Mitchel’s travels in Ireland during the Famine had a huge and lasting effect on him, cementing his determination to champion the people of no property.
‘ … husband and wife fought like wolves for the last morsel of food in the house; families, when all was eaten and no hope left, took their last look at the sun, built up their cottage doors, that none might see them die or hear their groans .. ‘
When Lord Russell introduced a new Irish Coercion Bill in winter 1847, Mitchel advocated passive resistance and spoke of arming the people to defend themselves.
The differences with Duffy, O’Brien, D’Arcy Magee and the other Young Irelanders came to a head and in December Mitchel and Devin Reilly seceded from the Nation newspaper.
Mitchel was now able to voice his radicalism more openly. In January 1848 he resigned from the Council of the Confederation. However he remained as President of his local St Patrick’s Confederate Club in Dublin and (unlike the case with his former friend Duffy) he remained friends of a sort with other Confederates, despite the fact that the majority rejected Mitchel’s views on class warfare.
In February 1848 Mitchel formed his own newspaper, the United Irishman. There was no doubt the inspiration came from Tone and the Republican leaders of a half-century before. Mitchel however did not espouse secrecy but openly called for class warfare and insurrection.
… more later …