The Fenian movement had practically expired; some annual motions for the introduction of Home Rule, made with all the decorum qf parliamentary usage, had been regularly defeated.
On the other hand, Canadian feeling had been equally exasperated by the Fenian raids, organized on American soil, which had cost Canada much expenditure of money and some loss of life.
He was a proficient in medicine, among other qualifications for this post, and he remained for years on intimate terms with the most extreme men in the Fenian organization under all its forms. His services enabled the British government to take measures which led to the fiasco of the Canadian invasion of 1870 and Riel's surrender in 1871, and he supplied full details concerning the various Irish-American associations, in which he himself was a prominent member.
At the beginning of 1866 Lord Russells government thought itself compelled to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act In Ireland; and in 1867 Lord Derbys government was confronted in the spring by a plot to seize Chester Castle, and in the autumn by an attack on a prison van at Manchester containing Fenian prisoners, and by an atrocious attempt to blow up Clerkenwell prison.
His murderer, a Fenian acting under the instructions of the secret society to which he belonged, was discovered, and executed in 1869.
The Fenian element was with him, as he admitted, but the clergy were against him, and the odds were too great, especially against a Protestant politician.
The same course was adopted in Ireland in 1866 during a Fenian rising.
The close of the American Civil War, the Fenian raids across the American border, and the dangers incident to the international situation, gave a decisive impulse to the movement.
From the age of 13 he belonged to the Canadian volunteer militia, with which he saw service in 1870 at the time of the Fenian raids.
An imperial guarantee of a loan for the construction of railways was the only compensation Canada received for the Fenian raids.