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issued from your office, perhaps the subject.
I annex, also, a letter from of the orders issued there, in America.
J. Buchanan, Esq.
you will state to tue your -views on
an American citizen on the nature reference to persons coming from
(19.)—Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Bancroft. (Extract.) Washington, October 23, 1848.
I Hate this moment received your despatch, and have only time before the closing of the mail to say a few words in relation to it.
Treason cannot be committed by a citizen of The United States against a foreign Government, and we are bound, by every principle of faith and national honour, to maintain the doctrine, firmly in favour of our naturalized as our native citizens. I should trust that the British Government are not prepared, by the trial of Mr. Richard Ryan for treason, to precipitate a question which must produce such a tremendous excitement throughout our country, especially when this can be so easily avoided. If Ryan has violated the laws of Great Britain within her dominions, he can be tried and punished for an ofl'ence of a different denomination.
O. Bancroft, Esq. JAMES BUCHANAN.
(20.)—Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Bancroft. (Extract.) Washington, October 28, 184S.
Mb. Richaed F. Ryan obtained a passport, in the usual form, from this department, on the 17th May last, upon the production of his certificate of naturalization. He stands, therefore, precisely upon the same footing as though he had been born within The United States. I find, however, that I was too hasty in stating, as I have done in my last despatch, that treason could not be committed by a citizen of The United States against a foreign Government.
Blackstone, in his Commentaries, vol. I, page 369, Bays, that allegiance is distinguished by law "into two sorts or species, the one natural, the other local; the former being also perpetual, the latter temporary." Again, "local allegiance is such as is due from an alien, or stranger born, for so long time as he continues within the king's dominions and protection ; and it ceases the instant such stranger transfers himself from his kingdom to another."
According to British law and practice, therefore, aliens guilty of treasonable acts whilst residing in England, are tried and punished for high treason. Vide I. East's Crown Law, page 52; IV. Blackstone's Commentaries, page 74,. Vide, also, I. East's Crown Law, page 115, in regard to the form of an indictment for high treason. I take it, also, that even in this country, a foreigner, whilst enjoying the protection of our laws, and consequently owing temporary allegiance to our Government, might, during this period, commit treason against The United States "in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort." Indeed, this seems to be taken for granted by Chief Justice Marshall in delivering the opinion of the court in the case of The United States v. Wiltberger, V. "Wheaton, 97, when he says that "treason is a breach of allegiance, and can be committed by him only who owes allegiance, either perpetual or temporary. The words, therefore, owing allegiance to The United States, in the first section [of the Act (or the punishment of certain crimes against The United States, approved April 30, 1790,] are entirely surplus words, which do not, in the slightest degree, affect its sense. The construction would be precisely the same were they omitted."
Sad, indeed, might.be our condition should numerous emigrants hereafter arrive in our country in times of difficulty and danger, possessing a different spirit towards our institutions from that with which they have been heretofore animated, if none but citizens of The United States could commit the crime of treason.
It may also be observed, that the words employed in the first section of the Act to which I have referred, are "any person or persons," not "any citizen or citizens of The United States," &c.
I have deemed it proper to make these suggestions, in order to correct a mistake into which we both have fallen.
The President has been highly gratified with your efforts in favour of our unfortunate citizens who have been arrested in Ireland, charged with sedition and treason against the British Government, and feels confident that you will continue to aid them by every means proper to be employed by an American Minister under such circumstances. I need scarcely add that, whenever the occasion may require it, you will resist the British doctrine of perpetual allegiance, and maintain the American principle, that British native born subjects, after they have been naturalized under our laws, are, to all intents and purposes, as much American citizens, and entitled to the same degree of protection, as tliough they had been born in The United States. Q. Bancroft, Esq. JAMES BUCHANAN.
(21.)—Mr. Bancroft to Viscount Palmerston. My Lobd, London, November 10, 1848.
Youb note of the 30th of September was received by me on my recent return from the country; and having made the inquiries which it suggested, I now reply to it.
The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, it appears by your Lordship's note, holds in Newgate prison, Dublin, Mr. James Bergen, an American citizen, on suspicion of being the agent of associations in New York, formed for the purpose of supporting an attempted outbreak in Ireland. An American citizen coming into the British dominions certainly owes respect to British laws, and is amenable for the breach of them to British tribunals.
But Mr. Bergen has, through the Lord Lieutenant, written to me, protesting his innocence of the suspicions agaiust him. The utterance of his opinions in America on Irish affairs is no crime; if I understand your Lordship, it is not imputed to him as a crime. I have had some opportunity of tracing his general conduct from the moment of his leaving America to the evening of his arrest, when he was just preparing to return home. He came to Europe in the most frugal manner, like the father of a family of small means which he desired to improve, and not as one provided with the resources of an association. On board ship he was discreet in bis language and conduct. One whom I know well, and whose integrity and character I can vouch for, with good opportunity of observation, saw no reason to deem him an agent. He seems, during the few days of his being in Ireland, to have not even attended a political meeting. This, in substance, I brought to the knowledge of the Government; and I had hoped that my representation might countervail the suspicion in the breast of the Lord Lieutenant, and would have gained Mr. Bergen leave to return to his own country.* I had hoped this the more, as the statute 11 Victoria, cap. 20, which alone of the two exceptional Acts of the last session of Parliament specifies "aliens" as well as " Ireland," does but give authority to remove aliens from the realm. Her Majesty's Government have judged otherwise. I have, therefore, on the part of my Government, to request that Mr. Bergen, who has already languished in prison for more than 3 mouths, may have a fair trial without further delay.
In regard to Mr. Richard Franks Ryan, your Lordship informs me that this citizen of The United States is, in the judgment of the Lord Lieutenant, a subject of Her Majesty. I shall take an occasion to give to your Lordship some of the reasoDS which lead nie to hold that, by the accepted law of nations, Mr. Ryan owes allegiance to the United States of America alone.
Here I could wish to stop, reposing confidently on the justice of your tribunals and the clemency of your sovereign. But there are observations in your Lordship's note which might lead to wroa? inferences, were I not to place by their side a simple (statement of
* 9th Jane, 1848. Vol. XXXVIII. Page 916.
facts, derived from the best sources at band, in the absence of that official information which the British Government withholds.
Early in August last, an order was secretly issued and circulated in Ireland, directing the arrest of all persons coming from America, the examination of their baggage, papers, and persons, and their detention in imprisonment. .No authority was given to set free Americans thus arrested, even where it was admitted by the officer making the arrest that no ground whatever even of suspicion existed. Mr. Redington, the Under Secretary for Ireland, frankly avowed to two of my countrymen that the order contemplated the arrest and detention of every American citizen. And this general warrant of arrest, issued against all persons of or from the nation of America, was acted upon.
On this subject I must remark that I am ignorant of any British statute, or principle of the English Constitution or common law, authorizing the arbitrary arrest of all American citizens in Ireland, or elsewhere in Her Majesty's dominions. The Act 11 Vict., cap. 20, does but authorize the arbitrary removal of aliens from the realm, and the imprisonment of those only who refuse to depart. The Act 11 and 12 Vict., cap. 35, gives broad powers of arbitrary arrest, but only in case of suspicion of high treason or treasonable practices.
Nor is the order in question consistent with the usage of nations. I know of not one precedent for it. Tour Lordship gives the best excuse for it, by comparing all Ireland to a battle field. But international usage requires the proclamation of martial law before the application of its rules. The good sense of the American travellers whose conversation Mr. Redington reported, suggested rightly that notice should have been given of the measure.
And what motive is there for assuming, before Ireland and the world, that every American citizen, and every person coming from America, would be likely to abet the outbreak in Ireland?
I cannot for a moment admit that anything which has happened in America justifies such measures. In the progress of the human race, nations profit by the experience of one another. Events in the history of America have perhaps contributed to beneficial changes in the condition of Ireland and they may do so hereafter; but it will never be by rebellions organized at public meetings at three thousand miles distance from the scene of action.
The United States protect freedom of speech, in private and in public; and sympathy with any political movement in any foreign land is, in America, no offence. All human affairs come before the tribunal of public opinion; and the formation or expression of a judgment by the public opinion of a people is not an act of hostility. Poland has always, since the first partition of it, had English sympathies; yet without interrupting on that account the friendly relations of this Kingdom with Prussia, Austria and Russia.
But, of all nations of the world, The United States have least interfered with the internal policy of others, and have least been propagandists, except indeed by the silent influence of their prosperity and contentment. Our federal system, which we cherish as the necessary condition of internal freedom in a great empire, does not, as your Lordship intimates, surround the American Government with Constitutional difficulties in regard to its relations with foreign powers. On the contrary, our Government has powers, as ample as ought to be conferred in a free State, on all questions relating to peace and commerce. The simple, silent, and effective action of the revenue laws of The United States, is in itself a protection to all countries against the unlawful importation into them of arms and ammunition from America. Tour Lordship declares that arms and ammunition have been sent by conspirators in The United States to Ireland, and have been seized and will be confiscated. I have held it a part of my duty to make inquiries as to these seizures. If your Lordship were to see an inventory of them, I am sure they would scarcely be thought worth mentioning in an official note. I have heard of the seizure of but one gun and one sword cane; and the owners of them were not suspected of ill intentions.
And as to persons coming from America as volunteer enemies to the British Government, I know of none. If there are any such, how many more have gone to Ireland from England; and how would every nation be always in strife with every nation, if the acts of individuals were to be taken respectively as acta of the Government, or of the collective people?
Besides, when it is considered that the current of generous affection in America was turned towards Ireland in the time of her distress by famine; when it is considered that we have greatly relieved this Kingdom by receiving into our country vast numbers of a laborious and frugal population, here esteemed a burden; when it is considered that all Europe has been convulsed, and the public sentiment agitated by a continuing series of extraordinary revolutions; when it is borne in mind that these revolutions have awakened active sympathies among the nations and Governments of Europe, it must be admitted that the people of The United States have, amidst all these perturbations, best preserved tranquillity; and that their Government has, beyond all others, maintained the position of non-intervention.