Michael Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, a member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations, and both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Free State Army.
Michael Collins first became known during the Easter Rising in 1916. He was a skilled organizer of considerable intelligence and he was highly respected. Collins realized that after the Easter Uprising that they could not beat the British Army in conventional war. Collins said for Ireland to beat the British and gain independence “they had to change the rules”.
During the Irish War of Independence he ensured the avoidance of "becoming sitting targets", with his soldiers waging a guerrilla war against the British, suddenly attacking and then just as quickly withdrawing, minimizing losses and maximizing effectiveness. Collins began to use informants, assassins, and bombers to bring the British Government to its knees.
Collins worked closely with Eamon de Valera, who was the elected President of Ireland after the Irish declared independence. After spending time in prison for his role in the Easter Uprising, De Valera was broken out of jail by Collins, Harry Boland and other IRA men. While Collins favored gurailla warfare, De Valera favored a traditional war against the British. De Valera wanted to petition the US Government to help the Irish gain their independence from Great Britain and felt Collins tactics portrayed them as murderers. However, Collins felt that the only thing the British understand is force and that the IRA must step guerrilla war against the British. Others in Ireland like Arthur Griffith wanted to use civil disobedience and non-violence.
While in America, De Valera did not get an audience with US President Woodrow Wilson and but pushed Collins to continue the conventional war against Britain. The British tried every means possible to stop the Irish Revolutionaries The British set up black and tan units to find the IRA men and kill them. Heavy fighting continued and British Prime Minister Llyod George authroized using any means of force. In 1920, British black and tan units opened fire at a rugby match at Croke Park. They murdered 24 innocent civilians at the stadium, while wounding several hundred. The incident became known as Bloody Sunday. By 1920, the death tolls were beginning to rise. Many British police officers no longer wanted to report to work out of fear they could be target in Collins IRA guerilla war campaign.
In 1921, a truce was called by both sides. The British government wanted to set up a treaty to give Ireland some independence. The members of the revolution wanted complete independence from the British. De Valera asked Michael Collins to represent Ireland in the treaty negotiations. De Valera argued that since the British did not know Collins, they would be scared of him and would give the Irish what they wanted. Collins felt he was not the right man for the job since he was a soldier and not a politician. Collins reluctantly took the job.
The Anglo-Irish treaty negotiated by Collins called for dominion status for Ireland. The treaty would create the Irish Free State. Ireland would have their own government but would still have to swear alligence to the British Monarch. Ireland would also be partioned with six counties in the north remaning part of Great Britian. Collins said it was the best deal he could get. Collins argued that they should accept the treaty and end the bloody war with Britain. Others like De Vallera argued against the treaty and said the fight should continue. Eventually the Irish Dail and Irish peoeple vote to approve the treaty. DeValrea called for a civil war. A 10-month civil war broke out between the two sides, with Collins being killed by anti-treaty IRA men. Eventually, DeValrea would accept the treaty. However, it would take until the 1948 for Ireland to get complete independence from Britain. The northern counties to this day still belong to the British.
Questions: (write answers on back and attach this sheet to any video questions you missed in class)
What way did Michael Collins feel was the only way the Irish could beat the British?
What did Eamon de Vallera favor at first?
What did British Prime Minister Lloyd George do in response to the violence?
Why did they choose Collins to negotiate the treaty?
What happened at Croke Park?
What were the terms of the treaty?
Who favored the treaty and who was against it?
Would you have been for or against the treaty if you were an Irish Citizen?