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United Irishmen Proclamation, 1798

This draft proclamation was never formally issued. Its author, Dublin barrister John Sheares, was betrayed and captured by the English on May 21st 1798, and executed alongside his brother Henry on July 14th.


IRISHMEN!


Your country is free, and you are about to be avenged. That vile government, which has so long and so cruelly oppressed you, is no more! Some of its most atrocious monsters have already paid the forfeit of their lives, and the rest are in our hands. The national flag — the sacred green, is at this moment flying over the ruins of despotism; and that Capital, which a few years past had witnessed the debauchery, the plots and crimes of your tyrants, is now the citadel of triumphant Patriotism and Virtue! Arise, then, United Sons of Ireland, arise like a great and powerful nation, determined to live free or die! Arm yourselves by every means in your power, and rush like lions on your foes. Consider that for every enemy you disarm, you arm a friend, and thus become doubly powerful. In the cause of liberty inaction is cowardice, and the coward shall forfeit the property he has not the courage to protect. Let his arms be secured and transferred to those gallant spirits who want and will use them. Yes, Irishmen, we swear by that Eternal Justice, in whose cause you fight, that the brave Patriot who survives the present glorious struggle, and the family of him who has fallen, or shall hereafter fall in it, shall receive from the hands of a grateful nation an ample recompense out of that property which the crimes of our enemies have forfeited into its hands, and his name shall be inscribed on the great national record of Irish Revolution, as a glorious example to all posterity; but we likewise swear to punish robbers with death and infamy. We also swear never to sheath the sword until every being in the country is restored to those equal rights which the God of Nature has given to all men, until an order of things shall be established into which no superiority shall be acknowledged among the citizens of Erin, but that of virtue and talent.

Rouse all the energies of your souls; call forth all the merit and abilities which a vicious government consigned to obscurity, and under the conduct of your leaders, march with a steady step to victory. Heed not the glare of a hired soldiery or aristocratic yeomanry; they cannot stand the vigorous shock of freemen; their trappings and their arms will soon be yours; and the detested government of England, to which we vow eternal hatred, shall learn that the treasures it exhausts on its accoutred slaves for the purpose of butchering Irishmen, shall but further enable us to turn their swords on its devoted head.

Many of the military feel the love of liberty glow within their breasts, and have already joined the National standard. Receive with open arms such as shall follow so glorious an example; they can render signal service to the cause of freedom, and shall be rewarded according to their deserts. But for the wretch who turns his sword against his native country, let the national vengeance be visited on him — let him find no quarter.

Two other crimes demand [...]

Attack them in every direction by day and by night. Avail yourselves of the natural advantages of your country, which are innumerable, and with which you are better acquainted than they. Where you cannot oppose them in full force, constantly harass their rere and flanks, cut off their provisions and magazines, and prevent them as much as possible from uniting their forces. Let whatever moment you cannot devote to fighting for your country be passed in learning to fight for it, or preparing the means of war, for war, war alone, must occupy every mind and every hand, until its long oppressed soil be purged of all its enemies.

Vengeance, Irishmen, vengeance on your oppressors! — Remember what thousands of your dearest friends have perished by their merciless orders: — Remember their burnings, their rackings, their torturings, their military massacre, and their legal murders. — Remember Orr!