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Letter sent to the Foreign Office in 1916, commenting on the effect of British policies in Ireland on opinions in the USA
(Catalogue ref: CAB 37/150/8)
  • This letter was sent to the British Foreign Office in June 1916, two months after the Easter Rising in April 1916. It is likely that the writer was an Irishman from a Unionist background. This is why he was concerned about the views being expressed towards Britain.
  • In April 1916, during Easter Week, Republicans took over the centre of Dublin. They took the British forces completely by surprise. It took a week of fighting to get them to surrender. The centre of the city was wrecked and many civilians were killed or injured in the fighting.
  • After the rising, the British executed 15 of the leaders. The only senior commander who survived was Eamon de Valera. The executions caused outrage. The British regarded these men as traitors, but many Irish people saw them as prisoners of war. They resented Irish men being executed for treason to the British Crown.
  • The British took other rebels prisoner and rounded up people all over Ireland whom they suspected of being rebels. In total, this was 1,841 people. The British also put Ireland under military law with strict restrictions on people's freedom to move around the country.
  • Historians disagree about how much support the extremists had before the Rising. However, they generally agree that the actions of the British after the Rising made people in Ireland bitter and greatly increased support for Sinn Fein and the extreme Nationalists.
  • As this letter shows, the British actions made them deeply unpopular in America, where there was a large Irish community. This meant that United States politicians became concerned, because many of them represented the Irish Americans in the big cities.
  • The UIL was the United Irish League. This organisation helped Irish people to find work, helped them if they were ill or out work etc.
  • Clann na Gael was the American branch of the Fenians - extreme Republicans.
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