March 4, 1778

Robert Emmet, one of Ireland’s most famous revolutionaries, was born in Dublin on this day in 1778. Though he was born a wealthy Protestant, his family sympathized with the Irish Catholics and the American Revolution, and they became friendly with Irish nationalist revolutionaries. Emmet entered Trinity College, Dublin, at age fifteen, where he became involved with political activism. He was expelled in 1798 when it was discovered that he was serving as Secretary to a secret United Irish Committee. He organized the 1803 Rebellion, but unsuccessfully attempted to call off the uprising, which was quickly deteriorating into chaos. Emmet then went into hiding, but was captured, tried for high treason, and ordered hanged, drawn and quartered.

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