Friday, 17 April 2020

America's debt to Ulster

Owen Wister.jpg
Owen Wister (1860-1938) was an American author and historian.  He is best remembered as the author of The Virginian and a biography of Ulysses S Grant and he was a lifelong friend of President Theodore Roosevelt

Wister was a supporter of the unionist cause in Ulster and in his book A Straight Deal Or The Ancient Grudge (1920) he wrote: 

'Americans are being told in these days that they owe a debt of support to Irish independence, because the Irish fought with us in our own struggle for independence.  Yes, the Irish did, and we do owe them a debt of support. But it was the Orange Irish who fought in our Revolution, not the Green Irish.' [p 259]

He went on to quote his good friend Theodore Roosevelt who wrote in his History of New York:
'It is a curious fact that in the Revolutionary War the Germans and Catholic Irish should have furnished the bulk of the auxiliaries to the regular English soldiers;  ... the fiercest and most ardent Americans of all, however, were the Presbyterian Irish settlers and their descendants.' [p 133]

At that time in the early years of the 20th century Irish republicans were endeavouring to gain American support for their cause.  They had support among a core of Irish-Americans but Americans in general were not deceived by fabricated arguments such as that identified by Owen Wister.

His book illustrates the understanding that there was at that time of the Ulster unionist cause in countries such as the United States of America and it is significant that it was penned by someone who was a close friend of some of the leading figures of the day.

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