What Happens When People Defy An Empire?

6 The year was 1848. There was a large crowd gathered outside a courthouse, restlessly waiting for the news of what would happen to the Young Ireland disorders, a group of Irish Nationalists that dared defy the world’s most powerful empire–that of the British Empire and it’s reigning monarch, Queen Victoria.
As the nine young men were led from the prison over the cobblestoned streets to the courthouse, the crowd became eerily quiet. The men were convicted of treason against the Crown, and they were chained together like common felons, flanked by the Crown’s soldiers as they were marched to their trial. The penalty for their crimes was death.
The only people in the courtroom were her Majesty’s officials and the prisoners. Otherwise, the courtroom was empty. The authorities had already decided that these men should be dealt with severely; the spirit of rebellion, which the nine men represented, must be crushed. The presiding judge cleared his throat before he began sentencing….
“Patrick Donahue, Charles Duffy, Thomas McGee, Thomas Meagher, Terrence Mc Manus, John Mitchell, Michael Ireland, Morris Lyene, and Richard O’Gorman–you have been tried and found guilty of treason against the Crown. Have you anything to say before the court passes sentence?”
There had been a spokesman chosen by the group, by the name of Thomas Meagher, who stepped forward to give a statement. The windows of the courtroom were open on this fine spring day, so Meagher knew that the crowd would be able to hear him. Meagher’s statement was delivered in the clear, ringing tones of a man who was firm in his convictions, right in his assertions, and unafraid of death. He spoke loudly and eloquently, knowing that his last words would be heard by the gathering outside of the courthouse windows.
“Your lordship,” Meagher began, “this is our first offense, but not our last. If you can find it possible to be easy with us this once, sir, we pledge our word as gentlemen that we will do better next time! And the next time, we will not be foolish enough to get caught!”
The crowd outside roared their approval. The irate judge banged his gavel for silence. He promptly sentenced the nine to be hanged to death.
The story of the Young Ireland disorders soon captured the imaginations, and popular support, of people around the world. Protesters beleaguered the British government, and Queen Victoria found it inadvisable to carry out the death sentences of the nine young dissenters. Instead, the Queen and her advisors ordered that the sentence of hanging be commuted to life imprisonment in the penal colonies of Australia, which was still a wild and uninviting part of the British Empire.
What happened to the nine rebels, that dared defy an Empire? Did history swallow them up into the obscurities of time? Or were their collective spirits above and beyond the laws of mere men? Here’s what happened…
Tom Mc Gee left Australia and went to Canada, where he became an honored member of the Canadian House of Commons.
Richard O’Gorman also went to Canada and became the Governor General of Newfoundland.
John Mitchell made his way from Australia to the United States and had a brilliant and successful career in the politics of New York state, where his son became the mayor of New York City.
Thomas McMannus and Patrick Donahue became brigadier generals in the Union Army of the United States during the Civil War.
Thomas Meagher, the spokesman of the group, became the governor of the state of Montana.
The other three members of the Young Ireland disorders? Morris Lyene stayed in Australia and served as a great Attorney General of Australia, going head to head against many British barristers and winning most of his legal skirmishes against the Crown. Lyene was succeeded by his old fellow prisoner, Michael Ireland, who also served as a great Attorney General of Australia.
The greatest success story of all was that of Charles Duffy, who became the newly elected Prime Minister of Australia in 1871. This gave the Crown and Queen Victoria the most awkward position of having to negotiate with the same Charles Duffy that had been exiled twenty-three years before for high treason. The irony..
There must be some kind of lesson in this story. Feel free to comment.


3 thoughts on “What Happens When People Defy An Empire?

  1. Tina

    I respect the militia, I respect the TeaParty; I respect ANYONE who fights. There are a few out there. There are not enough. Americans, upon seeing the Mexican hordes, run. Well, we’ve run out of room to run to. 7, if not 8, of our states are now MINORITY WHITE. We stand at 63% of this population, and we are dropping fast.
    WN men are faggots and won’t procreate. The other men procreate. Thank God.

    All we can do is get into white towns and DEFEND THEM TO THE LAST. That includes against Mexican-AMERICANS. How are we gonna do that one? NO ONE sells them a house; NO ONE gives them a job, and NO ONE lets them start a business.

    I saw a poster showing the original Minutemen. It said: ‘Pussies. WE went to war over TAXES’

    Meaning, what will it take to get us off our asses?


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