Tone, Theobald Wolfe

Tone, Theobald Wolfe,

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 IrishmenUnited Irishmen
or United Irish Society,
Irish political organization. It was founded at Belfast in 1791 by Theobald Wolfe Tone. Disgruntled by the use of English patronage to control Irish politics, the organization aimed at legislative reform "founded on the
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), 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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Tone, Theobald Wolfe


Born June 20, 1763, in Dublin; died there Nov. 19, 1798. Irish revolutionary and democrat.

In 1791, Tone helped found the United Irishmen, a society of patriotic revolutionaries. He campaigned tirelessly for the independence of Ireland, for civil, political, and religious equality, and for the establishment of a democratic Irish republic. In 1795, after the society was outlawed, Tone was forced to leave Ireland. He went first to the United States and then to France. There, both before and during the Irish Rebellion of 1798, he sought to persuade the French government to send an invasion force to Ireland in aid of the insurgents. After the rebellion was suppressed, Tone was seized aboard a French warship and taken to Dublin, where he was sentenced to be hanged. On the eve of his scheduled execution, however, Tone attempted suicide and died several days later.


The Autobiography, vols. 1–2. London, 1893.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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