Mr. Uhl to Mr. Bayard.

No. 693.]

Sir: I inclose for your information copies of two letters, one addressed to the President on February 15, 1895, the other to the Department on the 25th ultimo, by Mr. Hugh J. Carroll, of Pawtucket, R. I. They both refer to the case of John Curtin Kent, an American citizen, who is undergoing life sentence at Chatham, England, upon conviction under the treason-felony act in June, 1883.

I add also a copy of Department’s reply to Mr. Carroll, of the 8th instant.

You are no doubt familiar with the Department’s previous instructions upon this general subject, and the case of Mr. Kent is committed to you for such action in his behalf as you may find it possible to take through such discreet and proper inquiries as may suggest themselves to your mind.

* * * * * * *

I am, etc.,

Edwin F. Uhl, Acting Secretary.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 693.]

Mr. Carroll to the President.

Dear Sir: The British Government having the other day refused the request of the Irish members to reopen the cases of political prisoners, I must again appeal to you and the State Department in behalf [Page 727]of John Curtin Kent, an American citizen imprisoned in Chatham Prison, England.

During your last Administration the State Department, through Consul-General Waller, investigated and Governor Waller reported that he found that prisoner was convicted on very slight and faulty evidence and owing evidently to popular clamor.

I would respectfully ask now that more forcible representations be made by our Government. I speak for a large number of friends of the prisoner who acted under me while I was president of the Irish-American Democratic Union during the last Presidential campaign. But I do not ask it as any favor to them, as they did their work without any idea of favors to be received. I simply ask as a citizen representing interested friends.


Hugh J. Carroll.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 693.]

Mr. Carroll to Mr. Gresham.

Dear Sir: I wrote to the President recently to inquire if anything further could be done for John Curtin Kent, American citizen in jail at Chatham, England. I am informed that my letter was referred to the State Department, but have received no further intimation in the premises from Washington. During Governor Waller’s term of office at London I began to have the matter looked into, and represent the friends of the prisoner in New York.

Can you inform me if anything further has been done or is proposed?

I would be pleased to furnish anything possible.

* * * * * * *


Hugh J. Carroll.
[Inclosure 3 in No. 693.]

Mr. Uhl to Mr. Carroll.

Sir: The President has caused to be referred to this Department your letter to him of February 15 last, relative to the case of John Curtin Kent, an American citizen, who is undergoing life sentence at Chatham, England, upon conviction under the treason-felony act, in June, 1883. In this connection I also acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 25th ultimo upon that subject.

You are no doubt familiar with the strenuous but ineffectual efforts put forth during the former Administration of President Cleveland to obtain executive clemency for Mr. Kent and his fellow prisoners in the Queen’s jubilee year, 1887. These were renewed under President Harrison’s Administration with a like result, and again in 1893, when the question of commuting the sentences of the chief conspirators was under consideration in the House of Commons.

At that time the present honorable secretary, Mr. Asquith, was unalterably opposed to any act looking to executive clemency, as a perusal [Page 728]of the debates conclusively show, and the measure was defeated by the decisive vote of 399 to 83.

Under these circumstances, although I can assure you that the President is animated by the same kindly feeling that actuated his previous action in behalf of Mr. Kent, and the other unfortunate men, the Department’s judgment is that until a more conciliatory feeling prevails in England, no different result seems possible through diplomatic intervention in the premises.

Still, in order that all doubt may be resolved, and that Mr. Bayard, the United States ambassador, may be able to take advantage of any favorable change in the situation, I shall send him copies of your two letters, with an appropriate instruction. Mr. Bayard being upon the spot and fully aware of the nature of the Department’s previous instructions will not hesitate to actively intervene in Mr. Kent’s behalf, should that course be found prudent. In this Mr. Bayard will have the cordial approval and sympathy of the Department.

I am, etc.,

Edwin F. Uhl,
Acting Secretary.