less successfully to put down the american rebellion. now, of course we remember the king of eglin was the elector of
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hanover, so hessen was pretty much next-door -- england was the elector of hanover, so hessen was pretty much an door. i lived in germany when i was a diplomat, and when you go to a castle in hessen, you can see a whole wall devoted to the recruitment of soldiers to be sent across the atlantic to america. however, the rule, i forget his name, the rules was not -- ruler was not very popular. he and his family got their comeuppance, at the time of the french revolution. the united states became the principal destination of hundreds of thousands of, millions indeed, of irish immigrants leaving ireland in the wake of the disastrous
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famine, and for many decades afterwards. the irish famine monument in the city near penn'landing -- penn's landing is the finest i have seen anywhere. irish-american political organizations sprang up in a country beyond british control, determined to help secure irish freedom and independence. when militant solutions were not available or failed, they provided political and financial muscle for the breakthrough in the 1880's that put far-reaching land reform and home rule on the political agenda. and i think charles 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, with a very eloquent speech he made, which you can only actually read
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in the freeman's journal, unfortunately. for some reason, his biographers have left it to one side. irish-american leader john devoy, a key leader behind the uprising that led to the founding of the irish free state in 1922. but of equal importance i would argue where the political aims adopted by the president, woodrow wilson, as the u.s. entered the great war in 1917. i quote one of 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, and threatened, unafraid, the little along with the great and the powerful. " 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 framework in which an independent island was a reasonable demand, as a considerable number of new states took shape around the end of the war. in fact, about a
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third of our european partners are states founded between 1917 and 1919 -1921. i suppose we were founded in a formal sense in 1922. during the war of independence, the reddish prime minister lloyd george was most concerned about american -- 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. an american-born political leader of the independence struggle spent over a year in 1919-1920 seeking funds and support in the u.s. in 1938, the head of government told the american envoy in dublin, "without the moral support of american public opinion, the irish free state could never have become reality. " americans certainly had an
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influence on the irish constitution, notably the supreme court, which is described in the constitution -- and the -- which is described in the constitution as a house of representatives. the first president of irish descent, john f. kennedy, visited his ancestral home at a time when american investment and tourism in ireland were becoming crucially important. during the northern ireland conflict, key irish-american congressmen supported constitutional nationalism, and later president clinton played a vital role in supporting paramilitary cease-fires and the good friday agreement. today, as we seek to protect the gains of the peace process and in open border for people and goods under the pressure of brexit, american support and understanding does
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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] >> two such distinguished speakers offering so much insight. i hope all of you won't mind if we go just a little bit long. only two questions i want to post to both of you, trying to tease out a couple themes that you mentioned, and then we will turn
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to 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 tierney of minority rule -- tr yranny of minority rule, and the flipside of that, the justice of popular self-determination, as the president wilson speech quoted. but i wonder whether or not we have now entered an age in which the greater danger to human rights is excessive majoritarianism, whether 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 turn around and say, are there lessons in irish history that either of you would draw, as to where the right line
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is between popular sovereignty on the one hand, and the ethnic nationalism on the other hand -- ethnonationalism on the other hand? martin: the classical writers on democracy, hamilton and madison, alexis de toqueville, one of his classic works was "la democracie en amerique," and john stuart mill, a political philosopher, they were all clear that when a community is divided between a majority and minority, and those who 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 that coming to ireland, i do think that over the last century
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and a bit, there has been both in 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 concentrated in certain parts of the island, they simply have to fall into line. that would be
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still, i mean, the attitude of some people, especially associated with republican dissidents. the majority of people i think have moved on from that. on the other hand, the classic unionist position was that essentially the minority could, like it or lump it, and if they wanted to shift across the border to the south, so much the better. i think the experience of the last century clearly is that majoritarianism, in northern ireland, in ireland as a whole, is not a solution. and in the down street declaration that led into the good friday agreement, it kind of squares the circle. yes, self-determination, but as in any long-divided country, it has
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to be concurrent self-determination. in other words, in 2004, there has to be a majority vote in both parts of the island, and if they both vote the same way, that also constitutes majority. i'd have to say, when i was involved in back channel discussions with republicans, the most difficult proposition they found to digest was that a simple majority in the island of ireland was not sufficient in theory or in political practice, but also completely unenforceable in a practical way. amb. mulhall: one of the things i would say, today's politics, we refer to brexit, but you could apply it to other places as well. one of
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the issues now is a split that is not majoritarianism. the brexit vote was only 52-48, and yet there's kind of a winner takes all attitude that seems to have taken root in britain. and, you know, in all, you have divisions in the united states as well. even though you have very evenly split public opinion on both sides of the aisle. we sometimes say, you know, we managed to create at the time of irish independence, in the early 1920's, create a protestant state in the north and a catholic state in the south, and this was an abject failure. i would say we should also look at the fact that certainly, that the ideals of the united
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irishmen, they were going away. a major figure of the 1790's in ireland, he still remembered. there's a monument to him in dublin, an event that takes place at his grave every year, and if you like irish people and irish politicians, the commitment to these ideals, which were not always achieved, by the way. we did not manage to create the unity of catholics and protestants, as tyhhe 1790's produce the orange order, a reaction against the effort to create this notion of the single irish identity, based on our
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irishness. 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 great reform, parliament, brought about by daniel mccall and. -- mccullen. the first proper party that was in britain was the irish party, because it had a discipline of the kind that didn't exist in other parties. in the 20th century, when we get independence. who would have thought, in 1922, with a country divided down the middle in armed camps fighting a civil war against each other, who would have thought that 10 years after the victors of that civil war, bloody civil war, voluntarily handed over power to those who had been defeated and vanquished, 10 years before? who would have thought that ireland would continue to be a stable parliamentary democracy, all through the traumas of the 1930's,, when democracy all over
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europe is j-- woh -- who would have thought? i remember as a historian reading back on the events of the late 1960's and early 1970's. at that time, there was an association in the media, that this conflict would become an all-ireland conflict. it didn't do so, and eventually democratic ideals of the kind that were injected into the good friday agreement, notions of consent, 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 is so important and deserves looking at, despite the divisiveness created by the brexit issue and potential implications it could have for brexit and the peace in ireland. martin: adding one thing to your answer. one of the great services the irish party did for british democracy, it helped remove the house of lords veto.
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>> ok. questions from the audience. who would like to go first? >> yes. >> thank you both for being here. this question is sort of a complete outsider's, inspired by some of the comments. you talked a little bit about religious divisions, sort of universal thing. but in the context you were talking about, why did people care what religion one another were? >> i will repeat the question for the benefit of c-span and the viewers. basically the question, what is the source of this sectarian concern, of the religious difference between protestants and catholics? amb. mulhall: in ireland, we will talk about the european wars of religion, which is a whole
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different topic 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 catholicism that managed to survive. there are 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 those who saw themselves as native irish held onto their catholic religion. the dispute in ireland is really not a religious dispute as such. it's that you have two identities on the
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island of ireland, and those identities have been there for a very long time, for centuries in fact. you have a british identity, of people who feel themselves to be part of a wider polity, that used to cover the empire that stretched around the world, but today it covers essentially the united kingdom, great britain and northern ireland, and there are people in northern ireland who are devotedly attached to that identity. they are also people in northern ireland who have a strong irish identity, and see themselves as part of a wider irish polity, and have an aspiration to become a united ireland again at some time in the future. the beauty of the good friday agreement, thanks to the role played by many people mentioned, president clinton, is that in northern ireland you can be either british, or irish, or
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both. it puts the constitutional question of identity onto a different plane, where it says if at some stage there is a desire of the majority of people in northern ireland to unite with ireland, the governments will cooperate and make that happen. so the beauty of the friday agreement, why it is so important that brexit doesn't break down that fragile consensus that was established 21 years ago, and currently frayed somewhat by development surround brexit, a complication that has been injected into the irish political scene. that's why it is so important that we don't allow the brexit, the divisions created by brexit to undermine the institutions and ethose that runs through the good friday agreement. martin: i would just like to add, i think a distinction has 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 mean,
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i'm church of ireland protestant, and i was elected in a constituency that is 98% nominally catholic. and the minister who was in charge of the 1960's the 1960's centenary commemoration was an ulster presbyterian from county monahan, which is part of the republic, and her grandfather signed the ulster covenant. so, it really does not interfere with it. 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
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the south. but unfortunately, north of the border, one encouraging thing north of the border is that there's a certain growth of the political middle ground. in the last european parliament elections, for the first time ever, they elected three mep's, and in the past at least two of the three would always have been unionist. this time, that didn't happen, unless you regard the alliance party, a very soft unionist party, but essentially the alliance party and sinn fein, m ost of the divide was about brexit, and the point is that two people were elected who were totally against brexit, or totally against a hard crash out brexit, versus one. so arguably things are getting a little more fluid, and of course northern ireland now
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divides demographically between catholic and protestant, both heading towards 45%, but there is a significant sort of new immigrant population, but also people who don't strongly identify as either, and in certain instances, in the be lfast city council, can actually swing things when there is a reasonable decision to be taken versus an unreasonable one. so i think, now, you see, one of the things, the great cry 100 years ago was that home rule would be rome rule, which is why ulster unionists were opposed. now of course you have a situation where things like same-sex marriage and even a moderate
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form of abortion have been legislated in the republic, and are not legislated for in northern ireland. so the new protestant cry from some rector in south belfast, we couldn't possibly have anything to do with the republic, because it has become a heathen place. [laughter] >> over in the back row, please. this will have to be the last question, i am afraid. >> 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
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philadelphia. [laughter] ambassador, i'd like to ask you, of all the responsibilities you have in your role as ambassador, what do you enjoy the most? >> quickly, what do you enjoy the most? amb. mulhall: it varies from country to country, obviously. [laughter] i will tell you what i enjoy most in other parts of the world. i have been ambassador of seven or eight countries, malaysia. but 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. unlike many of my colleagues who served here as junior diplomats, then came back later on, steeped in that understanding of irish america, i wasn't. i'd never been in america before. i lived in kansas city, of all places. i shouldn't say that, kansas city is a great place. i still follow
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the chiefs and keep an eye on the royals. [laughter] so, i didn't really know america, apart from being here on holidays a few times and being on official business, which is you go to new york and washington and that's about it. so i have really been uplifted, 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, admiration for ireland, affiliation with ireland. and that's a tremendous experience, for somebody like myself
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representing a smaller country in this wonderful colossus of a country. and it is 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 might have ideas of diplomats operating in a very refined, erudite slice of society, and of course we do get to meet senior people, that is true. i get to go to big events that happen. but 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 gives ireland a presence here we could not possibly hope to have anywhere else in the world, because we don't have a community locally. it's part of the fabric of
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american society, but also has an affinity and affection for ireland. in philadelphia, there maybe are 10 different irish organizations here, part of the fabric of the city of philadelphia and connected in various ways to ireland, and feel affinity with our country. thank you very much. [applause] >>martin: i would like to underline one point made by the ambassador. i went 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 wasn't terribly, had no huge strategic import, the united states wasn't terribly
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interested in what happened there. >> i want to say thank you to our guests. [applause] i thank all of you for being here. thank you to the american revolution for hosting. if you have not yet seen the exhibit, please stick around. you will have another chance to do so now. we are adjourned. [applause] [captions [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] you're watching american history tv on c-span3. on monday, the vietnam war. watch president nexus final majority speech. it tuesday, sprint court
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justices reflect on the impact supremeirst female court justice. on wednesday, african american history. thursday a look at past impeachment proceedings. revolution american american history tv every weekend and all next week at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3. >> next on the presidency, ronald reagan's political affairs director sits down with historian craig shirley behind the scenes of the campaign for the white house. this conversation which picks up with the 1976 republican contest against incumbent gerald ford took place as part of mr. shirley's university of virginia


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