Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Irish Question

"St. Patrick's Day, 1919" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune,  March 17, 1919
And where would we be afther goin' this glorious Sláinteback Sathairn but the Emerald Isle?

"Give Her a Front Seat!" by Fred Seibel in Knickerbocker Press, ca. Feb., 1919
When we last checked in on century-old events in Ireland, Sinn Féin had just rejected British promises to grant Ireland home rule on Tuesday in return for drafting Irish lads to fight the Bosch today. Riots and repression followed.
"St. Patrick's Day in the Mornin'" by Bill Sykes in Philadelphia Evening Ledger, March 17, 1919
Today we jump ahead one year to find the Great War over, Britain and its allies victorious. Sinn Féin won a landslide victory in the Irish general election of December, 1918, save in Ulster, where the Irish Unionist Party won most parliamentary seats. Sinn Féin refused to join the British Parliament, instead declaring Irish independence in January and setting up its own unicameral parliament called the Dáil Éireann.
"May Make Somebody Sick" by Sidney Joseph Greene in New York Evening Telegram, Jan. or Feb., 1919
Along with an official declaration of independence and a constitution, one of the first orders of business for the Dáil was publication of a "Message to the Free Nations" demanding that Ireland be allowed to make its case for independence at the Paris Peace Conference. The British response was to appoint Field Marshal John Denton Pinkstone French, 1st Earl of Ypres, as "master of Ireland" with complete authority over the island's government.
"A Gordian Knot" by Grover Page in Nashville Tennesseean, ca. Feb., 1919
British intransigence was inevitable, given Irish revolutionaries' collusion with Germany, rioting on Armistice Day, and the assassination of two Royal Irish Constabulary policemen in an ambush on the same day that independence was declared. A diplomatic solution was not to be had. Increasing tension and sporadic violence would result in two years of guerrilla warfare with Great Britain (the Cogadh na Saoirse, a.k.a. the Black and Tan War).
"And the Cat Came Back" by Archibald Chapin in St. Louis Republic, ca. Feb. 1919
Given President Woodrow Wilson's proclaimed ideals of "self-determination of all peoples," there was considerable sympathy in the U.S. for Irish independence, as shown in this selection of cartoons. Even the American cartoonists who portray the Irish as unready for self-rule conceded that it should come to pass sooner or later.

"He's Going to Keep On Till He Gets Them" by William Hanny in St. Joseph News-Press, ca. Feb., 1919
It would have been interesting to see how an anti-Irish cartoonist such as Thomas Nast might have depicted the Irish fight for home rule. Nast never had a kind word for Irish-Americans, persistently drawing them as apish, violent louts; he was, moreover, virulently anti-Catholic throughout his career. (Nast's cartooning career essentially ended in 1892, and he died of yellow fever while visiting Ecuador in 1902; if he had survived another sixteen years, he would have had to reconcile his German heritage with growing anti-German sentiment in the U.S. during the Great War.)

The great "Ding" Darling seemed at this point to be rather ambivalent about Irish self-rule. In our last cartoon today, he makes a joke playing off the apparent attraction among urban Irish-Americans to law enforcement as a profession, but doesn't present the gentleman's proposal as either good or bad per se.
"...Before It Is Too Late" by Jay N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, March 10, 1919
I just don't think the gentleman is quite dressed for the job.

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