QUOTES BY JOHN MARTIN
When the famine began rearing its ugly head in Ireland in 1845, John Martin wrote a series of letters and articles to the "Newry Telegraph", the newspaper of the town nearest his own Loughorne, Co. Down. While they are very lengthy, for the most part, they do contain some absolute gems, which are reprinted here (courtesy of the British Library):
 "…the Legislature ought to have passed an Act closing our ports against the export of provisions from Ireland; and, at the same time, opened them free for import. Thus the terrors of the people, driving them in some places to acts of desperation, would have been prevented, by the certainty of the presence of food in the country. And, by employing our own provisions, the Nation would save the very heavy cost of freight, outwards and inwards, as well as the profits of corn speculators, who, for the most part are English. And valuable employment would thus be provided for our population, in curing provisions, manufacturing meal and flour, manufacturing wool, and hides, and tallow, &c."
 "Is it a fact that Ireland is now exporting food, to the value of many millions sterling, while famine threatens millions of the Irish people? If so, how do [my countrymen] explain this perplexing anomaly?"
 "The resident landlords of Ireland…are engaged…in endeavoring to alleviate the heavy distress spread over our unhappy island. …Our feeling of sympathetic pain in the distress we witness is followed by sympathetic pleasure in the relief we are able to communicate. But, alas for our wretched land! …Throughout the approaching Session of the Imperial Parliament there will, doubtless, be continual debates on the condition of Ireland, and we may expect a large increase in the number of 'comprehensive measures' annually passed for the amelioration of our condition. …Such measures, it appears to me, [should] include the application of Irish labor to Irish resources, for the supply of Irish wants; and [should] provide that Ireland shall have the benefit of her own capital and her own labor."
 "I cannot remove from my mind the painful impression that one chief reason why thousands of my countrymen are now dying of hunger, is the fact, that a large amount of the food produced in Ireland, this season, has been sent away in exchange for those very 'home manufactures' (that is for ENGLISH manufactures), as they are called. …By all means, let English enterprise, skill and industry enjoy the richest rewards and the highest prosperity they can honestly attain. Let England continue to maintain her vast population in affluence, by employing them at every kind of productive work afforded by the circumstances of that country. Let her still dazzle the world with displaying the treasures of her boundless wealth. But let her maintain her prosperity, at her own cost. Are we bound to sacrifice the comforts-ay, the subsistence,--of millions of our people, in order to assist in supporting the fabric of her grandeur?…I think it is no part of our duty or business to regard the maintenance of English trade as essential, and the subsistence of our own people as secondary in importance."
 "I do not believe that Englishmen feel disposed to act dishonestly or even ungenerously towards the people of Ireland. I believe the people of England, as individuals, to be, according to their judgment, honest and upright in their dealings, to as high a degree as any other people in the world. And their liberal subscriptions for the relief of Irish distress are, just now, a convincing evidence of their constitutional charity and humanity. [But,] Irish income presented yearly to England, under the designation of absentee rents, is considerably upwards of L4,000,000. …And thousands on thousands of our fellow-countrymen have perished this year of hunger-not that our soil produced too small a supply of food for our entire population-but, because they had not money enough to buy the food. And so it was carried away-in eleven months, 1,706,000 quarters of grain, and butter, beef, pork, mutton, and other provisions, beyond count-to England, where one hundred millions of absentee rents are funded, where our yearly surplus revenue of one million sterling, equal to 25 millions more, is payable. The food raised on the Irish soil has been carried away, and, therefore, the Irish people die of hunger…. …close the Irish ports against the departure of our provisions, and open them wide for the entrance of foreign supplies. This course was taken by every free State in circumstances of danger approaching ours. France and Belgium, at the very commencement of harvest, prohibited exports of food, and removed all duties upon imports. Had our rulers taken the same course with Ireland, can there be a doubt in the mind of a rational Irishman as to the result-so far as the lives of our countrymen were concerned? Would one of the wretched victims of Skibbereen or Killale been sacrificed? Not one! …had the exports of our provisions been prohibited at the 1st of August last…there would have been no gigantic system of unproductive and useless works, no demoralization of our laboring population, no confiscation of our land, no need of alms from any other country, and no deaths from starvation!"
 "Few readers of 'The Telegraph' can have perused the details given in your paper of yesterday, respecting the progress of our Irish famine and pestilence, without horror. Villages inhabited by breathing skeletons, cabins occupied by corpses for terms of seven and of fourteen days, fields and gardens (pressed into service as graveyards) exhibiting portions of mutilated human bodies, 'partly eaten by dogs!' …The same two columns…which contain the horrible and disgusting narratives…afford a sad but instructive comparison of our imports and our exports of food under our present unprecedented system. English benevolence has sent to the famine-struck Irish population of Schull, one ship freighted with 90 tons of bread stuff; Irish trade has sent to London, the richest city in the world, in one day, sixteen ships laden with food, the food (let us call it) of 70,000 of the Irish population for one month. No wonder our people 'are dying in hundreds daily,' of starvation. …We are buying American provisions to save some of our people from perishing. We are sending to America many thousands of our youth, picked men out of our laboring and industrial population. Ireland lies nearer than any other European country to America, directly between England and America. Yet the Irish course of trade sends our imports of food past our shores (sacrificing above a week's sail in time and above L1 a ton in freights alone) to England; and sends our exported youth and enterprise by way of England as a return cargo for the food ships. Truly a strange course of trace, and altogether an incomprehensible traffic! …Let [Ireland] import the bread stuffs direct from America to Ireland, thus saving from 25 to 50 per cent, in cost, and so much precious time. Let an Act of Parliament prohibit the further export of our provisions of all kinds."
 "[It is] my solemn conviction that the horrible destruction of our people now in progress would have been impossible in similar circumstance under any, the most stupid, the most corrupt NATIVE Legislature and Government-that there is no escape for us from the utter ruin now impending, save through National Independence. …Is it not demonstrable, that these wretched Whigs might have prevented our famine? And is it not the horrible truth, that they have permitted our people, the subjects of the British crown, to perish in hundreds of thousands? May God forgive them! I cannot! …I conclude by reiterating my protest against the whole system of paid inspectors of finance, paid inspectors of unions, paid secretaries, paid treasurers, paid officials of every complexion, for the administration of relief. …I would insist that all the officers, from the Commissioners to us poor members of committees, should be unpaid. There are hundreds of resident Irish aristocracy and gentry who would gladly undertake and perform the duties of the most complicated system that Whig ingenuity could devise…do the work better than strangers… [and] save a prodigious outlay of public money." (in the "Newry Telegraph" Newspaper)
John Martin also wrote for the "United Irishman" newspaper in 1848. This was John Mitchel's newspaper. Some quotes from his various letters in that newspaper follow:
"I never contemplated our Confederation making war upon the English government for the recovery of our independence…. The right policy of the Confederation I have always regarded, and I still regard, as a home policy, and, therefore, a peace policy. What we want is, to get an efficient majority of our countrymen to resolve upon establishing national freedom, and to do it…. I do not think so meanly of the good sense of the English people, as to expect that they would permit their government to make war upon the Irish nation. I feel assured that our national independence can be vindicated without the firing of a musket."
"I regard the right to bear arms as an inalienable right of citizenship. … I can perceive no just reason for disarming one class of my countrymen, nor any reason at all for such a procedure or design on the part of the disarming classes to rob and oppress the class disarmed."
"For want of our national independence, famine and plague have been slaughtering our countrymen and our friends by hundreds of thousands. Scenes of havoc have been enacted in Ireland this last year…Famine and plague are still raging among our people, and are like to be permanent institutions in our society." (in Sillard, "The Life and Letters of John Martin.")
In a letter to John Mitchel, after Mitchel's arrest in 1848, John Martin wrote the following:
"I hope those who know me personally know how devotedly I love peace. My temperament and my moral sentiments are altogether adverse to war; and I confess that I want both the nerve and the ambition that qualify a man to be a soldier. …above all things, I would pray for Irish freedom and prosperity without a bloody struggle. …But it is plain that the only arguments they [the British Government] can understand are arms in our people's hands. And let us remember, and let the world know that we seek peace and liberty and our own rights. We ask nothing from England-nothing. We desire no injury to the English people, or to any people. We do not want to rob the English; therefore, we do not desire to 'govern' then. We want peace with all the world, and, therefore, we must have justice; the only lasting word of peace. …Our hatred towards the English oligarchy, and towards the Irish oligarchy, that act as their jackals, will cease as soon as they cease to rob and murder us. …We would most gladly have a peaceful revolution, so that our people might at once be set to work, to make Irish industrial resources supply Irish wants. May history never have to record the bloody horrors that must characterize an Irish war of independence!" (in Sillard, "The Life and Letters of John Martin.")
In the first issue of his newspaper "The Irish Felon" in June 1848, John Martin wrote the following:
"I do not love political agitation for its own sake. At best I regard it as a necessary evil; and if I were not convinced that my countrymen are determined on vindicating their rights, and that they really intend to free themselves, I would at once withdraw from the struggle and leave my native land forever. I could not live in Ireland and derive my means as a member of the Irish community without feeling a citizen's responsibility in Irish public affairs. Those responsibilities involve the guilt of national robbery and murder-of a system which arrays the classes of our people against each other's prosperity and very lives, like beasts of prey, or rather like famishing sailors on a wreck-of the debasement and moral ruin of a people endowed by God with surpassing resources for the attainment of human happiness and human dignity.
"I cannot be loyal to a system of meanness, terror and corruption, although it usurp the title and assume the form of 'government.' …To gain permission [under the British Imperial system] for the Irish people to care for their own lives, their happiness and dignity-to abolish the political conditions which compel the classes of our people to hate and to murder each other, and which compel the Irish people to hate the very name of the English-to end the reign of fraud, perjury, corruption, and 'government butchery,' and to make law, order, and peace possible in Ireland, the "Irish Felon" takes its place amongst the combatants in the holy war now waging in this island against foreign tyranny. In conducting it my weapons shall be-the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God!" (in O'Sullivan, "The Young Irelanders" and Sillard, "The Life and Letters of John Martin" and in "The Irish Felon.")
After his arrest and confinement at Newgate Prison, John Martin was allowed to continue to publish the newspaper and write articles for it. (After the 5th issue it was destroyed by the government.) In the 3rd issue, published while he was in prison, he wrote:
"The 'British Constitutional' doctrine, that every accused man is innocent, in the eye of the law, till a jury find him guilty, is very good for Britons. The 'freedom of the press' is also a very excellent institution for Britons. But in Ireland, every many you think fit to accuse ought, by the act of accusation, to be pronounced guilty, and to be treated accordingly." (in Sillard, "The Life and Letters of John Martin" and in "The Irish Felon.")
In the last issue of his newspaper, "The Irish Felon", published in July 1848 while John Martin was in Newgate Prison, he wrote the following. This article was the only article which formed the basis for his final conviction.
"Brother Irishmen,--I address you it may be for the last time. While I have yet the means and opportunity of communicating with you, let me offer you my advice as to the position you ought to take with regard to the proclamations [to surrender your arms] directed against you and against Ireland by the foreign tyrants. My advice is, that you stand to your arms. Stand to your arms! Attack no man or men-offend no man or men; offer forgiveness and peace and brotherhood to all your countrymen-even those of the foreign faction; be calm and patient with the very officials of English tyranny, but stand to your arms!-defend your lives-vindicate your rights as men and the rights of our dear native land.
"Oh! as you have the spirit of men to revolt against our country's shame and slavery-the hearts of men to feel for our people's misery-as you love justice and hate oppression-as you love and fear the God of whose righteous decrees British rule in Ireland is a dire violation; stand firm and yield not an inch of ground to the threats and rage of our alarmed tyrants! Let them menace you with the hulks and the gibbet for daring to speak or write your love of Ireland. Let them threaten to mow you down with grape-shot, as they massacred your kindred with famine and plague. Spurn their brutal 'Acts of Parliament'-trample upon their lying proclamations-fear them not!
"The work you have undertaken is to overthrow and utterly destroy English dominion in Ireland [in favor of Irish dominion in Ireland]. That work must be done. It must be done at any risk, at any cost, at any sacrifice. Though hundreds of us be torn from our families, and from the free air, to be shut up in the enemy's dungeons, or sent in chains to his felon islands-though thousands of us be butchered by the enemy's cannon and bayonets, and our streets and native fields be purpled with our blood-never shall the struggle for Irish freedom cease but with the destruction of that monstrous system of base and murderous tyranny, or with the utter extermination of the Irish people! But the God of Justice and Mercy will fight in your defence. Think of the famine massacre-of the famine murders perpetrated every day-of the thousands of families driven, houseless and desperate, to ruin-of the millions of your kindred compelled to a life of degradation, vice, and crime-excluded from all the benefits of civilization, and exposed to all its evils-children born into misery, for want of food stunted in their growth of both mind and body-a race, whose normal condition is disease of mind and body-more wretched than savages for wanting the happy ignorance of savages! Think of the canker and hatred between class and class, and sect and sect, which is continually gnawing at the heart of our nation! Think of all the shame, and suffering, and sin of Irish slavery! And when the 'Government' gang, who have done all this wickedness, prepare to assail you with their butchering knives, that when you are slaughtered, they may carry on their work of desolation undisturbed-stand to your arms!-resist to the death!-better a hundred thousand bloody deaths than to leave Ireland another year disarmed, cowed, and defenceless, to the mercy of that fiendish despotism." (in O'Sullivan, "The Young Irelanders" and in Sillard, "The Life and Times of John Martin" and in "The Irish Felon.")
When "Honest" John Martin was convicted of Treason/Felony, this was the speech he gave in court. No higher proof could be given of his purity of purpose and goodness of heart. He was asked to say "why sentence should not be passed upon him" and he replied thus:
"MY LORDS: I have no imputation to cast upon the bench, neither have I anything of unfairness towards myself to charge the jury with. I think the judges desired to do their duty fairly, as upright judges and men, and that the twelve men who were put into the box, not to try, but to convict me, voted honestly according to their prejudices. I have no personal enmity against the sheriff, sub-sheriff, or any other gentleman connected with the arrangements of the jury panel, nor against the Attorney-General, or any other person engaged in the proceedings called my trial. But, my lords, I consider I have not yet been tried! There have been certain formalities carried on here for three days, but I have not been put upon my country, according to the constitution said to exist in Ireland!
"Twelve of my countrymen, 'indifferently chosen,' have not been put into the jury-box to try me, but twelve men, who, I believe, have been selected by the parties who represent the crown, for the purpose of convicting, and not of trying me.
"Every person knows that what I have stated is the fact; and I would represent to the judges, most respectfully, that they, as honourable judges, and as upright citizens, ought to see that the administration of justice in this country is above suspicion. I have nothing more to say with regard to the trial; but I would be thankful to the court for permission to say a few words after sentence is passed."
"Then, my lords, permit me to say, that admitting the narrow and confined constitutional doctrines, which I have heard preached in this court, to be right, I am not guilty of the charge according to this Act! In the article of mine, on which the jury framed their verdict, which was written in prison, and published in the last number of my paper, what I desired to do was this, to advise and encourage my countrymen to keep their arms; because that is their inalienable right, which no Act of Parliament, no proclamation can take away from them. It is, I repeat, their inalienable right. I advised them to keep their arms; and further, I advised them to use their arms in their OWN defence against all assailants-even assailants that might come to attack them unconstitutionally and improperly, using the Queen's name as their sanction.
"My object in all my proceeding has been simply to establish the independence of Ireland for the benefit of all the people of Ireland-noblemen, clergymen, judges, professional men-in fact, all Irishmen. I sought that object first, because I thought it was our right; because I thought, and think still, national independence was the right of the people of this country. And secondly, I admit, that being a man who loves retirement, I never would have engaged in politics did I not think it necessary to do all in my power to make an end of the horrible scenes the country presents-the pauperism, and starvation, and crime, and vice, and the hatred of all classes against each other. I thought there should be an end to that horrible system, which while it lasted, gave me no peace of mind, for I could not enjoy anything in my country, so long as I saw my countrymen forced to be vicious, forced to hate each other, and degraded to the level of paupers and brutes. This is the reason I engaged in politics.
"I acknowledge, as the Solicitor-General has said, that I was but a weak assailant of the English power. I am not a good writer, and I am no orator. I had only two weeks' experience in conducting a newspaper until I was put in jail. But I am satisfied to direct the attention of my countrymen to everything I have ever written, and to rest my character on a fair examination of what I have put forward as my opinions. I shall say nothing in vindication of my motives but this, that ever fair and honest man, no matter how prejudiced he may be, if he calmly considers what I have written and said, will be satisfied that my motives were pure and honourable. I have nothing more to say."
The Chief Baron, in passing sentence, alluded to the jury's "recommendation to mercy."
Mr. Martin: "I cannot condescend to accept mercy where I believe I have been morally right. I want justice, not mercy."
In a letter to Mrs. Williams in Tasmania in August 1854, John Martin wrote some of his feelings about the British Government that had sent him to that land:
"The British Government holds Ireland in subjection, and by the means always employed in such cases-force, fraud, and corruption. …the Irish have been so long oppressed, so vitiated and debased by the worst kind of slavery, affecting them as citizens, as members of society, as individuals, that the British are generally able to keep them in subjection by the operation of their vices alone, and without resorting to such means as the world calls scandalous or shocking. The way the British Government now takes for getting rid of such Irish patriots as it considers dangerous, I think very shocking and utterly abominable. …I mean the fraudulent administration of justice-the packing of juries. …I say all this without one thought of ill-will to the British. Of course, I would gladly give my life to drive their Government out of my country; but I bear no malice against any British individual, not even against the officials whose 'duty' it was to pack my jury, or him whose 'duty' it was to sentence me to transportation as a felon." (in Brown, "The Clyde Company Letters", volume 6)
In 1861, William Smith O'Brien and John Martin published several letters in various newspapers (which were later published in book form) regarding their differences of opinion about the possibility of a French Invasion to help Ireland secure her political freedom. Some of "Honest" John's comments on that matter are thus:
"…it is sore against my will to differ from you so seriously, and because I have no relish for any political task except that of trying to promote a union of all those of our fellow-countrymen who in their hearts desire the freedom of Ireland. I have never pretended a leading place among Irish patriots, …I would rather agree with you than any other Nationalist in Ireland. And when we differ, I feel bound to examine your opinions and arguments, and to explain my own as carefully as I can."
"…England will never give up her twenty millions a year of Irish plunder, until she be compelled by foreign intervention. It may not, indeed, prove necessary for the foreign armies to enter Ireland. Canada has obtained self government, in consideration of her having such a powerful neighbour as the United States. …what every patriot in Ireland ought to labour at is, to bring about a good understanding between all ranks and sects, and combine all for that cause in whose success all have a common interest… But we must not ignore the sad fact that, at present, the great majority of our middle and highest classes are either apathetic or hostile to the national cause. …I think that the condition of my country is more wretched under the English dominion than it could be under the dominion of France, or Russia, or Turkey, or any other foreign power, yet I would not lift a finger to obtain a change of masters. Independence is worth all sacrifices; but I would not care to contend for gaining a new master who would insult and plunder me somewhat less than the old one.
"The Irish Volunteers [in our own Revolution of 1782] did actually extort from England a recognition of our national independence, though not a foreign soldier had come into Ireland to our assistance, and no foreign government had so much as remonstrated with England in our behalf. It was, indeed, a spectacle of unexampled happiness-that of a nation which had conquered her rights, merely by appearing in arms to demand them, with no bleeding wounds to staunch, no children slain to mourn for. The Protestants of Ireland might well look back upon that spectacle with pride, as a tribute paid to the patriotism and virtue of their fathers. But, alas! our Protestant fellow-countrymen of the present day, show no disposition to emulate the patriotic spirit of the Volunteers. The laws that bind this kingdom now are made and administered by a far other body than the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland; but where are the Protestant gentlemen to pass Dungannon Resolutions? And yet, even now, if our Protestant nobility and gentry would take the part of country, as their fathers did in 1782-if they would respond, as their Volunteer fathers did, to the calls of their duty, their interest, and honour-they would be welcomed by acclamation as the leaders of the Irish people, and, with the powerful sympathy of America and France, they might lead Ireland to independence without a bloody struggle.
"England will never commit to such a blunder again as that of permitting the Irish people to organize themselves into a National Guard. English statesmen know well that to do so would be to unite Protestants and Catholics, nobles and peasants, with one bond of patriotism. …I would …rather contemplate such a condition of things in Ireland, as might enable us to wrest self-government from the English without bloodshed and without the danger of civil war. A repeal of the Union would satisfy all my wishes for Ireland, and it would satisfy the wishes of 99 out of every hundred of the people of Ireland. …The peasantry cannot go on, year after year, giving patriotic votes at the peril of eviction; and the middle classes cannot continually sacrifice their prospects of professional advancement. So long as the aristocracy are upon the side of England, it is dangerous for the professional classes even to acknowledge their patriotic desires. …And consideration of this kind may explain how it has come to pass that, whereas, up to 1848, five-sixths of the people of Ireland, were declared nationalists, and among them a very large proportion of the middle classes, now there are very few members of parliament, very few mayors, and but few lawyers, doctors, or merchants that publicly profess themselves Repealers. Have they changed their mind as to the need that Ireland has of self-government? No; but they have lost hope of obtaining repeal by constitutional action, they have lost hope of a successful insurrection of the Irish people, they expect nothing from England's justice, and they cannot operate upon her fears, and therefore they turn their eyes to the foreign enemies of England, and secretly pray for deliverance through them." (in "Correspondence Between John Martin and William Smith O'Brien.)
Regarding quarrels between those on both sides of the fence of Irish Nationalism, John Martin wrote the following:
"I never quarrelled-I never will quarrel with any man for avowing honest convictions different than those which impress my own mind." (in Touhill, "William Smith O'Brien and His Irish Revolutionary Companions in Penal Exile.")
In a speech in the United States to the Young Men's Catholic Association of New Jersey in 1870, John Martin said the following:
"It is not revolution or change of constitutional forms that Ireland needs, or that the people of Ireland desire. It is simply Ireland for the Irish; for all the Irish of every race and creed and class-for tenants and landlords-for Catholics and Protestants-for poor and rich. It is not new confiscations and proscriptions. It is not to injure England. It is only to prevent her from any more injuring Ireland. The whole Irish race, at home and abroad, are resolved that Ireland shall have her rights, which wrong nobody. Moderation and firmness in our national demand, courage and prudence in sustaining it, will, before long, by cooperation of the Irish at home and abroad, obtain the national freedom of Ireland. God grant it!" (in Sillard, "The Life and Letters of John Martin.")
In January 1871, "Honest" John Martin was elected to Parliament representing Co. Meath. He gave many speeches in Parliament between then and his death in 1875. Some of his speeches are quoted next:
[May 1871, on the 3rd reading of the Coercion Bill] "…the people of Ireland never asked this Parliament to take charge of their affairs. The Irish people have never consented-and I believe they never will consent-that this Parliament should have charge of their affairs. No doubt the Irish people submit to your laws under the pressure of force; and so they have always obeyed the laws imposed upon them by this Parliament. But the vast majority of Irish people, like myself, will never acknowledge the right of any authority to make laws binding in Ireland, other than that of the Queen, Lords, and Commons of Ireland assembled in free Parliament. …Let the Right Hon. Gentleman suspend for one year the system of illegality by which Ireland is governed. Let the jury-packing system, for instance, which has ruled in all political trials in Ireland in my time, be suspended. Let the constitutional rights of the people be allowed to prevail in Ireland as they do in England and Scotland. Let the Irish people be entitled to have arms, to learn the use of arms, to form themselves into voluntary companies, as the English and Scotch do. Let us have a free Press in Ireland for one year. Let this new system prevail in Ireland for a single year and, the actual system of illegality be suspended so long, and then may be seen whether the Right Hon. Gentleman with his coercive and conciliatory policy judges aright, or I with my 'antiquated views.' …The people of Ireland are, as I have already said, quite willing to be good neighbours and friends of the English; but they never will consent to remain your subjects-never! It would be wiser for the English people to make friends with the Irish. The Irish, especially the Catholic Irish people, are the most inoffensive, the most gentle, the most forgiving, and the most moral population in the three kingdoms." (in Sillard, "The Life and Letters of John Martin.")
[April 1871, in a letter to Mitchel] "The Parliament was such a bore to me, and the idea that I ought, that I must, sometimes speak in it and say and keep saying things to make the men in it hate me worse than hell, was such an irritation and fever to my nerves." (in Cowan, "An Ancient Irish Parish Past and Present being the Parish of Donaghmore, County Down.")
[Feb. 1875, on the election of Mitchel as MP for Tipperary and Disraeli's motion for a new vote on the basis that Mitchel was an undischarged felon.] "In 1845, the potato blight became very destructive, not only in Ireland, but all over Western Europe. But it was only in Ireland, under English rule, that the potato blight resulted in famine. All the countries that had Home Rule were able to bear the loss of potatoes without a single death by starvation. Those countries, as well as Ireland, had great resources independent of the potato crop. Not one of those countries had greater facilities than Ireland in ports, canals, railroads, and macadamized roads for receiving food and distributing it from place to place. And yet, under English rule, the potato blight in Ireland resulted in famine; famine raged for six consecutive years, and the population of Ireland became less by about 2,500,000. Part of that decrease was owing to emigration, but the deaths in Ireland from actual starvation, and pestilence directly produced by starvation, amounted to 1,029,552. The emigration to America during the six years of famine was 1,180,409, and the deaths among those emigrants within twelve months after they left Ireland were 25 per cent in the year 1847-the most pestilential of the six years. On the average of the six consecutive famine years, the deaths among those emigrants within twelve months after their removal from Ireland were fully 17 per cent; and the emigration of the six years having been 1,180,409, the famine deaths thus amounted among the emigrants to 200,668. This number added to the excess of deaths in Ireland (1,029,552) makes the famine slaughter of the six years to have been 1,230,220. The population of Ireland in 1845, at the commencement of the famine was about 8,500,000; and thus is appeared that about one out of seven of the Irish population had been slaughtered in six years by famine. A famine lasting for six consecutive years was never before heard of in the world. There is no account of such a famine in ancient or modern history. It was only possible in Ireland and under English rule. In every one of those six years there was produced by the Irish people, and upon the Irish soil, double the amount of food required for the consumption of all the population. …Under circumstances such as these, and believing that the national Irish Parliament and Government of which Ireland had been deprived by the Union of 1800 could not be restored with the consent of England, Mr. Mitchel became an advocate for separation and revolution. …and that the only hope for Ireland was separation from the English Crown. He thought it better that the Irish people, disarmed and weak as they were, and their country in a state of military occupation by England, should die by fighting than endure famine any longer. I was in Ireland at the time. I witnessed the famine and saw all its miseries. It burned its marks into my breast, and they can never be totally removed. …Years after suppressing a rebellion in Canada, [England] has seen fit to grant Home Rule to Canada, and yet England does not feel herself at all the worse because the Canadians are masters in their own land, tax themselves, spend the proceeds of their taxes, and make their own laws. The interests of the British Empire are not considered to be one whit injured by the Home Rule of Canada. Besides Home Rule has been also granted to the Australian colonies…. …the colonies have been allowed Home Rule, and it is denied to Ireland. …The common sense of the English people will before long convince them that Home Rule in Ireland can harm England no more than Home Rule in Canada or Australia."
Compiled by Suzanne Ballard, April 2000.