Monday, March 16, 2015

St Patrick's Day

     The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association honors Saint Patrick's Day by posting George Washington's General Orders of March 16, 1780, giving the Continental Army the day off March 17.  Referring to himself in the third person as he customarily did, General Washington wrote,

     The general congratulates the army on the very interesting proceedings of the parliament of 
Ireland and the inhabitants of that country which have been lately communicated; not only as they appear calculated to remove those heavy and tyrannical oppressions on their trade but to restore to a brave and generous people their ancient rights and freedom and by their operations to promote the cause of America.  

     The actions of the Irish Parliament prompted many Americans to hope that Ireland's independence was imminent.  On February 24, 1780, Philadelphia newspaper The Pennsylvania Packet published a November 17, 1779 letter from an unnamed crewman or officer from L'Orient, a ship commanded by John Paul Jones.  The writer exulted, "The Parliament of Ireland have acted with a degree of spirit, that surprizes every body.  On their meeting, instead of echoing back the Lord Lieutenant's speech, as is usual, they in their address to the King, demanded a free trade in every respect; and if this is refused them, there is no doubt but that they will declare themselves independent."
     During the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), Britain detained some captured American sailors in Ireland.  In December 1783, Washington assured an association of Irish immigrants that "the Hospitality and Beneficence of your Countrymen, to our Brethren who have been Prisoners of War, are neither unknown, or unregarded."
     Washington's letter is available online courtesy of PBS.  Read about the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association at their website, mountvernon,org.  For background on the office of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the British monarch's representative in the Kingdom of Ireland and the executive authority there, please read the entry at Wikipedia.