'Most formidable champion of Ireland's cause'
'This is not true! This is not true!" The shocked reaction of Kevin O'Higgins, upon hearing of the death of Michael Collins on August 22, 1922, reflected the response of many Irish people. O'Higgins, soon to be appointed minister for home affairs, hoped it must be "some fantastic devilish lie", and he refused to accept that "the greatest man that ever served this nation's cause" had fallen. In the days ahead he mourned "the infinite pathos of it", the way "that brain, with all its wonderful potentialities", had been "dashed out by fratricidal bullet", linking Collins' vision to that of Abraham Lincoln, who likewise had been assassinated at the end of the American Civil War, he suggested that Collins had died to establish the foundations of the state, to vindicate the principle of democratic government, and to ensure that "government of the people by the people" should not be allowed to perish from the land.