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STATEMENT OF HON. W. BOURKE COCKRAN.
Judge Cohalan. Mr. Chairman, T desire now to present the last speaker of the hearing. I want to say first, a word of thanks, and to reserve the right for filing statements, which you gave some time ago, from a great many people from different parts of the country. I shall not take up further time now, except to present one of the foremost men of the country and of the Trish race, a scholar, a student of affairs, a statesman, and an orator, Hon. William Bourke Cockran, of New York.
Mr. Cockran. Mr. Chairman and Senators, I would like to begin by answering some questions that were propounded this morning to gentlemen w-ho appeared here in opposition to this proposed League of Nations. One of the most important was that of Senator Borah, who asked if it were true, as some gentlemen have contended on the floor of the Senate, that if this League of Nations be established it «ould prove a very effective agency through which Ireland could obtain her independence. I take it that Senator Brandegee's question was put in amplification of Senator Borah's inquiry, because he said Senator Walsh made practically the same statement in the course of debate.
Senator Brandegee. I did ask such a question; but I did not know that Senator Borah had previously asked it.
Mr. Cockran. I shall, therefore, answer both Senators together. 1 think that Senator Walsh supplied the answer to his own contention most effectively. He said, as I recollect, that there were three means by which a subject nation could effect its independence. One was by consent of the governing nation, the other was by revolt of the subject people themselves, the third was by outside intervention, and he claimed great credit for the proposed League of Nations, because it prohibited but one of those methods of relief, leaving the other two open and available. The objection to this position is that no nation ever did achieve its independence by consent of the dominant power, or bv naked action of its own people. Everv successful revolution of which I have any knowledge was effected through outside support. The American Colonies would not have been free but for the intervention of France. Cuba would still be under the domination of Spain but for the intervention of this country, and Greece would still be languishing under the heel of the Turk if it had not been for the assistance of Christendom. So that when Senator Walsh says that by this treaty subject nations are deprived of but one avenue of escape from servitude, the answer is that they are deprived of the only one through which escape can be effected.
There is another question which Senator Brandegee asked that I think ought to be answered. He inquired whether appeals are allowed from decisions by a single official committing Irish men and women to jail for long periods. At this time Ireland is practically under martial law—which means no law at all—or what is virtually its equivalent, "The defense of the realm" act. Everybody understands that martial law is suspension of law, substituting for law w-hich is a regular fixed rule of conduct, the whim or judgment of a single official. In Ireland, under the present system, the people are governed by two whims, either one of which constitutes the rule of conduct for the population. One is the wrhim of the commanding
military officer, and the other is the whim of an official called a resident magistrate, apparently for the reason that he is never a resident of the locality in which lie officiates. The expression, "R. M.,' officially intended to signify resident magistrate, will describe him much more correctly as "removable magistrate." He is the only magistrate under the whole British system who is removable at the pleasure of the Crown. I need not remind the chairman of this body that the chief fruit gamed by the revolution of 1688 was termination of the system under which judges were removable by the Crown, and under which they were, in the language of Lord Macaulay, not champions of truth and justice, but "greedy and ferocious butchers," eager to satisfy every demand of despotism.
The removable magistrate always dreads removal, and the only way to avoid it is by delivering the judgment which the prosecuting officers desire. The effect is that if a man makes a speech, as Mr. Walsh told you, advocating the Republic—nay, if he utter a word which the police dislike—he is promptly haled before either a drumhead court-martial or one of these resident magistrates and condemned without any chance of appeal to the hideous indignities which have been described so forcibly here to-day. Nothing could illustrate more strikingly the conditions against which Irishmen arc in revolt than this deliberate establishment in Ireland by the English Government of a judicial system so fruitful of abuse that Englishmen themselves rose in revolution to drive it from their own country.
When conditions somewhat similar, though I do not think they were, quite so onerous, existed in Cuba, the chairman of this committee, and I think many others of its members, were quick to insirt that intervention to stop those outrages became a task imposed upon us by our primacy of civilization; that continuance of a government which had become perverted from its natural functions of defending peace and order to perpetrating the very outrages on justice which government is organized to prevent, was an injury to civilization which all the forces of civilization should combine to remove. And we, as chief among those forces, drew the sword and ended that abominable system in Cuba. A worse system exists to-day in Ireland. It can be terminated, as far as we can see now, by no mean? except the influence of this American Republic, and we are here t" protest against any treat}', League of Nations, or whatever it may be called, that will exclude consideration of the monstrous conditions that afflict Ireland from the jurisdiction of the conscience of civilization, of which the Senate of the United States has always been the foremost and best exponent.
I pause for a moment to say that if there be any other Senator who wishes to ask me about present conditions in Ireland I will b<' very glad to answer him. If nobody cares to put a question, I shall proceed to discuss the treaty now before you purely from an American standpoint.
Mr. Chairman, the gentlemen who preceded me have all said, with great force and feeling, that while they are of the Irish race they are of American birth, and that they love above all other things the country in which they were born. I am an Irishman by birth as well as by blood. And the reason I am here is that I do not want the Government whose shelter from my earliest youth I was resolved to seek, whose benefits I have enjoyed, to be emasculated, impamvi
or destroyed, as I believe it will be, if this treaty is ratified. And in saying this I speak not alone for myself—my race is well-nigh run— but for my entire generation and the generations that are to follow. The light that inspired me and millions like me to cross the seas I hope the Senate will not suffer to be extinguished, but that through your action now it will be maintained strong and effulgent for all the children of men throuehout the world.
Mr. Chairman, whether the right of this country to interfere—at least so far as to exert its moral influence—for deliverance of Ireland from conditions that are a scandal to civilization shall be preserved or whether it is to be renounced and destroyed by ratification of this treaty, is not an Irish question. It is not a question affecting solely England's domestic politics, as some gentlemen have contended. It is an international question, because it is a question affecting the peace, and, therefore, the welfare of the entire world, •ludge Cohalan has told you there can be no peace throughout the world until Irish discontent is composed. This is not—as many might say—a mere expression of exaggerated rhetoric. It is the sober, accurate statement of a fact which all history attests.
It is certainly one fact of history which none can dispute that every great war which became general—every one became general by England's entrance into it—and which has scourged the world for the last four centuries, that is to say since the emergence of modern civilization from the wreck of feudalism, has had its beginning in Ireland—every one, without exception.
This last war which has just closed, we all know was caused by the Trerman Emperor's belief that civil commotions in Ireland made 1914 the period when he could strike his long-meditated blow for world dominion, with the strongest hope of success. The great wars of the French Revolution which culminated in the Napoleonic wars, began with representations of the united Irishmen through Wolfe Tone to the revolutionary government in France that the conditions then prevaling in Ireland—brought about by the deliberate recall of Lord Fitzwilnam and the refusal of concessions which had been promised to the Irish people—had made the land ripe for rebellion. The hostile manifestations by the French people and their government which these representations provoked, were the chief causes that led Pitt reluctantly to join the alliance against France. The attempt of Hoche's expedition to land in Ireland, which was frustrated when his ships were blown by a gale out of Bantry Bay in 17%. marked the real beginning of that desperate struggle between England and France, which after ravaging Europe for a generation ended at Waterloo. At the close of the seventeenth century, it was the intervention of Louis XIV in aid of the Irish attempt to maintain •lames II in possession of his crown which brought about the Grand Alliance against him, that afterwards as the war of the Spanish succession plunged Europe in the disastrous conflict that was settled by the peace of Utrecht. The great war between Elizabeth and Plulip II of Spain for control of the seas began with a descent of ■Spanish and Portugese soldiers on the coast of Kerry, who were all killed to a man after they had surrendered to Sir Walter Raleigh, and whose massacre is the only cloud on the fame of that knightliest figure among Elizabethan warriors.
Why is it that every world war, if not actually caused by Irish discontent, has yet made Ireland the theater of its first beginnings t This can not be due to a mere fortuitous combination of circumstances. My purpose is to show that the condition of Ireland has been a constant invitation to every country with a grievance againM England to strike her at that spot where she was believed to be vulnerable, and where she will continue to be vulnerable just so long as the oppressions against which the Irish people have struggled for eight centuries are suffered to exist. So that the Irish question is not a matter that affects England and Ireland alone, and one which therefore can be called domestic. It is one that has affected the peace of the world for four centuries and which will continue to affect it—in the very nature of things—so long as it is permitted to remain an open sore in the side of Christendom. To compose this difficulty anil settle it is a task imposed upon the statesmanship of civilization, and, therefore, it rests peculiarly on your shoulders, Senators, charged as you are at this moment with responsibility for the conditions unhr which peace is to be reestablished throughout the civilized world.
Probably the greatest difficulty hi dealing with the Irish question is to understand just what it is. It has been so misrepresented—and bv the greatest masters of ingenuity in misrepresentation that the world has ever seen—that many men, ordinarily well informed, are in doubt as to just what it is that causes the Irish complaints. We are told that other countries have been conquered as Ireland has been and yet they have long since ceased to complain of the conquest, or even to think about it. We are told that Irish grievances are fanciful not real; that they are not caused by injuries which are actual, but by recollection of ancient injuries springing from laws which have long since been repealed. We are told that Ulster is prosperous and contended while the rest of Ireland is discontented and poor because it feople are improvident, shiftless, idle; and that this demand for rish independence merely embodies—while it disguises—the desire of an improvident, shiftless, idle majority to obtain—and abusethe power of taxation over a thrifty and prosperous Irish minority It is also said that there is a religious question involved; that Ireland's refusal to acknowledge the authority of England is but the intolerance entertained by one religious sect against another—tae disposition of Catholics to oppress and drive Protestants from the country. These, 1 think, are all the grounds on which are based opposition to recognition of the Irish republic. They are set forth in a brief submitted to this committee by certain persons claiming t" speak for Irish Unionists, which I have just been permitted to rwL Now, if these statements are true, if Ireland has been reduced to it» resent condition by the faults or vices of her own people, sympathy >r them would be useless. They are incapable of improvement They must inevitably disappear from the earth which they encumber and discredit. But if the evils which afflict the Irish people be the direct result of laws which have produced intolerable condition*, trui still exist although the laws themselves have been repealed, and if it be true that England has shown she is incapable of doing justice m Ireland, even when a majority of the English people are really ami '-that it should be done, and the English Parliament solemnly resolved to do it, then there can be but one outcome. Either English rale ns Ireland must be ended or the Irish people must be exterminate!.
That is the alternative, I think it is entirely capable of demonstration that the Irish people can not be exterminated, and extermination being impossible, emancipation is imperative.
Let me explain to you why it is that although these oppressive laws have all been repealed, the conditions they produced still continue. All the history of Ireland ever since the first Norman invasion has been an unbroken record of conquests, and seizure of lands—first the devastation of land always followed by confiscation. But neither conquests not confiscation sufficed to keep the country permanently impoverished. From the first landing of Strongbow in 1172 down to the final overthrow of Irish independence by William III, the Irish people after each invasion and devastation restored prosperity with a celerity and completeness that have been marvels to all historians.
Mountjoy, under Elizabeth, reported to the Queen that everything capable of supporting life in Ireland had been burned to the roots, that the whole Irish population had been exterminated, except a few fugitives who had taken refuge in morasses where they could not be reached, but where, for lack of food, they must inevitably starve. And yet in the very next reign Ireland was blooming like a garden. In the time of Charles I the prosperity of Ireland had already awakened the envy and cupidity of Englishmen; but the Irish, with that peculiar sense of loyalty, which is one of their characteristics—often misdirected because carried to excess—having embraced the side of the King, fell under the vengeance of Cromwell. Again the island was devastated with fire and sword. The whole of the land east of the •Shannon was confiscated. The entire native population outside of many thousands who were slain, and other thousands sold into captivity, was transported west of the Shannon to a soil which was believed to be so sterile that it could not afford subsistence to human life. Cromwell's brief statement of his policy was that the Irish must go "to hell or tb Connaught." Well, they went to Connaught, but they did not go to hell [laughter], because there was always one Irish champion whom, some way or other, the British arms could never overcome, ami that was the Irish girl. Any Englishman who received land and settled upon it soon fell under her influence. That was already so clearly apparent in the time of Richard II that he passed the statute of Kilkenny forbidding any Englishman who had received land in Ireland from marrying an Irish woman. But the Irish girl was too strong for statutes. She continued to marry the English settler in the teeth of all prohibitions, and the offspring of those marriages were the strongest Irish patriots.
Although the land had been laid waste with a fury hardly ever paralleled in the annals of mankind by the Englisn Parliamentary forces, first under Cromwell and after him under lreton and Ludlow, yet when William III in the next generation faced a patriot Irish army, a large part of it was composed of the sons of those Ironsides to whom Cromwell granted land in Ireland. After that dreadful Cromwellian devastation the recoverv of her prosperity by Ireland in the reign of Charles II is declared by Macaulay to be the marvel of all historv. It is acknowledged even by Fronde—who will not be sus
fected of any partiality toward Ireland—that in the reign of Charles I practically the entire transportation of goods b}'sea from the Old World to the New was carried on in Irish bottoms. Irish cattle and horses commanded the highest prices in English markets, and Irish woolen products were considered to be the very finest in the world.