John Mitchel (Irish: Seán Mistéal; 3 November 1815 – 20 March 1875) was an Irish nationalist activist, author, and political journalist. Born in Camnish, near
Dungiven, County Londonderry[1] and reared in Newry, he became a leading member of both Young Ireland and the Irish Confederation. He was transported to Van Diemen's Land but later escaped to the United Statesin the 1850s, he became a pro-slavery editorial voice. Mitchel supported the Confederate States of America during theAmerican Civil War, and two of his sons died fighting for the Confederate cause. He was elected to the House of Commons of the United Kingdomin 1875, but was disqualified because he was a convicted felon. His Jail Journal[2] is one of Irish nationalism's most famous texts.



Pro-slavery advocacy


Mitchel claimed that slaves in the southern United States were better cared for and fed than Irish cottiers, or industrial workers in English cities like Manchester. He said negroes were "an innately inferior people". Mitchel resigned from the paper and toured as a spokesman for the South. In 1857 in Knoxville, Tennessee, he founded a new paper, the Southern Citizen, to promote "the value and virtue of slavery, both for negroes and white men", advocate the reopening of the African slave trade and encourage the spread of slavery into the American West.[21] He moved the paper to Washington in 1859. When the Civil War broke out in 1861 he moved to Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, to edit the powerful Richmond Enquirer.[27] As a spokesman for the cause of the South, he was the first to claim that slavery and abolition were not the cause of the conflict but simply used as a pretence. Two of his sons died in the war, and a third lost an arm. He equated the Confederacy with Ireland, claiming that both were agricultural economies tied to an unjust union. The Union States and England were "..the commercial, manufacturing and money-broking power ... greedy, grabbing, griping and grovelling".



Mitchel fell out with Jefferson Davis, whom he regarded as too moderate. He described Abraham Lincoln as "... an ignoramus and a boor; not an apostle at all; no grand reformer, not so much as an abolitionist, except by accident – a man of very small account in every way."[28]




Mitchel moved to New York City in 1865 to edit the Daily News. The Tweed Machine put him in prison for a short time but he was released with the assistance of the Fenians. Slavery was dead and Mitchel returned his focus to the issue of Ireland. He founded his third American newspaper, the Irish Citizen in New York City, but the paper failed to attract readers and folded in 1872. In part this was because he used it to criticise the Irish-born Catholic archbishop of New York, John Hughes. Mitchel worked for a time in Paris as financial agent for the Fenians before again returning to the States.



Mitchel's Irish nationalism went over the line into Anglophobia. According to Malcolm Brown, Mitchel hated almost everything he came across, including the Jews and Britain.[29]




John Mitchel - Wikipedia

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A significant number of Gaelic Athletic Association clubs are named in his honour, including Newry Mitchel's GFC in his home town, John Mitchel's Claudy, Castlebar Mitchels GAA, John Mitchel's Glenullin, John Mitchel's Liverpool and others both north and south of the border, as well as several in England and Australia.


A statue to Mitchel was also erected by the people of Newry, and is located at John Mitchel Place, an extension of Newry's main street, Hill Street.