Special Collections Faculty and Staff Publications


The Irish Republic: Reconstructing Liberty, Right Principles, and the Fenian Brotherhood

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2017


Irish history, Irish-American History, history, Irish, Ireland, Newspapers, Irish newspapers, Irish-American newspapers


This essay is an attempt to rescue from relative obscurity a pro-Fenian newspaper, the Irish Republic, published in Chicago from May 1867 until April 1868. In that year operations were moved to New York City and then finally to Washington, DC, where the paper ceased publication in 1873. As there are no significant extant copies beyond April 1868, this essay will concentrate mainly on the newspaper's first year of publication. This was a tumultuous period for the Fenian Brotherhood and Irish American nationalism, however, and a closer look at the Irish Republic will reveal an editorial stance that differed significantly from the viewpoints of other Irish American publications of the period. The Irish Republic certainly promoted the physical-force nationalism of the Fenian Brotherhood, but its editors also supported the Radical Republican agenda during the period of Reconstruction. They fiercely criticized the Democratic Party; promoted black suffrage and equal rights; supported the temperance movement; openly disparaged the Catholic press; and eventually advocated the creation of a secret revolutionary society based on the traditions of the Masonic Brotherhood. Since studies of the Irish Republic's unique platform are virtually absent from the historiography of the period, it is hoped that this essay will establish that a greater variety of perspectives were current in Fenian circles than has previously been recognized. Such a new awareness can deepen our understanding of Irish (and especially Irish American) nationalist political attitudes and concerns during this time of crisis in the Fenian Brotherhood.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Éire-Ireland, v. 52, no. 3-4, p. 252-271