Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/280

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

anything else to avert the threatened stampede of Irish voters and insured his defeat at almost the last moment, when he did not dare rebuke the bigoted minister Burchard for his famous utterance concerning "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion."

Courage, moral and physical, was never lacking in the make-up of John Boyle O'Reilly. He had conscientiously opposed the nomination of Mr. Cleveland; he as conscientiously supported the nomination when made, and, as we shall see, no critic was more severe or outspoken in denouncing the mistakes and faults of Mr. Cleveland's administration. That which he wrote in the middle of the campaign of 1884 is a good explanation of why Irish- Americans are mainly Democrats in politics. The question of race had not been introduced into the contest by him nor by the Democratic party; but as the issue had been raised, O'Reilly justly defended the party to which his countrymen owed gratitude for past friendship.

"Irish-Americans have been Democrats," he said, "not by chance, but by good judgment. Tried in the fires of foreign tyranny, their instincts as well as their historical knowledge of Jeffersonian Democracy, led them to the American party that expressed and supported the true principles of Republican Government. Experience has shown them -that their selection was good. Every assault on their rights as citizens in this country has come from the Republican party and its predecessors in opposition, and in all these assaults the Democracy has been their shield and vindication . . . . We do not want to see Irish-Americans all on one side; but we want to see them following principles and not will-o'-the-wisps. We want to see them conscientiously and intelligently right, whichever side they take."

Intelligent Democrats everywhere admitted that to John Boyle O'Reilly and Hon. Patrick A. Collins was due the frustration of a very able attempt to turn Irish-American voters to the Republican party.

The regular Irish National League Convention was held