Image (Above): "De Valera in Custody," RTÉ Archives, 1916
"But there were many times when the key in my jail cell door was turned, and I thought that my turn had come."
- Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was an Irish commandant in the Rising and one of the 90 rebels sentenced to death. Unlike the other rebel leaders, de Valera retained American citizenship.
"De Valera explained that he had lived in Ireland since his early childhood, but he was born in New York City, and because of his American citizenship, the British were reluctant to kill him."
- John F. Kennedy
The executions of the rebel leaders took place during World War I, and the British had established a vital alliance with the United States. Because of de Valera’s citizenship, Maxwell grew hesitant in executing him. With the delay and de Valera’s citizenship, Éamon de Valera was excused from execution.
"After the executions and the release of some of the prisoners the nation reorganised itself. The fight was going to be carried on." - Éamon de Valera
"'Somebody called de Valera, sir.'
'Who is he? I haven’t heard of him before.'
'He was in command of Boland’s bakery in the Ringsend area.'
'I wonder would he be likely to make trouble in the future?'
'I wouldn’t think so, sir, I don’t think he is important enough. From all I can hear, he is not one of the leaders.'
'All right then.'"
- General Maxwell and William Wylie, British Commander
The British compromised on letting Éamon de Valera live to maintain their robust relationship with the United States. However, this compromise proved to be much more revolutionary in its impact, forever changing the course of Irish history.