Roger Casement

Sir Roger Casement was born in September 1, 1864 in Dublin, Ireland.  He went to Africa in 1884 where he first worked for commercial interests before joining the British Colonial Service.  He initially believed that European colonization of Africa would bring moral and social progress to the African continent and free its inhabitants.  But he learned that this was not the case.

Casement traveled in the upper Congo Basin to interview workers, overseers, and anyone he could about conditions in the region. In 1904 he wrote and submitted a report to the British government that exposed “the enslavement, mutilation, and torture of natives on the rubber plantations.”  This report, which came to be known as the Casement Report, served as grounds for the extinction of the Congo Free State in 1908. He exposed similar conditions in South America as was knighted for his services.  But these efforts earned Casement countless enemies.

Casement joined the Gaelic League, established in 1893 to preserve and revive the speaking and literature of the Irish language.  He became impressed with the new Sinn Fein party, which called for Irish independence through a series of non-violent strikes and boycotts.

Roger Casement retired from the British consular service in the summer of 1913. In July 1914, he traveled to the United States to raise money among the large Irish community here. Later that year initiated contact with Germany officials about Germany selling guns to the Irish and provide military leaders so the Irish could revolt against England.  Germany was interested because they thought this would take England’s attention away for England’s war with Germany. In April 1916 Germany offered the Irish 20,000 rifles, ten machine guns and ammunition.  It was far less than Casement had hoped for and did not include an military expertise. The German weapons never reached Ireland.

While journeying back to Ireland, Casement suffered a recurrence of the malaria that had plagued him since his days in the Congo, and was put ashore at Banna Strand in County Kerry.  Too weak to travel, he was found there by the British and arrested on charges of treason, sabotage and espionage against the Crown.  He was tried and convicted of high treason.

What sealed his fate was the admission of evidence from his diaries. Meticulously kept, they recorded all of Casement’s sexual encounters, itemizing, both the amount of the transaction for those that involved cost, and the size of the man’s endowment.  Some of those entries made for sensational evidence in 1916:

“Stanley Weeks, 20, stripped, huge one, circumsized; swelled and hung quite.”

“Huge tram inspector… stiff as sword and thick and long.”

“Mario: Biggest since Lisbon July, 1904 and as big.”

“Beautiful muchacho… black and stiff as poker.”

“Enormous 19 about 7″ and 4 thick; into me.”

“I to meet enormous 9; will suck and take too.”

While Casement had been arrested and tried and convicted of high treason, it was this information about his homosexuality that signed his death sentence. Following his conviction, many from around the world protested, but to counter these protests, the British government leaked  word of the contents of Casement’s “black diaries.”

Though the authenticity of the diaries has been argued for one hundred years, the consensus seems to be that they are real and were written by Casement.  Though he kept his gayness almost totally out of sight, the diaries reveal that Casement had many partners and had a fondness for young men. He also seems to have mostly paid for sex.

Casement’s knighthood was withdrawn in 1916.  He was hanged on August 6, 1916, mostly for just being gay.  Another life senselessly taken for something that harmed no one.

Roger Casement: Modern era allows for a new understanding of an extraordinary man.

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