Gen. T. W. Sweeny, who commands the Fenian forces now operating on the Canadian Border, has issued the following Proclamation:
A PROCLAMATION. To the People of British America :
We come among you. as the foes of British rule in Ireland. Exiled from that native land of ours by the oppression of British aristocracy and legislation, our people hunted down to the emigrant ships, or worse, to that charnel of government institutions, the poorhouse; our countrymen torn from their families and friends and hurled in droves into the prison pens of England and Ireland; our country subjected to a foreign tyranny, which disfranchises the mass of the Irish people and makes poverty and misery the sad rule of their condition, covering our fair land with paupers’ graves and wretched hovels, eliciting from the liberal minds of England herself expressions of shame for the government and indignation for the people.
We have taken up the sword to strike down the oppressors’ rod, to deliver Ireland, from the tyrant, the despoiler, the-robber. We have registered our oaths upon the altar of our country in the full view of Heaven, and sent up our vows to the throne of Him who inspired them. Then, looking about us for the enemy, we find him here— here in your midst, where he is most vulnerable and convenient to our strength; and have sworn to stretch forth the armed hand of Ireland and grapple with him. The battle has commenced and we pledge ourselves to all the sacred memories of struggling liberty, to follow it up at any cost to either of two alternatives— the absolute political independence and liberty of Ireland or the demolition of our armies.
We have no issue with the people of these provinces, and wish to have none but the most friendly relations. Our weapons are for the oppressors of Ireland. Our blows shall be directed only against the power of England, her privileges alone shall we invade, not yours. We do not propose to divest you of a solitary right you now enjoy. We will assail and asperse only the rights that are claimed and enjoyed by the government of Great Britain— the right to make her American possessions the field, and base of operations in a war against an enemy. We come to instal ourselves in her possessions, and turn them against her in a war for Irish freedom. We are here, neither as murderers nor robbers, for plunder or spoliation. We are here as the Irish army of liberation; the friends of liberty against despotism, of democracy against aristocracy, of the people against their oppressors, of the ballot against the privileges of class, of progress and development against right and wrong; to conduct this content according to the laws known to honorable warfare, in a manner worthy of the high object we aim for; and the sublime sentiments that actuated us.— In a word, our war is with the armed power of England, and not with the people, not with ‘ these Provinces. Against England upon land and sea, until Ireland is free! And all who raise an arm to defend her, to frustrate us, belong to the common enemy, and as such will be dealt with. As we know how to recognize the services of our friends, so also do we know how to punish the depredations of our foes. Our work for Ireland accomplished, we leave to your own free ballots to determine your own natural and political standing and character, and shall rejoice to see, and assist to make, these limitless colonies spring from the foot of a foreign throne as free and independent, as proud as New-York, Massachusetts, or Illinois. To that yearning for liberty and aspiration after natural independence which swells the breast of every true son of every land, to your own manliness we leave those questions for settlement, confident that the dwarfed development of your vast resources and natural wealth, made the chilled influences of English supremacy in wretched contrast with the national dignity and stupendous material prosperity of your neighboring people of the United States, under the stimulus of self-government and democratic institutions, constitutes a stronger argument in favor of cooperation with us and of the revolution in your political condition which this comparison suggests, than any discussion of the questions involved which we could-offer here.
To Irishmen throughout these Provinces we appeal, in the name of seven centuries British iniquity and Irish misery and suffering; in the name of our murdered sires, our desolate homes.’ our desecrated altars, our millions of famine graves, our insulted name and race— to stretch forth the hand of brotherhood in the holy cause of fatherland. and smite the tyrant where we can in his work of murdering our nation and exterminating our people. We conjure you. our countrymen, who, from misfortunes inflicted by the very tyranny you are serving, or from any other cause, have been forced to enter the ranks of the enemy, not to be the willing instrument of your country’s death or degradation. If Ireland still speaks to you in the truest impulses of your hearts, Irishmen, obey her voice! If you would not be miscreants, recreant to the first principles of your nature, engraven upon the very corner-stone of your being. raise not the hand of the matracide to strike down the banner of Erin! No uniform, and surely not the blood dyed coat of England, can emancipate you from the natural law that binds your allegiance to Ireland, to liberty, to right, to justice. To the friends of Ireland, of freedom, of humanity, of the people, we offer the olive branch of peace and the honest grasp of friendship. Take it, Irishmen, Frenchmen, Americans— take it all and trust it. To all who marched to the call of the enemy, and rally under his standard to aid, or abet his cause, we give the sword in as firm and earnest a gripe as ever did its work upon a foeman. We wish to meet with friends, we are prepared to meet with enemies. We shall endeavor to merit the confidence of the former, and the latter can expect from us but the leniency of a determined though generous foe, and the restraints and relations imposed by civilized warfare.
(Signed) T. W. Sweeny, Major-General commanding the Armies of Ireland.
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