Lawrence E. Cline’s new book Rebels on the Niagara: The Fenian Invasion of Canada, 1866 (SUNY Press, 2017) takes a look at what is now largely considered a footnote in history, the American invasion of Canada along the Niagara Frontier.
The group behind the invasion – the Fenian Brotherhood – was formed in 1858 by Irish nationalists in New York City in order to fight for Irish independence from Britain.
At the end of the American Civil War, Fenian leaders attempted to enlist Irish Americans, many of them combat veterans, to seize Canada and make it the “New Ireland” as a means to force the British from “old” Ireland.
New York State was both the epicenter of Fenian leadership and a key support base and staging area for the military operations. Although relatively short-lived the Fenian Brotherhood had an important impact on nineteenth-century New York and America, but remains largely forgotten.
In Rebels on the Niagara Lawrence E. Cline examines not only the Fenian operations and their impact on Canada, but also the role the United States and New York played in both the initial support for the Fenian movement and its subsequent collapse in America.
Lawrence E. Cline is Lecturer in Intelligence Analysis at Buffalo State College, State University of New York. He is the author of The Lord’s Resistance Army.
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