Irish Fenian Invasions of Canada - Malone, NY
N 44° 51.006 W 074° 16.732
18T E 556984 N 4966551
Quick Description: An historical marker located at the Franklin County fairgrounds along Highway 11 in Malone, New York, mentions that Malone was the site for two Irish Fenian invasions of Canada.
Location: New York, United States
Date Posted: 10/30/2011 5:30:19 AM
Waymark Code: WMCZF1
The historical marker reads:
FRANKLIN CO. FAIR
Held here since 1852 and
described by L.I. Wilder in
Farmer Boy. Marshalling
site for two Irish Fenian
invasions of Canada.
"Fenian Movement was an Irish-American organization created by John O'Mahony in 1858. The movement raised money, supplied equipment, and trained leaders to help the Irish Republican, or Revolutionary, Brotherhood uprising against Great Britain. Fenian membership rose to 250,000, and in 1865 the movement established an "Irish Republic" in New York and issued bonds to finance its activities. The group focused much of its attention on the Irish cause in Canada. In 1866, for example, a dissatisfied Fenian faction broke from the organization, crossed the border at Fort Erie, defeated Canadian troops, and returned to Buffalo, New York. U.S. officials halted reinforcements and arrested the raiders, but eventually released the captives. American troops checked similar invasions from Saint Albans, Vermont, and Malone, New York.
After failing in an earlier attempt against New Brunswick, Canada, the Fenians participated in the republican revolutionary movement in Ireland and sent a vessel loaded with arms and men across the Atlantic in 1867. Fenian involvement in British affairs complicated American foreign policy during the 1860s and 1870s. The Canadian government, for example, treated imprisoned American Fenians as British subjects, which strained relations between the United States and Great Britain. Fenians captured by the British also tried to use their American citizenship to draw their adopted country into a naturalization controversy. Unsuccessful in their objectives, and under growing pressure from the federal government and the Roman Catholic church, many Fenians left the movement and joined the Land League and Home Rule movements. The Fenians held their last congress in 1876 and the movement collapsed following O'Mahony's death in 1877."
"The plan of attack, devised by the Fenian secretary of war who had been a U.S. Army major during the Civil War, called for multiple invasions: across the Vermont-Canadian border; from Malone and Potsdam in New York to the Canadian towns of Cornwall and Prescott, then north to Ottawa and Montreal; across Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to Stratford and London in order to gain control of an important railway terminal; and incursions to capture Toronto and major waterway and railway centers. The Fenians had some reason to believe that the U.S. government would recognize an Irish republic on captured British soil, as President Andrew Johnson and his Secretary of State, William Seward, anxious not to antagonize Irish-American voters, reportedly stated that the U.S. would "acknowledge accomplished facts," in the words of historian William D'Arcy, when they were informed by a Fenian delegation about the group's vague intentions to seize territory in Canada. No official U.S. commitment, however, ever was committed to writing."