The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero
The Irish-American story, with all its twists and triumphs, is told through the improbable life of one man. A dashing young orator during the Great Famine of the 1840s, in which a million of his Irish countrymen died, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony. He escaped and six months later was heralded in the streets of New York — the revolutionary hero, back from the dead, at the dawn of the great Irish immigration to America.
man who finished his sentences in print. “Now, Mac,” he said a few days later, “I have a private matter of my own which I would like you to attend to at your convenience.” For a brief moment, Meagher looked as if he were going to cry. McCarter never saw him more vulnerable—a man of war trying to hold back his innate sentimentality. The general opened a small tin box and produced several pages of his spiky handwriting and a blank book bound in leather. “It is a poem of thirty-seven or
any other American conflict. For many of the poor Irish cursing in the humidity on July 13, the price of freedom was equal to a year’s wages. For the well-off, it was a trifling. One of the New Yorkers who had hired a substitute to fill his place in the army was a philanthropist and active Republican—Theodore Roosevelt Sr. The decision haunted his son Teddy; the guilt would roll over into another generation of family warriors trying to make up for the missed call to duty. Newly freed blacks were
hundred miles or so. Meagher tried to hold down lunch with Baker inside the cooling refuge of his home, the finest in Fort Benton, with its whitewashed, three-foot-thick walls and timbered, rough-hewn beams overhead. The merchant offered Meagher blackberry wine as a palliative. At midday, a well-dressed man with a pointed beard poked his head in the door, acting on a rumor that had rumbled through the river port. “General Meagher?” It was Wilbur Sanders. The vigilante leader had just returned
Ross, using his voice in London the same way he used his pen in Dublin—advocating Irish independence. Disgusted at British intransigence, he moved to Australia in 1856. He rose to become the premier of Victoria and the speaker of the Legislative Assembly—a popular and dashing figure among the large population of Irish whose families had been taken to the penal colony in chains. Sir Charles Gavan Duffy was knighted in 1873 by the very monarch, Queen Victoria, who had jailed him in his youth. His
winter chill of his room at the Metropolitan just before leaving on a months-long lecture tour. He trembled. His instinct was to gush. “My dear, dear Miss Townsend,” he began. Meeting her was like waking from a bad dream, he wrote, snapping him out of the purposeless life. She left him breathless. More surprising, she left him speechless. But these words were mush, the residual drag of the Stonyhurst schoolboy. Who was the Meagher who wanted the hand of a Townsend? He had confessed, days