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Mitchel, John

Mitchel, John (1815–75). Irish nationalist. Mitchel's father had taken part in the '98 rising. Mitchel, a protestant, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, became a solicitor. A militant supporter of Young Ireland, he joined the staff of the Nation. An inflammatory article, pointing out how easy it was to cut the railway network around Dublin, led to a breach with O'Connell, anxious that his Repeal Association should not be smeared by violence. Mitchel founded a weekly paper, the United Irishman, in February 1848 and began publishing articles on drilling and the use of the pike. In March 1848 he was charged with ‘treason-felony’, sentenced to fourteen years transportation, and was on board boat when the abortive 1848 rising occurred. He was sent to Bermuda for a year and then to Tasmania, where he broke parole and escaped to America. There he founded a newspaper in New York, the Citizen, preaching hatred of Britain. In the Civil War he supported the South. Mitchel returned to Ireland in 1875, was elected MP for Tipperary, disqualified, and died. His Jail Journal (1854) has been called ‘the bible of republicanism’.

J. A. Cannon

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Mitchel, John

John Mitchel, 1815–75, Irish revolutionist and journalist. A practicing lawyer, Mitchel contributed articles to the Nation (Dublin) and the United Irishman, which he founded in 1848, calling for rebellion against Britain. He was transported to Australia for sedition before the abortive Young Ireland revolt of 1848, which he had helped prepare, was carried out. He escaped to the United States in 1853, where he led a turbulent and contentious career as a journalist, editing the proslavery journal Citizen (1854–55) in New York City, and during the Civil War, the Richmond Enquirer. After a short imprisonment (1865) for his Confederate activities, he became acknowledged leader of the Irish-American nationalists, and as such edited the Irish Citizen. He returned to Ireland and was elected (1875) to Parliament shortly before his death. His Jail Journal (1854; new ed., with intro. by Arthur Griffith, 1945) is an Irish revolutionary classic.

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