James G. Douglas, honorary treasurer of the Irish White Cross, visited U.S. cities in November 1921 to acknowledge the $5 million in relief Americans donated since the start of the year. The American Committee for Relief in Ireland, which collected the money, described him as “a prominent (drapery) merchant in Dublin, a member of the religious Society of Friends (Quakers) … held in the highest esteem by all classes of people of whatever religious or political affiliation.”Report of American Committee for Relief in Ireland, New York, 1922 , p. 51. Douglas “almost singlehandedly” operated the Irish White Cross, which distributed the aid in Ireland through summer 1922.See Dictionary of Irish Biography
Douglas made his first stop in Pittsburgh, where he was honored by members of the local American Committee at a Knights of Columbus hall.
“I addressed the gathering, conveyed the thanks of the White Cross and the Irish people for what they had done and explaining the manner in which the White Cross had administered the relief made possible by the American Committee’s funds,” Douglas wrote in a seven-page account of the tour held by the National Library of Ireland. He never mentioned fundraising totals, which are in some dispute.See my earlier posts: The Pittsburgh fight over 1921 relief to Ireland and ‘A duty to their own flesh & blood‘.
From Pittsburgh, Douglas traveled to Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston. His report is filled with the names of long-ago discontinued passenger railroad lines and prominent early 20th century political and church leaders:
- Bishop Hugh C. Boyle of Pittsburgh, whose Irish immigrant father was killed in the 1889 Johnstown flood.
- Archbishop George W. Mundelein of Chicago, son of an Irish immigrant mother.
- Former Wisconsin Gov. Francis E. McGovern.
- Archbishop John J. Glennon of St. Louis, a County Westmeath native.
- Dr. Vernon Kellogg, director of the National Research Council.
- U.S. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, who was elected U.S. president in 1928.
- Limerick Mayor Stephen M. O’Mara, also visiting America.
- William A. Brady, president of the National Association of Motion Picture Producers.
- Cardinal William O’Connell of Boston, son of Irish parents.
- Massachusetts Gov. Channing H. Cox.
Douglas made several reference to his encounters with newspaper reporters and photographers, but most press coverage was brief and placed on inside pages. His month-long visit was hardly generated as much attention as Éamon de Valera’s U.S. tour from June 1919 through December 1920.
By early December 1921, the treaty between Irish separatists and the British government dominated the news as Douglas returned to Ireland. He served in the Irish Senate from 1922 until his death in 1954.