1916 — ROGER CASEMENT

Roger Casement was born to Ulster Protestants in Antrim. At age 28 he joined the British Civil Service, and was eventually knighted for services in the British Counsel in the Congo Free State. Casement exposed the cruelty and regime that forced native workers into slavery on Congo rubber plantations.

In 1913 Casement left the British consular service, and being interested in the “Cause”, he became an original founder of the Irish Volunteers. Traveling first to America to raise funds from sympathetic Irish, he then traveled to Germany, to raise an Irish Brigade from Irish POWs, and to procure arms for the Rising. Over 2,000 Irishmen were taken prisoner during the early months of the war, of which 52 agreed to become volunteers. In the event the Irish would not win against England, these volunteers could be tried for treason. In April 1916, Germany agreed to furnish 20,000 rifles and 10 machine guns and ammunition to the Irish, but no military expertise. Although sailing under disguise as a Norwegian ship, the Royal Navy seized the weapons carrying ship, Aud-Norge, destroying weapons and taking the German crew as prisoners.

Believing the Germans were providing inadequate aid, he reached Ireland and attempted to convince Eoin MacNeill to cancel the Rising. Arriving in Tralee Bay, a recurrence of malaria left Casement weak, and he was captured and arrested for treason, sabotage and espionage against the Crown. He was convicted on technicalities, and hung in August 1916.

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