Lord Stanley to Mr. Thornton.
Sir: The United States chargé d’affaires at this court has communicated to me a dispatch which he has received from Mr. Seward, bearing date June 22, 1868, in which Mr. Seward alludes to the frequent remonstrances and expostulations which have been addressed on the part of the United States government to her Majesty’s government against the imprisonment of Messrs. Warren and Costello in this country, and complaining that the judicial severity maintained by her Majesty’s government in these cases tends to embarrass the friendly relations between the two countries, and to protract the political excitement which has unhappily for some time disturbed the peace of the British realm and the British provinces adjacent to the United States.
Mr. Seward, in the same dispatch, alluded to his having on many occasions urged on the British government, though without success, the necessity of a modification of the laws of the British realm in the case of subjects of Great Britain who have become citizens of the United States under their naturalization laws. Mr. Moran also communicated to me, by Mr. Seward’s desire, a copy of the resolution of the House of Representatives, dated June 15, requesting the President to take such measures as shall appear proper to secure the release of Messrs. Warren and Costello, convicted and sentenced for words and acts spoken and done in the United States, by ignoring the United States naturalization laws.
Of the two questions dealt with in this dispatch, that which relates to the naturalization laws has been already treated of by me in the confidential dispatch No. 135, which I addressed to you on the 16th ultimo, reporting the substance of a conversation which I had had with Mr. Moran. To the reasons there assigned as against the immediate conclusion of a treaty on that subject I have nothing to add, and I cannot doubt but that the explanations already entered into will satisfy the government and people of the United States of the sincere desire of her Majesty’s government to dispose of this question in a manner which shall be satisfactory to both countries.
As regards the imprisonment of Messrs. Warren and Costello, I have to point out to you that the allegation on which Mr. Seward’s request [Page 432] for their release is founded, viz, that they were convicted and sentenced for words spoken and acts committed in the United. States, rests on a total misconception of the facts of the case.
These prisoners were convicted of treason-felony at the commission court for the county of Dublin, held in October last; the most prominent overt act insisted upon and proved against them being that they had come over to Ireland and cruised along the coast with intent to effect a landing of men and arms in Ireland, in order to raise insurrection against the Queen.
The evidence adduced against these prisoners in the course of the trial, of words spoken and acts committed by them in the United States, was given in strict accordance with the rules of law, as part of the testimony connecting them with a Fenian conspiracy which had existed in the county of Dublin, in which county the commission court sat; and which conspiracy had for its object the subversion of her Majesty’s authority and the establishment of a republic in Ireland.
You will read this dispatch to Mr. Seward, and leave a copy of it with him.
I am, &c.,
Edward Thornton, Esq., C. B., &c., &c., &c.