Слике страница
PDF
ePub

must cease to be a people following our traditions, if we support it, and will be dragged down to the lowest levels of commercial greed.

For these reasons I submit that the defeat of the entire treaty is the most American thing, is the most humanitarian thing, is the most just thing that can now be done.

Judge Cohalan. The last speaker before Mr. Bourke Cockran will be Mr. Daniel C. O'Flaherty, of Richmond, Va.

STATEMENT OF MR. DANIEL C. O'FLAHERTY.

Mr. O'flaherty. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee: In my opinion the matter which we are considering demonstrates the wisdom of the fathers when they created the Constitution of the United States. I do not believe in the history of our country a more momentous epoch has ever arisen than is now before you. It is the question of the ratification, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, of a treaty that I think is more momentous in its consequences to the people of the world, and especially to the people of the United States, than anything that has ever come before the United States Senate. I speak to you, gentlemen, briefly, not as a politician, but as a Democrat, as a Virginian, as a Southerner, and if I may say so, as a Protestant and a Mason. Some people have said to me, and I have been told, even out in the hall here to-day, that this is a religious question. I say to you that it is not a religious question, it is not a political question, but it is a question which every American citizen has a right to take into consideration. I repeat that since the clay when the Liberty Bell rang in old Philadelphia, proclaiming the Declaration of Independence, no more important matter has ever been considered by the people of this country. I have not time to go into it in the way of an argument, and after what has been said here to-day it is not necessary to argue it to such distinguished men, constitutional lawyers, but I believe that the ratification of this treaty, with articles 10 and 11 and with the other articles that follow along after it, would not make the world safe for democracy, but it would make it safe for hypocrisy. [Applause.]

What is a treaty? It is a contract between nations, and everything that is put in it is put in for somebody's benefit. What is article 10 put in there for? Is it for the benefit of the United States? We do not need it. For whose benefits is it to retain the integrity, for instance, of the British Empire? Somebody says, "Well, how does it do it?" Let us take an illustration: Suppose Canada or Ireland should desire to be free. Suppose Egypt should become free by the volition of England, and England should try to help Canada or Ireland. With whom would we go? We should have to fight against Canada in favor of England. Is not that true? I say as a lawyer that in my humble opinion articles 10 and 11 of this treaty bind Ireland and every other nation that is under the hoof of England, hand and foot to the cross.

Why should we not speak out? I say to you, gentlemen, in my opinion that if we do not speak out at this awful moment, the very stones in the street should cry out for us.

I do not claim to speak for all the people of Virginia. I am glad to say that you have on this committee one of our most distinguished sons, who has his own opinion on this subject and I may differ with him: but we have the right to come and be heard, and I come to you to-day as a Virginian, as a Southerner, as an Irishman, as an IrishAmerican, as a descendant of Irish ancestors back for a thousand years. But I am first an American, and I believe that some of these articles are the greatest blow that has ever been aimed at the American Constitution. [Applause.]

Mr. Chairman, I come to you to bear to you a message from a mass meeting held in Richmond the other day. the capital of Virginia, the capital of the old Confederacy, if you please, the home State of our distinguished President. It passed this resolution unanimously.

Senator Brandegee. Was it a large mass meeting?

Mr. O'flaherty. Four thousand people, a large mass meeting for a city of our size, and not a dissenting voice. It unanimously adopted these resolutions:

Resolved, That we declare ourselves unreservedly in favor of tiie independence of Ireland, and demand that our Government recognize the Irish Republic; and

Resolved, That we register our opposition to any proposed league of nations which does not protect all American rights and ideals and which binds us to guarantee the territorial integrity of the British and Japanese Empires.

This resolution was adopted at a meeting at which the mayor of the city presided, and to which his excellency the governor gave the honor of his presence. I believe that if a plebiscite of the people of Virginia were taken without a word of discussion to-day you would find that the majority of them would be in favor of the freedom of Ireland. [Applause.] And I am sure that if you were to go before them and tell them what is being done and tell the truth of the matter they would be still more greatly in favor of it.

Gentlemen, I have been in a quandary. It is not my desire to embarrass the administration. I believe in that great Virginian who is the President of the United States, Mr. Wilson, but I believe that any league of nations which perpetuates the British Empire in its present condition, in which portions of that empire are in perpetual thraldom, is un-American, unfair, and will never be ratified by the will and the wishes of the American people. I believe I would be unfair to myself as an American, untrue to the teachings of the great Virginia patriots who did so much to establish this Republic, if I did not raise my voice at least against articles 10 and 11. especially, of the proposed league of nations, which, in my view, rivet the bands that bind Ireland to England, and would compel us to assist England in keeping Ireland in perpetual thraldom. I trust in the wisdom of this committee. I say reverently that I thank God that unto men like these were committed by the fathers the keeping of the ark of the covenant of this constitution, that we may be saved—I hope I am not speaking like a school boy—that we may be saved from the rocks ahead of us; that we remember what George Washington said when he warned us to keep out of entangling alliances. Why, this is a cobweb of such a character that the mind of no human being can fathom where we will go under it. So I hope that this committee will safeguard the rights of Ireland, that ancient nation, so that she may take her place among the nations of the earth. She is a nation; she has been a nation; she has every element of a nation, the geography, the ethnology, the soil, the climate, everything that goes to make up a nation. Why under heaven should Ireland, the oldest of all the white nations on earth, be the only one that is denied her freedom? [Applause.]

A favorite objection of those who are opposed to the independence -of Ireland is what they glibly call the "Ulster question." Along with this is also the other oft-repeated statement that Irishmen can't agree among themselves. The last and only election ever held in Ireland in which the question of self-determination was in issue was in December, 1918, in which outside of Ulster, which is only about •one-fifth of Ireland, not a single constituency, except a gerrymandered one in Dublin, was carried by the Unionists. So you .have the greatest unanimity in four-fifths of Ireland for a republic.

It is true that in Ulster the Irish do not agree on this political question, or rather those who claim not to be Irish, do not agree. Without discussing the fact that we never agreed upon any political issue in our own country, and that at the time of the formation of our own republic, there were many Tories, none Irish, however, and we very often fail to agree and it is preferable that we should not always agree.

It is quite interesting to analyze the Ulster situation from an impartial standpoint, taking the vote of December, 1918, as a basis. I say an impartial standpoint because the writer of this article belongs religiously to the faction that claims to be in the majority in Ulster, and who are opposed to the independence of Ireland, but one who does not share that view. I, as a Protestant, a Mason, and ■one with other than Irish blood in my veins, can not be accused of being partial to the Catholic Irish, and certainly can see the facts and analyze them freely from the point of the Ulster people, if it is a religious question.

The chief exponent, as is well known, of this Ulster bugaboo is Mr. Carson, who himself until recently has never represented a constituency in Ireland, but who attempts to speak for the Province of Ulster, and his ideas have been widely disseminated through the English press as those which should be accepted by the outside world.

Ulster consists of nine counties—Donegal, Londonderry, Antrim, Tyrone, Down, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Caven, and Armagh. These nine counties in the election which was held for Parliament in 1918 were entitled to 25 seats. Out of these the Sinn Feiners carried 10. the Irish party which was not with the Sinn Feiners but opposed to the Unionists, carried 4, so that the Carsonites or Unionists, only carried 11, or a minority in Ulster. Four of these 11 seats were accredited to Antrim, in which the city of Belfast is situated, and all these representatives are Unionists. So that outside of the county in which Belfast is situated there were only eight Unionists representatives elected in the whole of Ireland, the seven outside of Antrim, and the one in the gerrymandered district near Dublin, as against 73 Sinn Feiners and (5 of the Irish Party and 6 Nationalists. Since that election, just about a month ago, one of the constituents in Antrim was captured by the Sinn Feiners in a bye election showing the tremendous change in the sentiment in the only stronghold that the Unionists had. and this is the election at which Mr. Carson said that if he didn't carry he would resign, which of course was nothing but a bluff, for he is simply the agent of the English Government, and is not likely to resign his job so long as he can hold it. The majority for the Unionists in those constituencies last December averaged about 6,000.

These are the cold facts in the case, which are verified by the official reports which I have before me as to the election of 1918. We then have a minority of a small section of the country, less than onefifth of it, asking that the will of the people of a great country in which a million votes were cast be heard as against the rights of the. many.

Belfast in the last election cast about 79,000 votes for the Union and 39,000 for the Independence. By some sanctity unknown to Americans this 40,000 majority who claim they are not Irish but Sotch-Irish, claim that they ought to rule over a million Irish who are not only shamed to be called Irish, but glory in the distinction. When, therefore, you hear anyone repeat the statement that Ireland can not agree as to what she wants, simply recall these facts and ask yourself if such " twaddle " should receive any consideration at the hands of the Americans who believe in majority rule.

But rest assured that Robert Emmet, a Protestant Irishman's epitaph will be written some day, and monuments will be erected to others without regard to religion or creed, but simply because they were friends of Irish freedom; and further, that if England's fleet was thrice as great, and her gold as many times more potent in disseminating false propaganda, the Irish Republic will live.

It is thus seen that the only part of Ireland which can't agree among themselves are the Irishmen of Ulster, and even here many have said that the will of the rest of Ireland should prevail.

The fact is that many of the people of Antrim, and especially Belfast, are not Irish, but are Scotch, or as they are sometimes erroneousy called Scotch-Irish, whatever that means, for that term is a much abusd one and ignorantly used, for as a matter of fact there is no such a race as Scotch-Irish as a race.

The remedy would seem to be, if these people are Scotch or English and feel that they do not want to be ruled by the majority of the people of the country, to take a boat and sail across to Glasgow which is just a few hours' ride and let the great mass of people who dwell in Ireland conduct the affairs of the country to suit themselves. Belfast is nothing more than a mushroom manufacturing town, which might succeed as well in building ships and making linen in Glasgow as on the other side of the Irish Sea. As well might the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Newport News, which constitute about the same proportion to the State of Virginia, say that we won't play with you at all because we don't like you in other respects and therefore we are not going to submit to the majority of the people of Virginia. In other words, if you should move the shipyards from Belfast, which 40 years ago had a population of less than 50,000, to the Clyde or the Firth, you would get rid of the Ulster question and remove the only argument that England has. But luckily this ancient nation has never recognized, and never will as Jong as the blood of the Gael flows through Irish veins, the government of England maintained at Dublin Castle by force of arms, fraud, and bribery.

Another argument which is highly esteemed by these self-styled "Better-than-thou " Irishmen, is that while we have not the population we have the wealth and intelligence. The facts in the case as to this canard are even stronger than as to the question of the majority in Ulster.

Lemster, in which the city of Dublin is situated, is a much wealthier province than Ulster. The city of Dublin, with her-population, which is really about the same as Belfast, is assessed with property of the value of over £11,000,000, or Dublin is assessed about twice as much as Belfast. Dublin pays an income tax of about £200,000. The whole of Leinster, taken together, is much wealthier than Ulster, whose wealth is the lowest, except Connaught, which is in the extreme western part of Ireland and much of its territory is a wild and rocky, broken sea country which is not susceptible of cultivation or development.

But, say these same objectors, Ulster is Protestant and the rest of Ireland is Catholic, and therefore the majority should not rule. That is democracy with a reservation which American people can not understand, for it announces that if the majority in Ulster are Protestants they should rule, if Catholic they should not. Quoting, however, from the religious census in the 9 counties of Ulster, there are 690,134 Catholics, 451,566 Presbyterians, 48,490 Methodists, and other scattered religious denominations. The self-constituted guardians of this part of Ireland are always talking of taking care of these Presbyterians. This is wasted sympathy, for in the history of Ireland's fight for independence since the days of Hugh O'Neill down to the present time the majority of the men who have fought for Ireland's independence have been of these same Irish Presbyterians or Protestant. Wolftone, Lord Edward Fitzgerald, O'Connor, and Emmet were all Irish Presbyterians. John Mitchell, John Philpot Curran and many other leaders were Protestants.

The only leaders that Ireland has had for generations who were Catholics were Daniel O'Connell and Kedmond. and it was O'Connell's fight that won for both the Catholics and Presbyterians the right of suffrage. The great emancipation bill which freed the Catholics, freed the Presbyterians, for in the days of O'Connell. no one but the Church of England could vote or hold office, and the so-called Irish Parliament, which voted to destrov Ireland and carried the Union, was a Church of England body with not a single Catholic in it. What then becomes of the foolish statement by men who are otherwise usually intelligent that Ireland's fight for independence and throwing off of the British yoke has been a religious one? In the past 50 years and prior to the Easter rebellion many Irish Protestants, for political offenses, have been hanged, drawn and quartered, and dogs have lapped their blood in the streets of Dublin.

In Ireland's glorious future these names will not be forgotten, though they are not heroes in the sight of Sir Edward Carson or Bonar Law, they will in future generations be revered as men who would not hug the chains that bound them, nor kiss the feet that trampled upon them, content to be slaves if they could but eat and drink, for such a condition is natural asphyxia in which the breathing "of the great dumb, stupid animal alone gives evidence that it lives at all."

It was a religious question in a sense at one time, to give help to Protestants and Catholics alike, the right of suffrage, without which

[ocr errors]
« ПретходнаНастави »