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Mixed messages from America on Irish independence
Uncle Sam to John Bull: 'It won't do to gild those prison-bars, John; you must release that prisoner.' Cartoon that originally appeared in the 'Gaelic American' on the relationship between the U.S. and Ireland Photo: 'The Literary Digest', 13 January 1919

Mixed messages from America on Irish independence

Washington, 5 March 1919 - The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution favouring self-determination for Ireland yesterday.

In doing so, by a huge margin of 216 votes to 41, the Belfast Newsletter has stated that the House had committed an ‘act of impertinence’, the effect of which was to favour the ‘partition of the British Empire’.

The Newsletter has said that such a partition would be ‘unthinkable’ and accused the House of Representatives of taking a side on an issue which ‘in no way concerns them, in order to gratify that section of their own population which tried to harass and thwart the American nation when it declared war on Germany’.

Henry Flood, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee who introduced the motion, had hoped to have both Houses of Congress vote on the resolution, however no action was taken in the Senate.

Another cartoon in which Uncle Sam is fighting for Ireland's cause, on this occasion against U.S. President Woodrow Wilson (Image: Sunday Independent, 3 March 1919)

Wilson and Ireland
Just last week, Reuters was reporting that President Wilson had informed a group of Senators that Ireland would have no vote at the League of Nations because at present Irish matters were an issue between Ireland and Britain.

Nor was the president able to offer solace to a delegation which he met from the Irish Race Convention held in Philadelphia in February. The delegation asked him to put the case of Ireland’s right to self-determination to the Peace Conference, but Wilson could not confirm that he would

The Irish Independent expressed dismay and incomprehension as to the president’s response. ‘It cannot be because the Irish issue is a domestic question. By simply saying ‘domestic’, oppression and misgovernment ought not, in the world as represented by Mr Wilson, to be any longer cloaked or condoned.’

The Independent does, nonetheless, accept the sincerity of the American president and believes him to possess a genuine interest in seeing that justice is done to Ireland. The paper thanks the Irishmen in the United States, for their efforts in ensuring that the President was fully acquainted with the nature of the Irish question.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.