He became a leading Member of both Young Ireland and the Irish Confederation. He also became a public voice for the Southern American viewpoint in the United States in the 1850s and 1860s before ending up elected to the British House of Commons, only to be disqualified because he was a convicted felon. His Jail Journal is one of Irish nationalism’s most famous texts.
Convicted of treason in 1848, Mitchel was sentenced to fourteen years transportation in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania.) In 1853, he escaped to America, where he published his Jail Journal.
While in America, he was editor of the Richmond Examiner and was a strong advocate of Confederate rights. He was imprisoned for several months after the Civil War ended. His return to Ireland, evoked huge enthusiasm amongst an Irish population devastated by ‘An Gorta Mor’ and emigration.