Friday, August 18, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Thomas Francis Meagher (1823 – 1867)


Irish nationalist, a Union Army general during the American Civil War and an American politician.
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Thomas Francis Meagher
In this assembly, every political school has its teachers — every creed has its adherents — and I may safely say, that this banquet is the tribute of United Ireland to the representative of American benevolence. Being such, I am at once reminded of the dinner which took place after the battle of Saratoga, at which Gates and Burgoyne — the rival soldiers — sat together. Strange scene! Ireland, the beaten and the bankrupt, entertains America, the victorious and the prosperous! Stranger still! The flag of the Victor decorates this hail — decorates our harbour — not, indeed, in triumph, but in sympathy — not to commemorate the defeat, but to predict the resurrection, of a fallen people! One thing is certain — we are sincere upon this occasion. There is truth in this compliment. For the first time in her career, Ireland has reason to be grateful to a foreign power. Foreign power, sir! Why should I designate that country a "foreign power," which has proved itself our sister country? England, they sometimes say, is our sister country. We deny the relationship — we discard it. We claim America as our sister, and claiming her as such, we have assembled here this night. Should a stranger, viewing this brilliant scene inquire of me, why it is that, amid the desolation of this day — whilst famine is in the land — whilst the hearse-plumes darken the summer scenery of the island, whilst death sows his harvest, and the earth teems not with the seeds of life, but with the seeds of corruption — should he inquire of me, why it is, that, amid this desolation, we hold high festival, hang out our banners, and thus carouse — I should reply, "Sir, the citizens of Dublin have met to pay a compliment to a plain citizen of America, which they would not pay — 'no, not for all the gold in Venice' — to the minister of England."
Meagher quotes
We now look into history with the generous pride of the nationalist, not with the cramped prejudice of the partisan. We do homage to Irish valour, whether it conquers on the walls of Derry, or capitulates with honour before the ramparts of Limerick; and, sir, we award the laurel to Irish genius, whether it has lit its flames within the walls of old Trinity, or drawn its inspiration from the sanctuary of Saint Omer’s. Acting in this spirit, we shall repair the errors and reverse the mean condition of the past. If not, we perpetuate the evil that has for so many years consigned this Country to the calamities of war and the infirmities of vassalage, "We must tolerate each other," said Henry Grattan, the inspired preacher of Irish nationality — he whose eloquence, as Moore has described it, was the very music of Freedom — "We must tolerate each other, or we must tolerate the common enemy..."
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