Mr. Ford to Mr. Seward
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that I duly communicated to my government copy of the note you did me the honor to address to me on the 4th ultimo, relative to the case of Robert B. Lynch, who was convicted for the Fenian raid into Canada in 1866. I now regret to inform you that I have been instructed by Lord Stanley, her Majesty’s principal secretary of state for foreign affairs, to state that her Majesty’s government can find no reason to justify a further mitigation of the sentence passed on him.
Robert B. Lynch, after a full and patient investigation, and on evidence which appeared fully to have justified his conviction, was sentenced to death, which sentence, however, was commuted to imprisonment for a term of 20 years.
Her Majesty’s government have every disposition to take a merciful view of offenses which may have arisen in part from ignorance or perverted sentiment, but they also owe a duty to the peaceful inhabitants of Canada, whose country had been the object of a criminal attack, and would not be discharging that duty if they allowed it to be supposed that persons who, like Lynch, shared in the invasion of an unoffending country, could escape the punishment which their acts had invited on the ground of an allegation which, even if it were true, would amount to no more than this: that his object was not to engage personally in any act of violence, but only to give encouragement to those who did so.
I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, &c., &c., &c.