Comhairle Cathrach & Contae Phort Lairge Waterford City & County Council
Dr. Daniel W. Stowell. Director, Center for Digital Initiatives, 112 North Sixth Street, Springfield, Illinois 62701, U.S.A.
15th December, 2014.
Dear Dr. Stowell,
Your letter of 28th October 2014 refers.
As we all mark the centenary of the assassination of President Lincoln the people of Waterford in Ireland are reminded of the letter of condolences sent by the then Mayor and City Council to the representatives of the people of the United States.
As we reflect on the fateful events of a century ago we here in Waterford are also reminded of the close relationship that existed between the President and Thomas Francis Meagher a son of Waterford who came to fame as the commander of the Irish Brigade in the Union Army during the American Civil War.
For Meagher, the United States of America was indeed the land of freedom and liberty and it is no wonder that he made his home in America following his failed revolution in Ireland in 1848. In one of his famous speeches in Ireland Thomas Francis Meagher described America as 'a giant nation sprang up from the waters of the Atlantic... once a fettered colony and now a daring free Republic'. This concept of America as a land of freedom and liberty would be echoed in many of Meagher's subsequent speeches. Speaking in 1854 he outlined his view of his new home, 'I have been cast from a wreck upon these shores and here, in this broad domain consecrated into liberty... I have laid in hope the foundations of my future home because here Labour is Nobility-here Democracy is Sovereignty'
For Meagher this concept of fredom and liberty was embodied in the American Declaration of Independence, its constitution and most improrantly in the concept of the Union. Meagher passionately believed in the Union and like Abraham Lincoln he strongly believed that if the Union failed, the concept of liberty would also failed and the beacon of liberty and freedom would be quenched not only in America but also throughout the world.
Like Lincoln, Meagher was deeply opposed to slavery. As early as 1841 when still at school he won a silver medal for an anti-slavery essay. He was present at City Hall in Waterford on 9 October 1845 to greet Frederick Douglass, the African-American who was born a slave in Maryland and escaped to become the forthright abolitionist and the author of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Waterford City and County Council, City Hall, The Mall, Waterford Comhairl Cathrach angus Contae Phort Lairge, Halla na Cathrach, An Meal, Port Lairge
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0761 10 20 20 www.waterfordcouncil.ie
Indeed Meagher was an enthusiastic supporter of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in late 1863. Today a plaque on the facade of City Hall commemorates this important visit to our city. Fittingly opposite City Hall stands an equestrian Statue of Thomas Francis Meagher whose love of Liberty and of his adopted country is commemorated annually.
Sadly and tragically following the assassination of President Lincoln Meagher was honoured to be chosen as one of the pall berarer when the President's body lay in state.
President Lincoln left a legacy that has not only stood the test of time but is also one that continues to bring us back the most basic principle of all human existence - not just the right to equality but the responsibility to defend that equality and liberty.
Lincoln was ultimately successful in preserving the Union and extending the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence to all - regardless of creed or colour. Though his legacy was born in turmoil of the Civil War the cause he championed is as relevant today as it was 150 years ago.
It is our sincere wish that the Tree of Liberty planted by the Founding Fathers of your great nation and nurtured so tenderly by Abraham Lincoln will continues to flourish and scatter its seed through the world.
May I wish you every success with this exhibition and I look forward to viewing it when it is published.
( hand written signature)
Cllr. Lola O'Sullivan Mayor of the Metropolitan District of Waterford