No. 32 NAI DE 2/245

Eamon de Valera to all members of the Cabinet (Dublin)

The Waldorf Astoria, New York, 10 March 1920

A cháirde,
Dr. McCartan will be with you by this time. He will be able to make things clear to you. There is no fear of damage being done at this side - it is all for the better, for, now I have a good reason for not being content to let the Judge [Cohalan] alone be the intermediary for us in political matters. I intend getting an immediate grip myself on these questions with five or six prominent Irish Americans as an advisory and executive committee. Heretofore everything was left to the Judge in this line and I never knew after he had left me that he wouldn't go and do something quite different from that he had led me to believe he intended doing - in future he will be only one of a number and the others will be a check on him.

Apart from any personal antagonism to me he desired to build up a great I-American organisation which might make the Irish here dominant in political life here. He would have this organisation he figured in his vest pocket and would be a political Warwick. Ireland would be secondary. I desired that Ireland's interests should come first - the other second. I held that the I.[rish] here were organised not in their own interests here so much as to help Ireland. I held that the money contributed was obtained in the belief that it would be used as directly as possible for Ireland.

Our first clash came about the bonds. He pooh poohed idea of bonds in any shape - He called F.P. Walsh aside when he came here and suggested that I be sent home with 3/4 million dollars - 'The biggest sum any Irish leader ever brought to Ireland'. He wanted the money collected thro' the F.O.I.F. organisation which was quite inadequate to such a task. When I wouldn't be moved by him he simply lay down and had since to be carried in the bond matters as a dead weight. Next I saw he wouldn't play fair with me. He was going around talking behind our backs etc.

Then I wanted to be let into the political steps which he was going to take. I would not trust the Republican party nor any party as a party. The example of the Liberals and Tories and the Irish cause used as a mere catch cry till polling day was in my mind. I wanted to get results now - before election times. We have little chance to my mind after. He didn't want me to go near the political end at all - anyhow the rift was developing. I did my best to stop it. I knew of letters being sent to Paris, people going home being buttonholed and stuff poured into their ears - I said nothing - but others knew about it and then an effort was made to stop the talking which was going on as the result of the methods they were employing.

The idea was to light if they could a fire which would need my going home as they thought. I once said to the Judge that I was regarded as a 'moderate' at home. He thought he saw his chance by twisting my argument re Britain's national security out of its plain and obvious meaning - hence the appeal 'I have confidence in the young men of Ireland'. The distance they were prepared to go is shown by the fact that they sent to Harry to tell him that he would not be living up to the principles of Wolfe Tone if he did not leave me immediately and I suppose denounce me for 'lowering the flag'. Well his messenger was near finding himself thro' a window of the Waldorf. The significance of this is that they were prepared to do the damage to the cause which such action would have done for the sake of a purely personal triumph. Suppose my argument - and it was only an argument - was regarded with disfavour by them - they could have made their representations to me in private. They will never get me to go every time I want to answer an opponent's argument - to them to dot my i's and cross my t's. It is disgusting to me to have to write this but I want to give you the background so that you may understand. No one knew the meaning of what I wrote better than they. I quoted the part of the Platt amendment (the first article) which was germane to the point I was making - I wouldn't personally accept any more of it - but if I accept one or several even of the 39 articles of the Protestant creed surely it cannot be said that that means I must accept them all. I only ask you at home to remember that I never say anything here which I would not say at home. I do not believe in the old parliamentarian policy of one sort of speech for America and another for Ireland. I am never likely to forget my responsibilities but I admit I do not weigh every word and every sentence of a speech and of an interview as if it were a treaty I was actually signing. That interview1 which I would be prepared to defend anywhere has been productive of a great deal of good here with people who imagine we want our freedom only for the sake of being in a position to use it to take revenge on Britain. In England I expected it would give a chance, to those who wanted a way out, to talk about the existing republic. It was bound to be all to the good. It would be a counterblast to those who would proclaim that the Republic was 'unthinkable' and that Home Rule the only solution etc. I am satisfied you all understood me and were it not the cry raised by the G.[aelic] A.[merican] (i.e. the judge really) no one would have misconstrued it here. There are Americans even I. Americans who would not see Ireland free if an unfree Ireland was likely to be of benefit to America but they are not thank God many.

Do not worry the cause is going on well. I am more optimistic than when I came here. What you are doing is magnificent. Especially the guerrilla warfare making the enemy forces concentrate. I have a South American project in view - also Russia. I may have letters for the Doc.2 to take to Russia by the next mail. We ought to try to get recognition before they settle with Britain.

If you think the Doc. can return soon you should have a long chat with him - and exchange ideas. I will not trust many more letters like this. It is dangerous.

By the way - a good rapid shorthand-writer and stenographer is an absolute necessity for me - a young fellow if possible. One that can be thoroughly depended upon. I should have brought one with me. Get him as quickly as ever you can.

Eamon de Valera

Please excuse me to friends for not writing. I would like to write to you all individually but I am sure you will understand. I hope all are well. We understand all the difficulties now in your way. The Americans are beginning to realise how wonderful your resistance is.

P.S. Dr. McC. will tell you the steps in the evolution of the Judge. We have some magnificent men here - F. P. Walsh, Kinkead; J. K. Maguire, Burke Cochran, McGarrity, T.J. Moloney; in fact except the one I have never met one who isn't with us.

Eamon de Valera

1 The so-called 'Cuban interview' with the Westminster Gazette; see Maurice Moynihan (ed.), Speeches and Statements of Eamon de Valera 1917-73 (Dublin, 1980), pp. 31-35.
2 Dr Patrick McCartan.

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