Mr. Olney to Sir Julian Pauncefote.

No. 286.]

Excellency: On making inquiry since my interview with you of this morning, I find that a letter relating to the case of James Bain, purser [Page 690] of the British steamship Engineer, which had not been called to my attention, was received here on the 13th instant.

I take pleasure in inclosing a copy for your information.

I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, Mr. Ambassador, your most obedient servant,

Richard Olney
[Inclosure in No. 286.]

Attorney-General of Louisiana to Mr. Olney.

Sir: Your letter of November 14 to Governor Foster has been referred to me for reply. I am unable to give you exact information derived from the examination of witnesses; but James Bain, purser of the British steamship Engineer, was shot during a labor riot on the levee, and I remember that the report made at the time satisfied me that no one intended to shoot him, but that he was struck by a shot fired at laborers whom the rioters wished to prevent from working on the levee.

I have sent out to the district attorney, but he does not know anything about the merits of the case. The record shows that on March 26 the grand jury returned into court indictments against six different men for shooting Bain with intent to commit murder; that they have been arraigned and pleaded not guilty, and no further proceedings have been taken in these particular cases. The district attorney sends me word, however, that Bain, the prosecuting witness, is not here, and the case can not be tried in his absence.

There were quite a number of people indicted for offenses growing out of the labor riot, and one case in which three men had been indicted for murder was put on trial as a sort of test, and the jury failed to agree. My information is that no further proceedings have been taken. This does not signify any indisposition on the part of the authorities to try these men, but cases of all grades and kinds remain untried because they are not reached.

As my official duties do not require me to prosecute criminal cases in the criminal court, and as the official adviser of the governor, I was with him during the labor troubles and heard all the reports brought in regarding the various occurrences during the trouble. From my recollection from these reports, and from my knowledge of the situation as well as the troubles which brought about the rioting, I feel satisfied that Bain was not intentionally shot, but was struck by a shot fired at other persons.

Yours, respectfully,

M. J. Cunningham,
P. A. Simmon.