Mr. Seward to Sir F. Bruce
Sir: The Secretary of War has laid before the President several despatches which were received yesterday and to-day from Major General Meade, who is commanding the United States forces on the Canadian frontier.
These communications warrant the President in believing that the so-called Fenian expedition is now entirely at an end, and that order and tranquillity may be expected to prevail henceforth upon that border.
I regret, however, that I am obliged to connect with this gratifying information the further statement that reports have reached Major General Meade to the effect that some Canadian or British troops have crossed the line, and entered within the territory and jurisdiction of the United States. It is even said that this entry took place after the disturbers of the peace, under the command of the leader named Spear, had relinquished their forbidden enterprise, and withdrawn within the boundary line of the United States.
The reports go so far as to say that prisoners have been taken on the soil of the United States and conveyed to Canada, and that the Canadian agents have threatened that these prisoners, together with such stragglers as may now be found within the Canadian lines, will be immediately executed, without legal trial.
It is believed that these reports are exaggerated. Care has been taken by Major General Meade to have them promptly investigated. In the mean time I am instructed by the President to represent to you, and through you to the British and Canadian authorities, that this government could not look without serious concern upon the practice of any unnecessary severity, and especially upon the exercise of retaliation, or other illegal proceedings, upon the persons of such of the offenders as have fallen, or shall hereafter fall, into the hands of the Canadian authorities. I respectfully invite your attention to this subject, with [Page 238] a confident expectation that no proceedings that shall not be authorized by and be in conformity with law, will be taken against persons of that class, and in the hope that even the customary administration of the law will be tempered with special forbearance and clemency.
In view of the effective proceedings which this government has adopted in regard to the disturbances on the frontier, now so fortunately ended, these representations would have been made by me without waiting to be moved from any other quarter. They are now made, however, with the approval of Major General Meade, and I believe that they will receive the concurrence of the Congress and the people of the United States.
I have the honor to be, sir, with the highest consideration, your obedient servant,
The Hon. Sir Frederice W. A. Bruce, &c., &c., &c.