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THE TRIAL OF BAT SHEA: A Lecture with Music

March 30, 2016 @ 6:30 pm

Eventbrite - THE TRIAL OF BAT SHEA: A Jack Casey Lecture with Music

NO IRISH NEED APPLY!  Dressed in black hoods, members of the secret American Protective Association (APA) practiced bizarre rituals to promote hatred and bigotry toward Irish Catholics.  Although Irish Americans had dug the canals and laid the rails for the nation’s infrastructure, they still labored in sweat shops at the whim of factory owners. Winning political power was their sole path to counter ruling class oppression, but Irish political success fanned resentments that could only end in violence, as it did in Troy, New York in March of 1894.


State Democrat Boss Ed Murphy, a Troy brewer, US Senator and Tammany loyalist, maintained total power by voter fraud and violence until one of his henchmen fatally shot Protestant poll-watcher Robert Ross.  APA Wizard Frank Black saw how he could turn public outrage for Ross’s murder to his own political advantage using an Irish scapegoat.  With no knowledge of the facts, Black declared Bartholomew “Bat” Shea the culprit, and publicly vowed to see Shea executed and Murphy dethroned.  Black ran Shea’s criminal prosecution behind the scenes, personally conducting witness interviews, burying inconsistent testimony and illegally advising the grand jury.  Bat Shea was convicted of first degree murder and sent to the electric chair.


Three days before Shea’s execution, another man confessed.  The governor stayed Shea’s execution to see if a new trial was warranted.  Knowing that any scrutiny would expose how he railroaded Shea and thereby end his political career, Frank Black manipulated public opinion to prevent a new trial.  Bartholomew Shea, a semi-literate saloon thug, met his death with courage, humility and transcendent forgiveness.  Five thousand Irish millworkers followed Shea’s hearse in a blinding snowstorm to lay him to rest.  The day after Shea’s execution, New York Republicans nominated Frank Black for governor, and that fall he won.  


Jack Casey, attorney, songwriter and author, will bring this true American-Irish tragedy to life at the American Irish Historical Society on March 30, 2016, enhancing his talk with dramatic songs he wrote for the stage play. Casey has told the story of Bat Shea in many formats most recently completing its screenplay.

The Society will host a short reception with refreshments following the presentation.

AIHS Members & Students: Free

General Admission: $10


Eventbrite - THE TRIAL OF BAT SHEA: A Jack Casey Lecture with Music


March 30, 2016
6:30 pm


American Irish Historical Society
991 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028 United States
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The American Irish Historical Society
The American Irish Historical Society is a cultural institution featuring a library and archive, public arts programming, and events space.
991 Fifth Avenue
New York
United States

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