Ireland’s breakaway government, Dáil Éireann, in 1920 began to raise money in America through the sale of small denomination bond certificates. Éamon de Valera launched the effort Jan. 17 in New York City with great fanfare. The kickoff “Irish Loan Week” continued through Jan. 26.
As Robin Adams writes on the Century Ireland blog:
This was a period of intense canvassing, with promotional events in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Widening its geographical footprint, the drive was then launched around the country at public meetings. The initial focus of each state was the large cities, with the less populated areas to follow. The meetings were addressed by prominent local personalities, but as ‘President of the Irish Republic’ de Valera was the main attraction.
The American Commission on Irish Independence (ICII) helped to organize the bond drive across the country. This was the non-U.S. government delegation of three prominent Irish Americans that in 1919 visited Ireland and lobbied on its behalf at the Paris peace conference. ICII Chairman Frank P. Walsh of Kansas City, a national vice chairman of the Friends of Irish Freedom (FOIF), directed a roster of state chairmen selected to coordinate central committees representing geographic areas, rather than smaller communities or individual organizations.
“A multitude of meetings throughout the country are being planned by the state chairmen and the committees working under their direction … and I am sure that the educational benefit of the drive to the American people will be as great as the satisfaction all lovers of liberty will get from knowing that they have worked in the Cause of Liberty in Ireland,” Walsh said.
Historian Francis M. Carroll writes:
These leaders and their staffs were to utilize the manpower of local Irish groups, such as the Friends, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish Progressive League, the Knights of Columbus, and others, to do the canvassing and selling. If a separate sales force were needed it could be created when and where appropriate. … Handbooks, promotional literature, and letters of advice poured out of the New York headquarters to inform and guide the organizers across the country.”
The list of 40 state chairmen below comes from The Irish Standard, Minneapolis, Minn. No information is provided in the paper for nine states left blank; smudged, unreadable letters or numbers are represented by ?. I’ve added details about many of the chairman from newspaper stories and the 1920 U.S. Census. Readers are encouraged to provide additional information.
Like Walsh, six other chairmen were FOIF national officers from the February 1919 Irish Race Convention in Philadelphia. Later in the year, several became state directors of the rival, pro-de Valera American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic. At least six of the chairmen were Irish immigrants; others were first-generation Irish Americans. Their work as lawyers and judges, physicians, bankers, and merchants demonstrates ascendant Irish middle class 70 years after Famine immigration.
- Alabama: Frank J. Thompson, 65 St. Francis St., Mobile. Real estate salesman publicly defended de Valera against calls for his deportation from the state’s governor.
- Arkansas: James E. Gray, Gans Building, Little Rock
- California: Judge Bernard J. Flood, City Hall, San Francisco. State Superior Court jurist.
- Connecticut: John J. Splain, Bijou Theatre, New Haven. Theatre manager; both parents born in Ireland.. FOIF national vice president.
- Delaware: John F. Malloy, 1402 Ford Building, Wilmington. Lawyer and city official.
- District of Columbia: William M. Phelan, Washington Savings Bank. Born in Ireland about 1862; emigration year unknown; naturalized U.S. citizen in 1895. As the bank’s president, in December 1920 he also served as treasure of a fund-raising committee for a parade to honor Muriel MacSwiney, widow of the late Lord Mayor of Cork, who visited Washington to testify before the American Commission on Conditions in Ireland. He also received subscriptions to assist the stricken town of Mallow, County Cork, after a British raid.
- Georgia: E.J. O’Connor, 1320 Green St., Augusta
- Idaho: J.J. McCue, Idaho Building, Boise City. Lawyer, father born in Ireland.[1920 U.S. Census, Boise, Ada, Idaho; Roll: T625_287; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 20.[/note]
- Illinois: Richard W. Wolfe, 5344 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Real estate proprietor; born in Ireland; emigration and naturalization unknown. FOIF national trustee.
- Indiana: Judge James E. Deery, 312 Law Building, Indianapolis
- Iowa: Dr. William P. Slattery, 9th & Locust Sts. Dubuque. Physician; born in Ireland; emigrated in 1886; naturalization unknown.
- Kansas: Judge Michael J. Manning, 1708 Central Ave., Kansas City. Hardware store merchant; both parents born in Ireland.[1920 U.S. Census, Kansas City Ward 5, Wyandotte, Kansas; Roll: T625_556; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 185.[/note]
- Kentucky: Thomas F. Maguire, Louisville. Dry good merchant; both parents born in Ireland.
- Louisiana: A.G. Williams, Maison Blanche Building, New Orleans
- Maryland: M.P. Kehoe, Equitable Building, Baltimore. Lawyer; born in Ireland; emigrated in 1898; naturalized in 1905. Vice president of the Celtic Club, 1916; President of the Shamrock Club, 1918.
- Massachusetts: John F. Harrington, 66 High St., Worcester. Railroad station freight handler and union member; both parents born in Ireland.[1920 U.S. Census, Leominster Ward 2, Worcester, Massachusetts; Roll: T625_747; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 335, and multiple mentions in the Fitchburg (Mass) Sentinel, 1915-1925.[/note]
- Michigan: Patrick J. Murphy, Buhl Block, Detroit. Lawyer; born in Ireland; emigrated 1870.[1920 U.S. Census, Detroit Ward 1, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_803; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 38.[/note] FOIF national trustee.
- Minnesota: Edward T. Foley, Gilfillan Block, St. Paul. Railroad contractor.
- Mississippi: William Vollor, First National Bank Building, Vicksburg. Lawyer. “I am gratified, indeed, that there are so few people here in Vicksburg who cannot appreciate the right that Ireland claims for liberty and nationhood. … opposition here only adds to the generous response that our good people gave to President de Valera’s appeal for justice for the oppressed people of Ireland.”
- Missouri: A.J. Donnelly, 3846 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis
- Montana: James E. Murray, 35 N. Main St., Butte. Laywer. FOIF national trustee. In November 1920, was named state director of the pro-de Valera American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic..
- Nebraska: Col. P.S. Heafey, 2611 Farnum St., Omaha
- New Hampshire: James J. Griffin, 789 Beach St., Manchester. Grocery merchant; both parents born in Ireland.
- New Jersey:
- New Mexico:
- New York: William Bourke Cockran, 100 Broadway, New York City. Lawyer and former U.S. Congressman; chief of Tammany Hall, the Democratic party machine in New York.
- North Carolina: Dr. John S. Clifford, 609 Commercial Bank Building, Charlotte. In November 1920, was named state director of the pro-de Valera American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic..
- North Dakota: Hon. John Carmody, 5 Huntington Block, Fargo
- Ohio: M.P. Mooney, Society Savings Bank, Cleveland. Lawyer and member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians..
- Oklahoma: Arthur P. Sweeney, 204 Robinson Building, Tulsa
- Oregon: Dr. Andrew W. Smith, Medical Building, Portland
- Pennsylvania: Hon. Eugene C. Bonniwell, 690 City Hall, Philadelphia. Municipal Court judge had been Democratic Party nominee for governor in 1918; member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. See note for list of Pennsylvania county chairmen.
- Rhode Island: Hon. Cornelius C. Moore, ???? Thompson St., Newport. FOID national trustee.
- South Carolina: Hon. John P. Grace, 45 Broad St. Charleston. FOIF national vice president.
- South Dakota:
- Tennessee: Edward F. Walsh, 600 Market St., Knoxville. In November 1920, was named state director of the pro-de Valera American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic..
- Utah: Thomas Maginnis, Eecles Building, Ogden. Lawyer.
- Vermont: Dr. John V. Derven, Putney
- Virginia: Daniel G. O’Flaherty, 11??? Mutual Building, Richmond
- Washington: G.P. Gleason, 2nd & Madison Sts., Seattle
- West Virginia: Timothy S. Scanlon, Huntington. City official and state roads commissioner; Catholic.
- Wisconsin: Joseph P. Callan, 10?0 First National Bank Building, Milwaukee. Lawyer; born in Ireland; emigrated 1895; naturalized in 1900. FOIF national trustee.
- Wyoming: Michael Purcell, Casper
At the end of January 1920, the Standard reported:
The work of organization is farther advanced in some States than in others … As might have been expected, the most rapid progress has been made in those States where there have been numerous meetings during the past year, where there has been plentiful publicity, and where the various societies friendly to the Irish cause have been active. In such places it was only necessary to name a campaign period and the campaign organization required produced itself with surprising speed. It did not take long to learn, however, that this desirable condition does not exist in the same degree of perfection in every State … Probably the most forward in the matters of preparation are the areas around New York and Philadelphia [which] contain more people of Irish descent than are found in many Southern or Western States combined.
The bond drive opened with a public target of $10 million and private expectation of $5 million. Just over $5.1 million was collected. More in future posts of my American Reporting of Irish Independence series.