Edward de Valera was born in the Spanish-Irish family in New York City and was raised in Ireland by his grandmother. He graduated in mathematics in 1904 from the Royal University of Ireland and taught at various Dublin colleges. In 1908 de Valera joined the Gaelic League. In 1913 he also joined the Irish Volunteers and actively participated in the preparations for the Easter Rising of 1916. After a week of fighting against the British troops he was captured. De Valera was court-martialled, convicted, and sentenced to death, but the sentence was immediately commuted to penal servitude for life. He served 14 months in jail and was released in June 1917. Shortly after, he won a by-election in East Clare to the House of Commons. At a convention in October 1917 he was elected president of the Sinn Féin party. In May 1918 he was arrested again and put in a jail for agitation against extending conscription to Ireland. In the General Election of December 1918 de Valera was returned for East Mayo. De Valera escaped from Lincoln Jail on 3 Feb 1919 and returned to Ireland to be elected President of the Ministry ("Príomh-aire") by Dáil Éireann on 1 Apr 1919. In June 1919 de Valera departed for the United States to secure the official recognition of the Irish Republic and to seek for the support of the Americans. He came back to Ireland in December 1920 amidst a raging War of Independence. After months of guerilla warfare against the British forces, a truce was declared on 11 Jul 1921 and negotiations were opened culminating in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 6 Dec 1921. Four months earlier, de Valera was re-elected as President of the Dáil Éireann (26 Aug 1921) according to the new constitution of the Irish parliament. After a long and bitter debate in the Dáil, the Treaty was accepted on 7 Jan 1922 with 64 votes in favor and 57 against. As an opponent of the Treaty, de Valera tendered his resignation to the Dáil (9 Jan 1922), and the motion of his supporters to re-elect him failed the same day (58 in favor, 60 against). During the ensuing Civil War (1922-1923) between the pro-Treaty Provisional Government under Michael Collins and its opponents, de Valera fully supported the Republicans. A meeting of the Army Executive at Poulatar, Ballybacon (17 Oct 1922) adopted a proclamation reinstating de Valera as President. The "Emergency Government," as de Valera called it in his autobiography, was established on 25 Oct 1922. In May 1923 the chief of staff of the republican forces ordered the army to cease fire and de Valera issued a proclamation (24 May 1923) effectively ending the resistance. De Valera was arrested on 15 Aug 1923, as he was about to make a speech at Ennis. However, he had not formally resigned the Presidency; in fact, in a letter of 31 Jul 1923 (to the widow of Erskine Childers) he mentioned that he had appointed Patrick J. Ruttledge, his Minister of Home Affairs, as "my substitute", "until my return or until a new President is elected." Arrested in August 1923, de Valera was again elected as a deputy for Clare in the general election held on 27 Aug 1923. He was released in July 1924 and later formed (June 1926) a new party, Fianna Fáil ("Warriors of Ireland"), which won 44 seats out of 155 in the general election of June 1927. This success was followed by further expanding of the number of seats in Dáil, when Fianna Fáil secured 72 seats and became the largest parliamentary party. De Valera was nominated President of the Executive Council on 9 Mar 1932 and formed the first Fianna Fáil government, which made further steps to the full independence of Ireland. The next general election in January 1933 gave Fianna Fáil an overall majority (77 seats). With the abdication of King Edward VIII in December 1936, Dáil Éireann passed the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act (12 Dec 1936) limiting the British authority to representation of the Irish Free State in foreign affairs. On 21 Jul 1937 the 9th Dáil Éireann reelected de Valera as President of the Executive Council. He formed his third government and also assumed the portfolios of Minister for External Relations (1937-1948) and Minister for Education (1937-1940). In 1937 the government of de Valera secured the enactment of a new Constitution, which put an end to the Irish Free State and proclaimed Ireland an independent nation. According to the Constitution of 1937, the office of the President of the Executive Council was replaced with that of Taoiseach (Prime Minister), which de Valera automativally occupied when the Constitution came into effect on 29 Dec 1937. Served as President of the General Assembly of the League of Nations (12 Sep 1938 - 30 Sep 1938). The Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1938 ended the economic war with Great Britain and handed back the ports that Britain had held under the Treaty of 1921. Ireland remained neutral during World War II opposing pressure from Germany, Britain and the United States. After the war the position of Fianna Fáil began to weaken and in 1948 it was ousted from power by the first coalition Government, with John A. Costello as Taoiseach. De Valera, as leader of the opposition, embarked on a world campaign on the partition question demanding unification with Northern Ireland. In 1951 he was back in power but without an overall majority. In 1954 Fianna Fáil was again defeated in a general election, and the second coalition Government took office, but this, like the first, lasted only three years. At the general election of 1957 de Valera won an absolute majority of nine seats, the greatest number he had ever secured. His last bid at constitutional reform failed when the Irish people, by referendum, rejected his proposal that proportional representation be replaced by the direct vote. At the general election of 1957 de Valera's party won an absolute majority of nine seats, the greatest number it had ever secured. His last bid at constitutional reform failed when the Irish people, by referendum, rejected his proposal that proportional representation be replaced by the direct vote. On the same day (17 Jun 1959) he was elected President of Ireland in succession to Sean T. O'Kelly, defeating General Seán MacEoin by a comfortable majority. As President he received many distinguished visitors, including Presidents Charles de Gaulle and John Kennedy. In 1964, at the age of eighty-one, he visited Washington and addressed Congress. He was re-elected President in 1966 and retired from politics at the age of 90 when his second term was completed.
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