From the very first edition of the Citizen, 7th January 1854.
The principal conductors are, in the first place, Irishmen by birth. In the second place, they are men who have endured years of penal exile at the hands of the British Government, for endeavouring to overthrow the dominion of that Government in their native country. In the third place, they are refugees on American soil, and aspirants to the privileges of American citizenship.
The principles and conduct of their new Journal will be in accordance with their position, their memories, and their aspirations. They refuse to believe that, prostrate and broken as the Irish nation is now, the cause of Irish independence is utterly lost.
They refuse to admit that any improvement in the material condition of those Irishmen who have survived the miseries of the last seven years (if any improvements there be) satisfies the honour, or fulfils the destiny, of an ancient and noble nation.
They refuse to believe that Irishmen at home are so abject as to be ‘loyal’ to the Sovereign of Great Britain, or that Irishmen in America can endure the thought of accepting the defeat which has driven them from the land of their fathers, and made that beloved land an object of pity and contempt to the whole earth.
The movement of all the Western and Southern nations of Europe is towards Republicanism. After a few years of dismal ‘peace’ and ‘order‘ — after lying like a corpse, motionless, breathless, from her last giant struggle — with the fetters of her tyrants weighing down her limbs, and their bayonets at her breast — Europe is again ripening fast for another bursting forth of the precious and deathless spirit of freedom. The dumb masses of English life — men voteless, landless, rightless, who labour for ever in mines and factories, who have no part in the government of their own land, no interest in the oppression of Ireland, in the plunder of Asia, or in the European balance of power — those masses, we apprehend, were not finally crushed into the earth on the loth of April, 1848, as some persons believe — they are finding voice and spirit again. Germany and Italy are not dead — Hungary is not even asleep. War already rages in Europe; other wars are threatening — that is to say, promising; and all over Europe and America there are eyes watching and hearts burning for the occasion to turn all diplomacy and war to good account for the cause of Republican Freedom. Mankind is once more becoming charged with the electricity of Revolution, and one of the poles of that battery we believe to be situated somewhere in or about New York.
The conductors of “THE CITIZEN” desire to awaken again the national spirit and ambition of Ireland – to evoke and stimulate among Irishmen a noble zeal to aid and to partake in the great march of European Democracy. The sovereigns and aristocracies of Europe being banded together against the Peoples, we intend to promote, as far as in us lies, a fraternal alliance of the Peoples against the sovereigns and aristocracies.
One powerful obstacle to such a fraternal alliance has hitherto been the hypocritical pretence to “liberalism” made by the British government. The Conductors of “THE CITIZEN” mean to devote their most earnest efforts to strip off that sanctimonious pretence, and to exhibit the English power in its true character, as not only the oppressor of Ireland, but the oppressor of England, and the ally of oppression all the world over. Intending, themselves, to be true and loyal American citizens, they will recommend no course of policy which would isolate the Irish or other European refugees from the common action of this great Republic. They will inculcate, and with all their power assist, a careful, loving study of those wise and just institutions under which, here in America, they have found both a refuge from their enemies, and a school and example of the grand doctrine they mean to enforce. To become in good faith citizens and armed soldiers of America, is to enlist under the banner of Universal Democracy. They will bear for ever in remembrance the heavy debt of gratitude which expatriated Irishmen owe to America, for her powerful protection and her ready sympathy; and will piously watch and prepare for an occasion to discharge that sacred debt.
They will be zealous in the task of reconciling the various factions which, on both sides of the Atlantic, have distracted and weakened the cause of Ireland, and have always given her enemies an easy victory.
The Conductors of this Journal intend to make trial how many Irishmen, how many votaries of Democracy militant in Europe, and of Democracy victorious in America, will agree with them in these principles, and help them in striking this alliance. Soon they will be enabled to know whether they are labouring to any good end. They do not think of spending their whole lives in thrashing the water, or in “moving dishes of skimmed milk.” They do not mean to be likened unto the Jews, for ever calling Palestine their country, and waiting for the restoration of King David’s dynasty; or the Welsh, watching, generation after generation, for the return of Arthur; or the soldiers of the Millennium, eternally girding on their swords for the day of Armageddon. While British tyranny still grinds Ireland – while Irish spirit still breathes and burns in passionate revolt against it, they will labour in their chosen work. At any rate, and, in the mean time, they know that the honest and fearless preaching of Truth and Justice must bear good fruit, both for Ireland and for America.