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Report of a meeting of Irish Republicans in the USA in 1865
(Catalogue ref: PRO 30/22/39)
  • This extract comes from a report in an American newspaper published in 1865.
  • The report describes a meeting of men who were opposed to British rule in Ireland. Most of them were Irish Republicans, usually called Fenians (after a mythical army in Ireland's distant past).
  • Ireland was England's first overseas colony. The first serious attempts to settle English people in Ireland came in the 1500s, but expanded in the 1600s.
  • Ireland was a troublesome colony for England. The majority of Irish were Roman Catholic and refused to accept the English Protestant faith.
  • From the 1700s there were a steady stream of emigrants from Ireland to America. The first emigrants were mostly Presbyterian Protestants who were discriminated against by Anglican Protestants.
  • From the 1840s the majority of the emigrants were Catholics. Many left as a result of the disastrous famine that devastated Ireland in the 1840s. However, the emigration continued for the rest of the 19th century.
  • Many emigrants went to Canada as it was cheaper to get there than the USA. Many Irish settlers settled down in Canada, especially in the big cities. They tended to become loyal Canadian citizens.
  • Others travelled to the USA. They joined large Irish communities in the big American cities. As a whole, these communities were hostile to British rule in Ireland.
  • The Fenians actually attacked Canada on several occasions in the 1850s and 1860s, but their attacks were beaten off by British troops.
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