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(To French Chamber 20th November, 1917):
“The splendid victories of the last few weeks * * * are the first sheaves of the harvest of great rewards the chief of which will be to deliver the world from an oppression of implacable brutality and at one stroke to throw open the paths of progress to all the permanent centres of human civilization. The supreme obstacle to the establishment of right among men is about to disappear amid the shouts of victory which it is our duty to turn into a triumph of humanity. ***"
"* * * The sole reward they ask is to collaborate with all peoples of just conscience in solving the problems of lofty and social justice which will be the generous fruit of the grandest victory of all ages.
* * *
M. POINCARE, President of the French Republic, January 18th, 1919, opening the Peace Conference:
"* * * While the conflict was gradually extending over the entire surface of the earth the clanking of chains was heard here and there, and captive nationalities from the depths of their age-long gaols
out to us for help. * * * The Jugo-Slavs, the Armenians, the Syrians, the Lebanese, the Arabs, all the oppressed peoples, all the victims, long helpless or resigned, of great historical deeds of injustice, all the martyrs of the past, all the outraged consciences, all the strangled liberties rëvived at the clash of our arms and turned towards us, as their natural defenders. Thus the war gradually attained the fullness of its first significance, and became, in the fullest sense of the term, a crusade of humanity for Right; and if anything can console us in part at least, for the losses we have suffered, it is assuredly the thought that our victory is also the victory of Right. * * *
66* * * And in the light of those truths you intend to accomplish your mission. You will therefore seek nothing but justice, “justice that has no favorites,” justice in territorial problems, justice in financial problems, justice in economic problems
"*** What justice banishes is the dream of conquest and imperialism, contempt for national will, the arbitrary exchange of provinces between states as though peoples were but articles of furniture or pawns in a game. The time is no more when diplomatists could meet to redraw with authority the map of empires on the corner of a table. If you are to remake the map of the world it is in the name of the peoples ***
"* * * As it is to have for its essential aim to prevent, as far as possible the renewal of wars it will, above all, seek to gain respect for the peace which you will have established, and will find it the less difficult to maintain in proportion, as this peace will in itself imply greater realities of justice and safer guarantees of stability.
“By establishing this new order of things you will meet the aspiration of humanity, which, after the frightful convulsions of these bloodstained years, ardently wishes to feel itself protected by a union of free peoples against the ever-possible revivals of primitive savagery. An immortal glory will attach to the names of the nations and the men who have desired to cooperate in this grand work in faith and brotherhood and who have taken pains to eliminate from the future peace causes of disturbance and instability."
[I] (d) BRITAINS RECRUITING PLEDGE Following are copies of two official appeals to the manhood of Ireland, published throughout Ireland as late as 1918 with the authority of the British War Office: [Numbered: (417) 5626. 3. 20,000. Falconer G. 5]
“The Star-Spangled Banner is unfurled for the fight. There is not the slightest ambiguity about the language of President Wilson :
Territory, sovereignty or political relationship—any or all of these -to be settled upon the basis of the free acceptance of that settlement by the people immediately concerned'.
“The President also said :
“We are concerting with our Allies to make not only the liberties of America secure, but the liberties of every other people as well’.
“No man can read these words without applying them to Ireland as well as to Belgium, Poland, the Jugo-Slavs and the Ukraine. The Allies (and America clearly states this) cannot undertake to free the peoples under Germany and Austria and leave OTHER peoples under a system of Government which they resent. America, speaking through its President, declares that the liberties of every other people' are as valued and are to be made secure, aye, as the liberties of America. Will Ireland fight for this freedom? America will see her rights are secured."
(2) IRELAND AND THE PEACE CONFERENCE “The Allies declare in specific terms that they are out to give freedom to Small Nationalities. The Central Powers, Germany and Austria, refuse to declare any such thing, and their treatment of Belgium, Serbia, Montenegro and Roumania in the present war is enough to show their principles and method. But they go further and ask the Allies to agree to close out all nations not in the enjoyment of freedom prior to the war. The Allies refuse. Is it not in the interest of Ireland then to test the public declarations of the Allies, and aid them in the fight they are waging for Small Nationalities. They cannot then in the face of Europe give freedom to all the Small Nations and leave Ireland out.'
AMERICAN PRINCIPLES REASSERTED The principles for which the United States stands are reasserted in the latest State document, that of Secretary Colby in a Note to Italy, August 10, 1920:
“That the present rulers of Russia do not rule by the will or the consent of any considerable proportion of the Russian peoples is an incontestable fact.
Without any desire to interfere in the
internal affairs of the Russian people or to suggest what kind of government they shall have, the government of the United States does express the hope that they will soon find a way to set up a government representing their free will and purpose.'
Speaking of Finland, ethnic Poland, the Armenian state, and the necessity of maintaining their independence, Secretary Colby said:
“The aspirations of these peoples for independence are legitimate. Each was forcibly annexed, and their liberation from oppressive alien rule involves no aggression against Russia's territorial rights and has received the sanction of the public opinion of all free peoples. Such a declaration pre-supposes the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the territory embraced by these boundaries."
On March 4, 1919, by a vote of 216 to 41, the House of Representatives resolved :
“That it is the earnest hope of the Congress of the United States of America, that the Peace Conference now sitting at Paris and passing upon the rights of the various peoples will favorably consider the claims of Ireland to self-determination."
On June 6, 1919, the Senate by a vote to which there was only one dissentient, resolved :
“That the Senate of the United States earnestly request the American Plenipotentiary Commissioners at Versailles to endeavor to secure for Eamon de Valera, Arthur Griffith, and George Noble Count Plunkett, a hearing before the said Peace Conference in order that they may present the cause of Ireland, and resolved further, that the Senate of the United States express its sympathy with the aspiration of the Irish people for a government of its own choice."
TREATY OF PEACE WITH GERMANY
Senate Resolution, March 18, 1920:
“In consenting to the ratification of the treaty with Germany the United States adheres to the principle of self-determination and to the resolution of sympathy with the aspiration of the Irish people for a government of their own choice adopted by the Senate, June 6, 1919, and declares that when self-government is attained by Ireland, a consummation it is hoped is at hand, it should promptly be admitted as a member of the League of Nations.'
“Ireland a Nation”
The fact that nationhood is not denied to Ireland, except by those who have an obvious special interest in the denial, makes it unnecessary to labor any proof of it.
G. K. Chesterton, the well-known English publicist, accepts the fact as obvious :
if Aunt Jane is not a person there is no such thing as a person, and I say with equal conviction that if Ireland is not a nation then there is no such thing as a nation; France is not a nation, England is not a nation; there is no such thing as patriotism on this planet.
if we free Ireland we must free it to be a nation; if we go on repressing Ireland we are repressing a nation; if we are right to repress Ireland we are right to repress a nation.
I will not argue with a man about whether Ireland is a nation, or about the yet more awful question of whether it is an island." -("Irish Impressions," pp. 187-188).
Mr. H. H, Asquith, when Premier of England, said:
“There are few cases in history—as a student of history I myself know of none of a nationhood at once so distinct, so persistent and so assimilative as the Irish.
I start then with the proposition that Ireland is a nation.”
And again :
“I have always maintained, and I maintain as strongly today that
Ireland is a nation. Not two nations, but one nation, and that the condition of the success of any scheme that statesmen can devise is the recognition, the full and generous recognition, of Irish nationality.”
It is interesting to test Ireland's title to nationhood by accepted current definitions. Professor Yeomans in the “Cyclopedia of American Government," citing Burgess and Garner, defines a "nation" as follows:
“A body of people possessing racial unity. Racial unity can, however, no longer be identified with community of origin.
A nation is a population with a feeling of ethnic solidarity, due to the existence of one or more of a variety of factors of which the following are the most important: a common origin; a common language; a common literature, tradition and history; a common religion; common customs and habits of life; common interests of any sort whether due to geographic unity, to similarity of occupation, or to anything else. No one of these factors is indispensable and no one is necessarily decisive in making a nation. The relative strength of every factor has varied in the past and will vary again.”
It would be difficult to point to any nation in the world that combines so many of these factors of nationhood as Ireland. Surely Poland, CzechoSlovakia and Jugo-Slovakia, rightfully recognized as independent, do not begin to approach Ireland in the distinctive character of their nationhood.
The British “Joint Commission on the Problem of the International Settlement,” an organization of English publicists, in Memorandum IV of its series, has this to say of Ireland :
“Ireland has all the attributes of a nation. Her boundaries cannot be disputed. Her peoples from the earliest times have known the country by a single name, and give it an undivided affection. Through long ages she has been famous for work in gold and metal, in stone and in parchment. Her written history, compiled by her own scholars, is as old as that of England. She possesses an ancient and splendid literature. The work of her unbroken roll of learned scholars and poets for over a thousand years has, during the last three hundred years, been preserved by the devotion of her people, who in their darkest hour still labored in their cabins to copy and continue the manuscript tradition left them by their fathers. There is no other instance in Europe of a zeal such as this. The national consciousness of the people, based on a great tradition, has never failed, and is now of passionate intensity.”—(“Ireland” p. 13.)
"The early history of Ireland reveals a story of singular beauty and spiritual dignity. Instead of a country of barbarian disorder, Ireland appears as a land of mixed races united under Celtic leadership in an intense national faith.
“The whole country was, from earliest times, known by a single name, Eire, which later took the form of Ireland. Its chroniclers began writing its history in the seventh century, and from at least as early as the eighth century a code of laws existed for the whole of Ireland. National sentiment was inspired by love of the country itself, and its geography was part of the earliest literature. Schools of learning were so ordered as to be in fact a National University, and by their care the Irish language was guarded and perfected as the language of Ireland one and indivisible. It is the early unity of all Ireland in its intellectual and spiritual life which reveals the soul of the country and which has given it from the first the fervour of national consciousness.
“What is known of the political life of the time reveals a settled government which commanded the affection of the people and social conditions both humane and reasonable. Communication with continental peoples was frequent, and Irish travellers—poets, missionaries, scholars and traders—were found in every land. Woolen goods, leather work, fine embroideries, and other wares from Ireland were known in Europe as far even as Naples and Russia. Irish scholars above all had a great repute, especially as teachers, in foreign lands. Ireland lived no secluded life, but was in direct contact with the trade, the science, and the literature of Europe. The wealth of the country invited many invaders-Danes, Normans, and English. The invasion of Henry II. in 1169 broke the unity of the national life and the natural progress of civilization, culture and government. Two contending forms of civilization were set against each other, one based on a political and imperial idea of a State—the other on the national and spiritual tradition of a country. The conflict thus begun has continued to the present day *"-("Ireland," pp. 3-4).