In October 1791 Tone converted these ideas into practical policy by founding, in conjunction with Thomas Russell (1767-1803), Napper Tandy and others, the society of the "United Irishmen."
Tone did not feel himself bound in honour by his compact with the government at home to abstain from further conspiracy; and finding himself at Philadelphia in the congenial company of Reynolds, Rowan and Napper Tandy, he undertook a mission to Paris to persuade the French government to send an expedition to invade Ireland.
JAMES NAPPER TANDY (1740-1803), Irish rebel, son of a.
In April 1780 Tandy was expelled from the Dublin volunteers (see Flood, Henry) for proposing the expulsion of the duke of Leinster, whose moderation had offended the extremists.
Tandy persuaded the corporation of Dublin to condemn by resolution Pitt's amended commercial resolutions in 1785.
The violence of his opinions, strongly influenced by French revolutionary ideas, now brought Tandy prominently under the notice of the government.
Tandy then took proceedings against the lord lieutenant for issuing a proclamation for his arrest; and although the action failed, it increased Tandy's popularity, and his expenses were paid by the Society of the United Irishmen.
In the following year Napper Tandy took a leading part in organizing a new military association in Ireland modelled after the French National Guards; they professed republican principles, and on their uniform the cap of liberty instead of the crown surmounted the Irish harp. Tandy also, with the purpose of bringing about a fusion between the Defenders and the United Irishmen, took the oath of the Defenders, a Roman Catholic society whose agrarian and political violence had been increasing for several years; but being threatened with prosecution for this step, and also for libel, he fled to America, where he remained till 1798.
None of these was more quarrelsome than Napper Tandy, who was exceedingly conceited, and habitually drunken; his vanity was wounded to find himself of less account than Tone in the councils of the conspirators.
Wolfe Tone, who a few months before had patronizingly described him to Talleyrand as "a respectable old man whose patriotism has been known for thirty years," was now disgusted by the lying braggadocio with which Tandy persuaded the French authorities that he was a personage of great wealth and influence in Ireland, at whose appearance 30,000 men would rise in arms. Tandy was not, however, lacking in courage.
Napper Tandy, who was drunk during most of the expedition, took possession of the village of Rutland, where he hoisted an Irish flag and issued a bombastic proclamation; but learning the complete failure of Humbert's expedition, and that Connaught instead of being in open rebellion was perfectly quiet, the futility of the enterprise was apparent to the French if not to Tandy himself; and the latter having been carried on board the "Anacreon" in a state of intoxication, the vessel sailed round the north of Scotland to avoid the English fleet, and reached Bergen in safety, whence Tandy made his way to Hamburg with three or four companions.
Tandy remained in prison till April 1801, when he was tried, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to death; he was, however, reprieved and allowed to go to France.
This leniency may have been partly due to doubts as to the legality of the demand for his surrender by the Hamburg authorities; but the government was probably more influenced by Cornwallis's opinion that Tandy was "a fellow of so very contemptible a character that no person in this country (Ireland) seems to care the smallest degree about him."
Notwithstanding his vices and his lack of all solid capacity, there is no reason to suppose that Napper Tandy was dishonest or insincere; and the manner in which his name was introduced in the well-known ballad, "The Wearing of the Green," proves that he succeeded in impressing the popular imagination of the rebel party in Ireland.