Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward.

No. 1288.]

Sir: Having received an intimation from Lord Stanley that he would like to see me, I called at the foreign office yesterday, and had an interview with him. His object he said was to make a statement to me in regard to the demand by you for copies of the record of the trial of Lynch and McMahon in the court of Canada, for participation in the attack on Fort Erie. Accordingly he read from a memorandum the statement herewith transmitted as copied from the paper left by him with me for the purpose. I remarked to his lordship that inasmuch as I had not been the medium of communication through which this demand was made, it might be perhaps advisable for me to endeavor to define to him my impression of the nature of the case as gathered from the documents supplied for my information, so that I might be corrected if I was wrong. I understood that your demand for the copies referred to had been made in the first place in a letter to Sir Frederick Bruce, and through him to the authorities in Canada; that the question thus made had been referred by the latter to her Majesty’s government for consideration and a decision here; that the paper now read to me was that decision, which in substance was intended to grant the application, at the same time precluding any inferences that might be drawn from the concession as a matter of right; and lastly that this paper had been placed in my hands with a view to my transmission of a copy of it to my government.

His lordship assented to this statement of the transaction, and the conversation on the subject dropped, with a remark on my part that I should at once transmit the paper as desired.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

Substance of a statement made to Mr. Adams.

We cannot admit that the United States government are entitled, as of right, to demand copies of the record of the trial and conviction of the prisoners Lynch and McMahon, but we see no objection to copies being furnished in this case; and though declining to give an absolute pledge, we shall, as a general rule, not object to supply them in future cases.

Her Majesty’s government will, undoubtedly, examine the judicial proceedings, as requested by Mr. Seward, with a careful regard to the rights of the United States, and to maintenance of good relations; but, in doing so, we must guard ourselves against the supposition that we regard the local tribunals as likely to deal with the cases before them otherwise than justly.

As to the adoption, generally, of a policy of leniency, it is to be observed that such has been for many years past the custom of the British government in political cases, e. g., in 1848, when Smith O’Brien made his attempt at insurrection. We think that policy sound, and intend to follow it, but with this reservation, that, if leniency fails in its effect, and fresh disturbances are attempted, we may be compelled, with whatever reluctance, to adopt a different course.