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"Proceedings on the Trial of the Dominic Daley and James Halligan"
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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In 1806, two Irish Catholics, Dominic Daley and James Halligan, were unjustly accused and hung for killing a traveler on the Springfield-Boston Road. A local boy implicated Daley and Halligan who, at the time, were en route from Boston to New York City. The murder caused a great stir in predominately Protestant Massachusetts, which was experiencing its first waves and mounting fear of Irish Catholic immigrants. In this document, the defense attorney noted that Protestant New Englanders hold that "inveterate hostility against the people of that wretched country, from which the Prisoners have emigrated (Ireland)." Prejudice against the Irish was a carry-over from the English belief that the Irish were "a barbarous people," a conviction which enabled the English to force Irish Catholics from their land starting in the seventeenth century. Following the Revolutionary War, Americans debated the meaning of liberty and how far the new civil rights extended. Daley and Halligan's lawyer appeals to the jury to apply these rights in this trial by reminding them to, "ensure to them a fair and impartial trial ?(d)o not therefore believe them guilty, because they are Irishmen, but viewing them as your countrymen, remember you are sworn to believe them innocent, until every reasonable doubt of the guilt is removed from your minds".
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