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Tone, Wolfe

Tone, Wolfe (1763–98). Irish patriot. Tone was born into a middle-class protestant family in Dublin, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and trained as a lawyer. He was an eloquent advocate of catholic relief, gaining prominence through his Argument on Behalf of the Catholics of Ireland (1791) and as assistant secretary to the Catholic Committee (1792). He was involved with the foundation, in 1791, of the United Irish Society, a constitutional radical organization with clubs initially in Belfast and Dublin. However, his politics grew more militant, and in 1794–5 he was implicated in the trial, for treason, of a French agent, William Jackson. After a brief exile in the USA (August–December 1795), Tone served as United Irish emissary in France (1796–8), seeking French military assistance for the Irish republican cause. He was involved with two abortive French expeditions (in 1796 and 1798), being captured in October 1798. Convicted of treason in November, he committed suicide rather than suffer a public hanging. Despite his origins as a Whig and a constitutionalist, he is widely revered as the father of militant Irish republicanism.

Alvin Jackson

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