Éamon de Valera, the American-born president of Ireland’s revolutionary government, was smuggled out of a war-torn country on an ocean liner and into the United States of America where he launched a whirlwind, coast-to-coast tour that brought crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands onto the streets of several major American cities. The Irish political leader who just months earlier had escaped from a jail in Britain addressed congressmen, governors, state legislators, and led rallies in some of America’s largest venues, including Madison Square Garden and Fenway Park, where he drew crowds of 60,000 people.
Over the course of that year, he accumulated fame and scandal, but more importantly, he gained essential financial support for the fledgling Irish Republic. Despite the reluctance of an isolationist White House to interfere in British imperial affairs, and the outright opposition of the State Department, de Valera’s mission succeeded in bringing further international pressure to bear on London during Ireland’s struggle for independence.
Image | Éamon De Valera, speaking in America, where he was declared President of the Irish government in exile