to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
London, September 24, 1883. (Received October 8.)
Sir: I have the honor to acquaint you that I received on the 21st instant from the vice-consul-general a note inclosing a letter from W. H. Russell, the deputy governor in charge of Millbank Prison in this city, addressed to the “American consul,” to the effect that Michael or Patrick O’Donnell, a prisoner in the custody of the deputy governor, under remand from Bow street police court, charged with the murder of J. Carey, had stated that he was an American citizen and had papers in the hands of the metropolitan police to prove his citizenship. Mr. Russell added that O’Donnell was most anxious to have a solicitor appointed to undertake his defense, and as he (the prisoner) was unable to write he had asked Mr. Russell to inform the consul of the above and request him to instruct some one to defend O’Donnell. He further stated that the prisoner had no friends in England.
The vice-consul-general submitted this letter to me, as presenting a case whch did not fall within his official duties. I immediately caused inquiries to be made at Scotland Yard, and the next day, the 22d instant, Inspector Littlechild called at the legation and placed in my hands a mutilated paper which had been found upon the prisoner, and which seemed to be an original certificate from the probate court of Lawrence County, Ohio, at Ironton, dated November 6, 1876, to the effect that Patrick O’Donnell had been duly naturalized as a citizen of [Page 453]the United States, Michael McGinley and Hugh Lugan having appeared as witnesses to his residence and character.
I thereupon addressed a letter to the deputy governor of Millbank Prison, stating that it appeared by papers in the hands of the police that Patrick O’Donnell was a citizen of the United States, but that the fact of the prisoner’s Christian name being uncertain threw some doubt upon his identity with the person to whom the certificate had been granted.
I added that, supposing the prisoner’s citizenship had been established, I did not consider it to be the duty of the United States Government under ordinary circumstances to provide professional legal assistance for one of its citizens accused of crime in Great Britain, even if he were destitute of means, and that there seemed to be nothing in this case to make it an exception. I stated, also, that I was informed by the public journals that a considerable amount of money had been subscribed by O’Donnell’s friends to provide for his defense; and finally, that under these circumstances, I must decline to accede to his wishes to instruct some one to defend him, except under directions from the Department of State.
I inclose a copy of this correspondence.
I have, &c.,