Tone, Theobald Wolfe

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Tone, Theobald Wolfe

Theobald Wolfe Tone, 1763–98, Irish revolutionary. He was called to the bar in 1789 but soon turned his attention to politics. Inspired by the example of the French Revolution, he helped found (1791) the United Irish Society (see United Irishmen), which worked to unite Roman Catholics and Protestants in a common cause against English oppression of Ireland. He played a leading role in the Catholic convention of 1792 that pressed the British government to pass the Catholic Relief Act (1793). In 1794 he was implicated in the intrigues for a French invasion of Ireland, but was allowed to leave the country for the United States. He negotiated (1795) with the French minister concerning French aid in an Irish rebellion and in 1796 went to Paris. He organized several ill-fated expeditions to Ireland, finally joining one intended to aid the 1798 rebellion in Ireland. The force he accompanied was defeated by an English squadron off Lough Swilly (Donegal), and Tone was captured. He was court-martialed and convicted of treason, but he committed suicide before his execution could be carried out. He was the author of a number of political pamphlets. These, with his autobiography and journals, were edited (1826) by his son.

See his letters (ed. by B. Hobson, 1920); biography by M. Moriarty and C. Sweeney (1989).

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