Robert Emmet

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Robert Emmet (4 March 1778 – 20 September 1803) was an Irish nationalist, orator and rebel leader born in Dublin, Ireland. He led an abortive rebellion against British rule in 1803 and was captured, tried and executed for high treason. [1] [2] [3]

Robert Emmet came from a family who were wealthy Protestants who sympathized with the Catholics who did not have fair representation in English Parliament. The Emmet family also sympathized with the American Revolution. From a very early age Robert Emmet’s political and social aspirations views were defined. As an orator, some of his last words were made in a speech on the eve of his execution. [3]


Emmet's early life

Robert Emmet was born in Dublin on 4 March 1778. He was the youngest son of Dr Christopher Emmet (1729–1802), a court physician, and his wife, Rebecca Temple(1739–1803). The Emmets were financially comfortable, with a house at St Stephen's Green and a country residence near Milltown. One of his elder brothers was the nationalist Thomas Addis Emmet, a close friend of Theobald Wolfe Tone, who was a frequent visitor to the house when Robert was a child.

Robert Emmet entered Trinity College, Dublin in October 1793, at the age of fifteen. In December 1797 he joined the College Historical Society, a debating society. While he was at college, his brother Thomas and some of his friends became involved in political activism. Robert himself became secretary to secret United Irish Committee in college, and was expelled in April 1798 as a result. That same year he fled to France to avoid the many arrests that were taking place in Ireland. While in France Emmet garnered the support of Napoleon who had promised to lend support when the upcoming revolution started. However, due to an explosion at one of the rebel safe houses, the plan for a revolution was exposed. This prompted Emmet to move ahead of plan with the rebellion and as premature events unfolded the military support that Napoleon had promised never materialized and ultimately the rebellion failed. [2]

After the 1798 rising, Robert Emmet was involved in reorganizing the defeated United Irish Society. In April 1799 a warrant was issued for his arrest, and he escaped, and soon after, travelled to the continent in the hope of securing French military aid. His efforts were unsuccessful, and he returned to Ireland in October 1802. In March the following year, he began preparations for another rising.

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