History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/John Brennan
JOHN BRENNAN, a notable Irish-American orator, rose from a lowly position to a national reputation. He was born at Elphin, county of Roscommon in Ireland, on the 14th of July, 1845, and was educated in the schools of his native town. While a boy he imbibed a strong aversion to the English Government for the wrongs it had inflicted upon his countrymen and, seeing no hope for escape from oppression, he determined to emigrate to America where he arrived in 1865, without money or friends and was employed as a railroad grader, teamster, porter and farm hand, for the first four years, and while thus earning a living he determined to study law. In 1867 he was employed by A. J. Poppleton, a prominent lawyer of Omaha, and found time evenings to begin his studies. He persevered until he was admitted to the bar and entering upon the practice he soon developed a remarkable power as advocate before a jury and was on the way to great success in the profession when he became afflicted with deafness to a degree that rendered it necessary for him to seek some other occupation. In 1869 he became a writer on the Sioux City Times, where he was employed five years. He became a member of the city council and was chosen city attorney where he developed wonderful eloquence as a public speaker. He took a deep interest in public affairs and was one of the most effective stump speakers in the State. Mr. Brennan never forgot the wrongs of his native land at the hands of the English oppressors and no one could recount them with more fervid eloquence. His fame had become national and, in 1884, when James G. Elaine was the Republican candidate for President, John Brennan received an invitation from “the plumed knight” to accompany him on his remarkable speaking campaign through the east. During the agitation in America in behalf of Home Rule in Ireland Mr. Brennan was closely allied with Patrick Egan and John P. Finnerty, taking a conspicuous part in the national gatherings of the Irish leaders. He was a devout Catholic and during the later years of his life, gave most of his time to editorial work on The Northwestern Catholic, published at Sioux City. He died suddenly on the 5th of October, 1900.