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Sir Roger David Casement

Casement, Sir Roger David, 1864–1916, Irish revolutionary. While in British consular service, he exposed (1904) the atrocious exploitation of wild-rubber gatherers in the Congo (thus helping to bring about the extinction of the Congo Free State in 1908) and later (1910–13) exposed similar conditions in South America (but was ultimately unsuccessful in ending them). He was knighted for his humanitarian work in 1911. Although an Ulster Protestant, Casement became an ardent Irish nationalist. After the outbreak of World War I he went first to the United States and then to Germany to secure aid for an Irish uprising. The Germans promised help, but Casement considered it insufficient and returned to Ireland in Apr., 1916, hoping to secure a postponement of the Easter Rebellion (see Ireland). Arrested immediately after landing from a German submarine, he was tried, convicted, and hanged for treason. To further blacken his name, British agents circulated his diaries, which showed him to be a homosexual. The diaries were probably genuine, but the manner of their use led to controversy about the possibility of forgery.

See biographies by P. Singleton-Gates and M. Girodias (1959) and B. Inglis (1974); J. Goodman, The Devil and Mr. Casement (2010).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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