Historians have long noted that the 18th century American Revolution and the 20th century struggle for Irish independence have a number of historical, political, and symbolic parallels-in both cases, separation from Great Britain took several years to achieve, required revolutionary warfare, and tested long-established allegiances. Yet while these similarities have been documented, very few historians have considered the extent to which the roots of the Easter Rising grew in American soil. For instance, not only were Ireland's "exiled children in America" acknowledged in the Proclamation announcing "the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic," a document which circulated in Dublin on the first day of the Rising in April 1916, but also, the United States was the only country singled out in this Proclamation for offering Ireland help. Remarkably, five of the seven Proclamation signatories spent time in the U.S., with one a naturalized citizen and the others influenced by the freedoms that Americans enjoyed. Furthermore, money from the States largely bankrolled the Rising, including the purchase of weaponry used and the funding of publications distributed.
And direct involvement was but one dimension of the United States' connection with the Revolution-though the Rising encompassed just six days, the events in Ireland fascinated Americans, and became a major, continuing news story throughout 1916. In this work, Robert Schmuhl offers the first focused study of the United States' role in the Easter uprising and the event's significance in the evolution of Irish America. Based on original archival research conducted in Ireland, the United States, and Britain, the work brings into bold relief the central characters in facilitating and responding to the Rising. Each chapter places in the foreground one such individual-John Devoy, Joyce Kilmer, Woodrow Wilson, and Eamon de Valera-in order to inform the larger narrative about the preparation and the action of the Uprising, as well as the reactions of the Irish and Americans alike to the event. Capturing the complexities of American politics, Irish-Americanism, and Anglo-American relations in the unprecedented war and post-war circumstances, The "Exiled Children" and Easter 1916 is an important contribution to a much-neglected aspect of the struggle for Irish independence.