No. 245.
Mr. Hoppin to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 625.]

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.,

W. J. HOPPIN.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 625.]

Mr. Mitchell to Mr. Lowell.

Sir: I beg to inclose herewith a letter addressed to this consulate-general by W. H. Russell, deputy governor in charge, Millbank Prison, S. W., on the part of Michael or Patrick O’Donnell, who is charged with the murder of J. Carey.

The case presented by the letter is clearly one that does not fall within the scope of the duties of his office, and is therefore most respectfully submitted to you for consideration.

I am, &c.,

L. H. MITCHELL,
Vice and Deputy Consul-General.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 625.]

W. H. Russell to the American consul.

Sir: Michael or Patrick O’Donnell, the prisoner now in my custody under remand from Bow street police court, charged with the murder of J. Carey, states that he is an American citizen, and has papers in the hands of the metropolitan police to prove his citizenship.

He is most anxious to have a solicitor appointed to undertake his defense, and as he (the prisoner) is unable to write, he has asked me to inform you of the above, and request you to instruct some one to defend him. The prisoner has no friends in England.

I have, &c.,

W. H. RUSSELL,
Deputy Govenor in charge.
[Page 454]
[Inclosure 3 in No. 625.]

Mr. Hoppin to Mr. W. H. Russell.

Sir: The vice-consul-general of the United States has referred to me your letter of the 19th, in which you inform him of the anxiety of the prisoner Michael or Patrick O’Donnell, charged with the murder of J. Carey, and claiming to be an American citizen, to have a solicitor appointed to undertake his defense, and requesting the consul to instruct some one to defend him. You add that the prisoner has no friends in England.

I have examined the papers in the hands of the police and they seem to show that one Patrick O’Donnell became a naturalized citizen of the United States on November 6, 1876.

But the fact that the prisoner in this case appears by your letter to have an uncertain Christian name, either Michael or Patrick, throws some doubt upon his identity with the person named in the certificate of naturalization.

Admitting his citizenship, however, to be established, I do not consider that it is the duty of the Government of the United States, under ordinary circumstances, to provide professional legal assistance for one of its citizens accused of crime in Great Britain, even when such citizen is destitute of means. There seems to be nothing in this case to make it an exception.

I am informed, furthermore, by the public journals, that a considerable amount of money has been subscribed by Mr. O’Donnell’s friends to provide for his defense.

Under these circumstances I must decline to accede to his wishes to instruct some one to defend him, except under directions of the Department of State.

I am, &c.,

W. J. HOPPIN,
Charge’d’Affaires ad interim.