One hundred years after the Declaration of Independence, an American whaling captain, George S. Anthony, commemorated the event by enforcing another declaration of independence which set free the Irish political prisoners who were sentenced to a lifetime of servitude in the English penal colony in Australia.
The story of the rescue of these prisoners in 1876 is a brave incident of history which has hitherto been told too briefly. When Captain Anthony, commanding the bark Catalpa, landed the men for whose relief the expedition was planned, at New York, public interest in the romantic voyage was very intense. The boldness of the raid upon the English colony and the remarkable features of the conspiracy, excited universal curiosity concerning the details of the affair.
At that time international complications seemed certain, and there were many reasons why those concerned in the rescue furnished only meagre information of the inception of the plan and its progress during the two years which were spent in bringing it to a successful consummation.
Brief newspaper accounts appeared at the time, and this material has been worked over into magazine sketches. The frequency with which the original newspaper story has been revived during the years which have elapsed suggested that the interest was still alive and led to the writing of the story which follows. The facts were contributed by Captain Anthony, who placed his log-book and personal records at the disposition of the writer, and the present version is authorized by the man who was most prominent in it.
Some of the incidents of history which led up to the Fenian conspiracy in 1867 are compiled from familiar sources. The records of the court-martial are from transcripts of the proceedings made in Dublin expressly for this book, and have never previously been published.
No attempt has been made to embellish the narrative. It has been the effort of the writer to tell it simply, as he knows the gallant commander would best like to have it told.
New Bedford, Mass., 1897.