After the United States entered the Great War in 1917 diplomatic and military missions from various European nations came to speak to Wilson Administration officials and engage in public diplomacy with the American people. One hundred years ago today T.P. O’Connor of the Irish Nationalist Party met with President Wilson n the White House. The meeting seemed to go well. O’Connor had arrived in the United States on June 24 and set up headquarters at the Knickerbocker Hotel at 42nd and Broadway in Manhattan. The affable and indefatigable Irish politician and writer had audiences with as many as forty individuals on any given day before moving on to Washington. The war was an obvious topic of discussion wherever O’Conner went. One of his visitors was John Purroy Mitchel, the New York City mayor who was one of the strongest supporters on America’s entry into the war. In a speech in early July during the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg he went out of his way to mention the Irish Brigade and Thomas Francis Meagher. Meagher was not at Gettysburg but the audience understood the sentiment.
O’Connor’s primary objective, as he readily acknowledged, was garnering support for the Irish Nationalists in the lead-up to the Home Rule Convention to be held in London in late July. The reason for so many meetings was to gauge the sentiments of the Irish-American community. His was a difficult task. It was just fifteen months after the Easter Uprising and representatives from Sinn Féin were coming to the United States shortly after O’Connor returned to London.
(top image/New York Public Library)