to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
London, March 14, 1882. (Received March 27.)
Sir: Referring to Mr. Davis’ Nos. 316 and 317 of the 10th of February last, and my No. 322 of the 24th of that month, I have the honor to acquaint you that as I stated in that dispatch the information required by the resolution of the House of Representatives is so comprehensive [Page 202] that it will be impossible to furnish it with any degree of completeness until after considerable delay.
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I presume, however, that what is chiefly desired by the House is information as to the arrest and imprisonment of American citizens in Ireland under what is commonly called the “coercion act.” And I propose in this dispatch to transmit so much of this information as has come to my knowledge with a copy of the correspondence on the subject.
The act entitled “An act for the better protection of person and property in Ireland,” became a law on the 2d day of March 1881. Its most important provision is contained in the first paragraph of the first section, which enacts that:
Any person who is declared by warrant of the lord lieutenant to be reasonably suspected of having at any time since the 30th day of September, 1880, been guilty, as principal or accessory, of high treason, treason-felony, or treasonable practices wherever committed, or of any crime punishable by law committed at any time since the 30th day of September, 1880, in a prescribed district, being an act of violence or intimidation, or the inciting to an act of violence or intimidation, and tending to interfere with or disturb the maintenance of law and order, may be arrested in any part of Ireland and legally detained during the continuance of this act in such prison in Ireland as may, from time to time, be directed by the lord lieutenant, without bail or main-prize; and shall not be discharged or tried by any court without the direction of the lord lieutenant, and every such warrant shall, for the purposes of this act, be conclusive evidence of all matters therein contained, and of the jurisdiction to issue and execute such warrant, and of the legality of the arrest and detention of the person mentioned in such warrant.
The remaining paragraphs and sections relate to the form of the warrant, the treatment of arrested persons, and other particulars for carrying out the provisions of the act and limiting its operation to the 30th day of September, 1882.
It is unnecessary to show that this law is arbitrary and severe and contrary to the spirit and fundamental principles of the British constitution. This is admitted by all, and by none more readily than by the government which framed it and the large majority in Parliament which enacted it. But they assert that the condition of Ireland was such that nothing short of an extreme measure like this could meet the difficulty.
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I proceed now to give an account of all the cases of arrests in Ireland, in respect to which my intervention has been requested.
As early as the 12th of February, 1881, before the “coercion act” became a law, Mr. M. B. Fogarty, of Knockelly, addressed to me a letter stating he had been imprisoned for two months and fined because, as he averred, he chanced to be in the house of his cousin the previous May, when the sheriff came to evict her. He had then been released. I wrote him on the 15th of February, 1881, requesting him to send me his naturalization papers and the report of his trial. On the 22d he sent me his naturalization papers and certain extracts from newspapers, but no report of his trial at the assizes.
It appeared from the magisterial investigation that Fogarty with others was in the house “at Kilburry, resisting the retaking of possession by the sheriff.”
I wrote him on the 24th that his being an American citizen did not protect him from the consequences of breaking the laws of the country in which he was residing and that the right to a “mixed jury” which he had suggested, if any such institution existed in Ireland, did not apply to his case. I stated also I should not intervene except under [Page 203] the directions of the Department of State. I inclose a copy of this letter.
On the 6th of March, 1881, I received a further letter from Mr. Fogarty inquiring what would be my action in case of his arrest under the “coercion act.” I replied to him on the 8th of March that whenever this contingency should arise I should give the matter my best attention, but that it would be impossible for me to state my opinion upon a hypothetical case. I also forward a copy of this letter. This is the last communication I have had from this gentleman.
The next case was that of Mr. Michael Boyton, about which I have given full information to the Department of State in my Nos. 140, of the 12th of March; 144, of the 21st of March; 147, of the 25th of March; and 154, of the 7th of April, 1881, forwarding a copy of all the correspondence.
My action in this case was fully approved by the Department in its Nos. 138, of the 31st of March, and 166, of the 26th of May, 1881.
The case that followed was that of Mr. Joseph B. Walsh, which was first presented to me by Mr. Barrows, the consul at Dublin, on the 21st of April, 1881, and afterwards by the Department of State. My proceedings and correspondence in this matter were fully reported in my dispatches Nos. 193, of the 4th of June; 205, of 18th of June, and 218, of 15th of July, 1881.
Mr. Hoppin’s dispatch, No. 220, of the 14th November, 1881, announced the release of Mr. Walsh, and forwarded a copy of his discharge.
On the 26th of May, 1881, the Department of State, by a telegram, called my attention to the case of Joseph D’Alton, or Dalton, and afterwards by Mr. Blaine’s dispatch, No. 168, of the 27th of May, 1881. I communicated my action in this matter in my dispatches Nos. 193, of the 4th of June; 205, of the 18th of June, and 218, of the 15th of July, 1881.
On the 8th of June, 1881, Mr. William Simms, the vice-consul at Belfast, wrote to me in relation to Daniel McSweeney, or Sweeney, who was confined in Dundalk prison, inclosing a letter from Mr. John Cormick, another from McSweeney, and the latter’s naturalization certificate. I received these documents on the 10th of June, and on the same day I wrote to Mr. Sims, requesting him to “examine closely into the grounds” of Sweeney’s arrest, and if it should appear to him that he was innocent of the charge, to make a representation to the authorities and request his release or immediate trial. On the same day I wrote to Lord Granville, requesting to be informed of the particulars of the charge against McSweeney, and stating the latter’s assertion of his entire innocence.
On the 17th of June Lord Granville informed me that this case had been referred to the proper department of Her Majesty’s Government. On the 21st of June Mr. Sims sent to me a letter from Mr. Burke, the under-secretary at Dublin castle, stating the grounds of McSweeney’s arrest. I acknowledged the receipt of this on the 24th of June.
On the 28th of June Lord Granville informed me that Her Majesty’s Government, in McSweeney’s case as well as in that of Mr. Walsh, above mentioned, could not recognize any distinction between the liability of foreign citizens and British subjects in respect of unlawful acts committed within the limits of British jurisdiction. I sent a copy of this letter in my dispatch No. 218 of the 15th of July, with the correspondence relating to Walsh’s case.
On the 14th of July McSweeney wrote me a further communication [Page 204] from Dundalk jail, which Mr. Simms forwarded to me in his letter of the 16th, and which I received on the 18th of that month. Immediately upon the reception of this I addressed a private and unofficial communication to a gentleman connected with Her Majesty’s Government, upon whose intelligence and sense of justice I could entirely rely, repeating McSweeney’s assertion, that so far from using language inciting to riot, he had always advised the people whom he addressed to keep within the limits of the law, and I inquired whether if this were true it would not be possible to give a favorable consideration to his case. In answer to this I was confidentially advised that McSweeney’s conduct had clearly brought him within the provisions of the “coercion act,” and that it was not in the power of Her Majesty’s Government to grant his release.
On the 17th of September, McSweeney wrote me again, demanding my intervention in his behalf. As I had received no information from the vice-consul, whom I had desired to examine closely into the grounds of his arrest, confirming his own statements of his innocence, and as it seemed to me clear, from the best examination I had been able to give to the matter, and even from his own admissions, that his case was not an exceptional one, but that it resembled, in its essential particulars, that of the majority of British subjects arrested under the act, I wrote him on the 22d of September, declining to interfere further in his favor. He wrote me another letter on the 27th of September, to which I replied, and another on the 13th of October last, to which I did not think proper to make any answer. I herewith inclose a copy of this correspondence.
On the 17th day of June, 1881, Consul-General Badeau sent me a communication from Mr. E. P. Brooks, the consul at Cork, dated on the 15th of that month, covering a letter from Mr. Henry O’Mahoney, of Bally-dehob, in the county of Cork, of the 12th of June, stating his imprisonment at Limerick jail, under the “coercion act,” and requesting intervention to procure his release as a naturalized citizen of the United States, a certificate of such naturalization being forwarded with the papers.
On the 22d of June, Mr. Brooks wrote to the consul-general additional facts in relation to this case; and on the 15th of July, Mr. O’Mahoney addressed me directly, asking my intervention in his favor. On the 19th of July, the day of the receipt of this letter, I sent my answer, stating my views, generally, in respect to the rights of American citizens arrested under the “coercion act.”
On the 21st of July, Mr. Brooks and Mr. O’Mahoney both wrote again, repeating the latter’s request for my intervention.
On the 3d of August, I wrote to Mr. Brooks, the consul at Cork, referring in particular to the case of Mr. McEnery, to be afterwards mentioned, but by implication to this request of Mr. O’Mahoney, and stating my inability to grant the desired favor.
A copy of this letter was sent to the Department of State with my dispatch No. 235, of the 11th of August, 1881. I inclose herewith a copy of the other letters relating to this case of Mr. O’Mahoney.
In the matter of Mr. McEnery, above alluded to, Mr. Brooks, the consul at Cork, wrote to me on the 30th of July, as to the imprisonment of that gentleman in Limerick jail, inclosing his naturalization papers, and requesting my intervention. On the 3d of August, the day this letter was received, I sent the reply which I have hereinabove mentioned, declining to make any application on Mr. McEnery’s behalf. I communicated this correspondence to the Department in my No. 235 of [Page 205] the 11th of August last, in which I expressed the hope that my action in this case would meet with the approbation of the Department. I beg to say that I have not received any intimation that it was not so approved.
On the 29th of October last Mr. J. R. Tinsley, the United States consular agent at Limerick, addressed a letter to Mr. Barrows, the consul at Dublin, inclosing a communication for Mr. James F. Daly, who was imprisoned in Limerick jail under the “coercion act,” and also his certificate of naturalization, and requesting that the minister should demand for him a trial or speedy release. Mr. Barrows asked for instructions in this matter. Mr. Hoppin, who was at the time in charge of the legation, wrote Mr. Barrows, on the 2d of November last, that if Mr. Daly could show that the acts for which he had been imprisoned were of less gravity and importance than those for which any British subjects had been arrested, and if his incarceration had been due to mistake or misapprehension, Mr. Hoppin would take pleasure in bringing his case to the attention of Her Majesty’s Government, and asking for his speedy release.
No further communication in relation to this arrest has been received at this legation. I inclose a copy of the material part of this correspondence.
On the 9th of December last Mr. Blaine, by his dispatch No. 285, instructed me to bring the subject of the arrest of Mr. Dennis H. O’Connor to the attention of the foreign office, and, upon being informed as to the facts of the case, to take such action, in my discretion, as might seem to be called for by the circumstances.
I received this dispatch on the 23d of December, and on the same day I addressed a note to Lord Granville, to which his lordship replied on the 30th, stating that the matter had been referred to the proper department of the government.
On the 26th of January last Lord Granville wrote to me that the government would consider whether O’Connor could be discharged. A copy of these notes of the 23d of December and 26th of January was sent on the 30th of January, 1882, with my dispatch No. 300 of that date.
On the 2d of February last I received a further note from Lord Granville, acquainting me that Mr. O’Connor could not safely be released at present. I forwarded a copy of this communication with my No. 305 of the 4th of February.
On the 30th of January, 1882, Mr. Barrows, the consul at Dublin, addressed me in relation to the case of Mr. James White, and on the 31st in relation to that of Mr. Philip O’Sullivan. I answered these letters on the 2d of February last, and herewith forward a copy of the correspondence.
The last of these cases which have been brought to my attention was that of Mr. Michael Hart, which was communicated to me by Mr. George B. Dawson, the vice-consul at Queenstown, through the consul-general at London. Mr. Hart did not at that time ask my intervention, but simply desired that the fact of his arrest should be noted. I replied to Mr. Dawson’s letter on the 3d day of February. On the 7th of that month Mr. Merrett transmitted to me a formal application from Mr. Hart for my interference on his behalf. I replied to this letter on the 10th of February.
On the 13th of February last I received your instruction, No. 313, of the 3d of January, in relation to this arrest, and on the 14th of February I requested Mr. Dawson, the vice-consul at Queenstown, to make particular [Page 206] inquiries in regard to this matter; and on the 23d of February I received two letters from that gentleman, dated on the 17th and 18th, accompanied by communications from Mr. Hart himself. Mr. Dawson wrote me again on the 23d, covering a letter of the 22d of February from Mr. Hart. I forward a copy of this correspondence.
On the 7th of February Mr. Consul Barrows wrote to me from Dublin inquiring as to his future action in similar cases, and asking my instructions. I herewith transmit a copy of my reply.
On the 23d of February I received Mr. Davis’s instructions, Nos. 316 and 317, of the 10th of that month, the first directing me to inquire into the circumstances of Mr. McSweeney’s arrest, and the second inclosing a copy of a resolution of the House of Representatives on the general subject.
I have already referred to these instructions, and to my action under the same, in the beginning of the present communication, and in my dispatch No. 322.
On the 3d of the present month I received your telegram, instructing me to report immediately in relation to the cases of Messrs. McSweeney and Hart; and on the 4th instant I cabled my reply, stating the action I had already taken in regard to these gentlemen.
On the 5th instant I received a further telegram from you, directing me to say to Lord Granville that, without discussing whether the provisions of the force act can be applied to American citizens, the President hopes the lord-lieutenant of Ireland will be instructed to exercise the powers intrusted to him by the first section to order early trials in the cases of O’Connor, Hart, McSweeney, Walsh, McEnery, and Dalton, and all other cases in which Americans may be arrested.
I immediately communicated this instruction to Lord Granville, and on the 7th instant I received his reply, dated on the 6th, stating that the subject should receive the immediate attention of Her Majesty’s Government. I herewith inclose a copy of this correspondence. I have up to this date had ho further communication from Lord Granville in relation to this matter.
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In concluding this dispatch I may be permitted to add that I have had repeated assurances from the highest authority that there would be great reluctance in arresting a naturalized citizen of the United States were he known to be such. But it is seldom known, and those already arrested have acted in all respects as if they were Irishmen, sometimes engaged in trade, sometimes in farming, and sometimes filling positions in the local government. This, I think, is illustrated by a phrase in one of Mr. Hart’s letters, to the effect that he never called himself an American. He endeavors, it is true, in a subsequent letter, to explain this away as meaning American born; but it is obviously absurd that a man living in his native village should need to make any such explanation. Naturalized Irishmen seem entirely to misconceive the process through which they have passed in assuming American citizenship, looking upon themselves as Irishmen who have acquired a right to American protection, rather than as Americans who have renounced a claim to Irish nationality.
Their view of the case is indicated in a question I made in a former dispatch, No 132, of the 26th of February, 1881, from a published letter of Mr. C. S. Parnell, in which he speaks of “the American people” and “the Irish nation in America.”
I have, &c.,