The Irish American Fenian Invasion Of Canada 1866

3614 words - 14 pages

Fenian Invasion of Canada"Here's to the IrishThe Men that God made madFor all their wars are merryAnd all their songs are sad."- G.K. ChestertonThe rise of the Fenian Movement in the United States grew from a long tradition of revolutionary movements to free Ireland from the oppressive rule of the British Imperialists. Irish who immigrated to the United States during the 1840s- 1860s were drawn to the Fenian movement as these were people who had seen first hand the effects of 19th century British Imperialistic rule on their homeland. The primary example of this is the Great Famine of the 1800's.Many Irish, on both sides of the Atlantic, placed the blame for the famine solely on the "heartless tyranny of the British government and on the cruel greed of the Protestant landlords." Generations of immigrants had their views shaped by these events and thus, many of them became determined to seek revenge and retribution for the genocide and misery that resulted from these policies. Hence, many joined organizations such as the Fenians to extract that revengeMost of the members of the Fenians ended up in the United States because of starvation, eviction and emigration. The potato crop in Ireland failed for five successive years, culminating in "Black 47" , 1847, when hundreds of thousands of Irish perished from hunger or disease. In addition, during this time period more than a half-million Irish men , women and children were evicted from their cottages by landlords who were predominantly English. They were eager to enlarge their pasture lands and at the same time rid themselves of starving dependents.The policy of the British government during this period can best be summed up through the words of Sir Charles Trevelyan, who directed the Irish relief efforts of the British government. "The great evil with which we have to contend, is not the physical evil of the famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the Irish people."During the height of the famine, the London Times, considered the semi-official newspaper of the British government, declared that Ireland's catastrophe was "a great blessing as it was a valuable opportunity for settling once and for all, the vexed question of Irish discontent"Other officials in the government advocated that the English and the Scottish farmers be brought into replace the evicted Irish. These new farmers would be "Thrifty, loyal and Protestant" As a consequence of such policies and prejudices, large amounts of food were actually shipped out of Ireland to Britain during the famine years. Relief efforts by some groups were stymied by the British government that feared too much charity might vitiate the Irish character. This policy would seem to be a case of "ethnic cleansing" analogous to situations seen in Stalinist Ukraine, Nazi Germany, or what we are seeing in the former Yugoslavia.An additional factor in the famine tragedy was the British government's devotion to the free market and...

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