Casement, Sir Roger David

views updated May 11 2018


Sir Roger David Casement pursued an illustrious career in the British Foreign Service. His achievements were overshadowed by his campaign for Irish nationalism, which eventually led to his trial and execution.

Casement was born September 1, 1864, in Dublin, Ireland. From 1892 to 1904 and from 1906 to 1911, Casement made several noteworthy contributions to the field of British consular service. His investigation of the brutal working conditions of the Congolese on rubber plantations owned by Belgium led to drastic reforms in Africa. He subsequently performed a similar service for workers on British rubber plantations in South America. In 1911 he was knighted for his humanitarian efforts and in 1912 he resigned from foreign service due to illnesses contracted during his work in foreign countries.

"Loyalty is a sentiment, not a law."
—Sir Roger Casement

Casement returned to Ireland and became interested in the movement for Irish freedom from British rule. He journeyed to Germany and the United States seeking support for an Irish insurrection. In April 1916 Casement received a

pledge of aid from Germany but it proved inadequate. He returned to Ireland hoping to curtail the planned Easter Rebellion, but British authorities apprehended him upon his arrival.

Accused of treason, Casement was put on trial. To add to the sensationalism of the proceedings and the case against him, several of Casement's diaries were publicly distributed. These diaries contained accounts of practices considered to be homosexual in nature. Casement was not given the opportunity to confirm or deny the validity of the diaries and the genuineness of the papers is still in question today.

The evidence against Casement was sufficient for a conviction and he was sentenced to be executed. Originally a Protestant, Casement converted to Roman Catholicism shortly before his death. On August 3, 1916, he was hanged in Pentonville Jail in London, England.

Casement, Sir Roger

views updated May 29 2018

Casement, Sir Roger (1864–1916). Humanitarian and Irish hero. As British consul in the Congo Free State and then on the Amazon, Casement uncovered European atrocities against natives which stimulated powerful and mainly effective protest campaigns in Britain, and earned him a knighthood in 1911. He then returned to his Irish roots, and collaborated with Britain's German enemies during the First World War, for which he was hanged in 1916 after landing from a German submarine near Tralee to help the Easter Rising. In order to mute the predicted Irish-American protest, the British secret services surreptitiously circulated private diaries revealing his homosexual proclivities.

Bernard Porter

Casement, Sir Roger David

views updated Jun 08 2018

Casement, Sir Roger David (1864–1916) Irish humanitarian and revolutionary. While a British consul (1895–1912) he exposed the exploitation of rubber-gatherers in the Belgian Congo and similar iniquities in South America. During World War I he sought aid for an Irish nationalist uprising, and was executed for treason after the British secret service had tried to destroy his reputation by publishing the Casement diaries.

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Sir Roger David Casement

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