In 1763, on this day the Northern Whig Theobald Wolfe Tone (pictured) was born in Dublin, the son of a Church of Ireland coach-maker, Peter Tone, who had a farm near Sallins, County Kildare.
article by Jackie SpeelIn 1783 he found work as a tutor for Richard Martin a prominent supporter of Catholic Emancipation before studying law at Trinity College, Dublin. He became active in the debating club, the College Historical Society, and was elected to a leadership position. Then a pamphlet attacking the administration of the Marquess of Buckingham brought him to the notice of the Whig club; in September 1791 he wrote an essay by "A Northern Whig", ten thousand copies of which were said to have been sold.
But despite the maturiy of his political thought processes, he admitted that his hatred of England had always been "rather an instinct than a principle". Nevertheless, he converted his radical ideas into practical policy by founding the Society of the United Irishmen with Thomas Russell Napper Tandy. However at the same time, he realised that his goals were unattainable by constitutional methods and began conspiring to establish an Irish republic by armed rebellion which had been underway since 1745.
Like the American revolution, this uprising would never have succeeded without the intervention of the French; on this occassion, it was Napoleon Bonaparte, who cancelled his Egyptian Expedition to give the Irish rebels his full active support. And yet it was Tone's heroism at Buncrana on Lough Swilly that swung the pendulum of fate. Despite early setbacks and the pressure to surrender, a raid under Admiral Bompard, with General Hardy in command of a force of about three thousand men managed to defeat an English Squadron on 12 October 1798. It was the pivotal moment when the Irish Revolution was said to have begun in earnest.