These amazing photographs, archived by the US Library of Congress, show Irish women and children in peaceful protest outside the White House, on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC. Taken in 1920 they show the protesters displaying angry signs against, the incumbent president, Woodrow Wilson’s failed promises to support Ireland in its fight for Independence.
Irish Americans in the Democratic party, along with Irish groups such as Clan na Gael, opposed the United States entering into World War I alongside the British, especially after the violence of the Easter Rising in 1916.
In 1917 Wilson had promised the Irish that he would approach Britain and attempt to garner Ireland their independence.
The Irish were especially angry as it was the Irish American votes, along with the German American, that had won Wilson the presidential election in 1916, with his slogan of “He kept us out of war”.
In 1919 at the Paris Peace Conference, it was clear that Wilson had reneged on his promise to the Irish-American community. They denounced him. By 1920 events such as the Black Tom and Kingsland Explosions on American soil and the Irish anti-conscription crisis of 1918 were an embarrassment to the President.
By 1920 Ireland had two home ruled states within the British Empire. Although this satisfied Wilson the majority of Irish and Irish Americans supported a full republic.
The American Committee for Relief in Ireland was set up in 1920 to assist victims of the Irish War of Independence and some Irish-American Senators joined the "Irreconcilables" who blocked the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles and US membership of the League of Nations.
Of the $5,500,000 raised by supporters of the Irish Republic in the United States in 1919-20, the Dublin parliament (Dáil Éireann) voted in June 1920 to spend $500,000 on the American presidential election.