Casement, Sir Roger David

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Casement, Sir Roger David

Sir Roger David Casement pursued an illustrious career in the British Foreign Service. His achievements were overshadowed by his campaign for Irish nationalism, which eventually led to his trial and execution. Casement was born September 1, 1864, in Dublin, Ireland. From 1892 to 1904 and from 1906 to 1911, Casement made several noteworthy contributions to the field of British consular service. His investigation of the brutal working conditions of the Congolese on rubber plantations owned by Belgium led to drastic reforms in Africa. He subsequently performed a similar service for workers on British rubber plantations in South America. In 1911 he was knighted for his humanitarian efforts and in 1912 he resigned from foreign service due to illnesses contracted during his work in foreign countries.

"Loyalty is a sentiment, not a law."
—Sir Roger Casement

Casement returned to Ireland and became interested in the movement for Irish freedom from British rule. He journeyed to Germany and the United States seeking support for an Irish insurrection. In April 1916 Casement received a pledge of aid from Germany but it proved inadequate. He returned to Ireland hoping to curtail the planned Easter Rebellion, but British authorities apprehended him upon his arrival.

Accused of Treason, Casement was put on trial. To add to the sensationalism of the proceedings and the case against him, several of Casement's diaries were publicly distributed. These diaries contained accounts of practices considered to be homosexual in nature. Casement was not given the opportunity to confirm or deny the validity of the diaries and the genuineness of the papers is still in question today.

The evidence against Casement was sufficient for a conviction and he was sentenced to be executed. Originally a Protestant, Casement converted to Roman Catholicism shortly before his death. On August 3, 1916, he was hanged in Pentonville Jail in London, England.

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Also on This Day: 1460: James II, King of Scotland, killed during the siege of Roxburgh Castle; 1778: La Scala opera house opened in Milan; 1887: Birth of poet Rupert Brooke; 1914: Germany declared war on France and the first ship passed through the Panama Canal; 1916: Irish nationalist Sir Roger David Casement executed for treason; 1924: Death of novelist Joseph Conrad; 1955: Half the audience walks out when Samuel Beckett's classic play, Waiting for Godot, was performed for first time at the Arts Theatre in London; 1963 The Beatles played The Cavern in Liverpool for the last time.
Anniversaries: 1778: La Scala opera house opened in Milan; 1914: Germany declared war on France and first ship passed through the Panama Canal; 1916: Irish nationalist Sir Roger David Casement executed for treason; 1955: Half the audience walks out when Samuel Beckett's classic play, Waiting for Godot, was performed for first time at Arts Theatre in London.