I have great pleasure in stating to you for the information of his lordship that the President frankly and unhesitatingly accepts the explanations given by Earl Russell of what was the meaning of the British Government in the viewswhich at their instance you had heretofore submitted to me concerning the right of the President to suspend the habeas corpus in time of insurrection without waiting for direct authority from Congress.
I have to regret, however, that while the misapprehension which has existed upon this one point is thus generously removed by Earl Russell he deems it necessary to persist in the opinion that the President's William Patrick was wanton and capricious and that it had not been rendered necessary by the exigencies of the civil war.
As Government must proceed always upon information and often with great promptness and energy it could hardly be possible to avoid the commission of occasional errors in the exercise of precautionary power to repress insurrection manifesting itself more or less formidably in every State of the American Union. I cannot but think that a prompt correction of the error in such a case-such a correction as was made in the case of Mr. Patrick-is all that could reasonably be required by persons willing to deliberate carefully and anxious to interpret the action of the Government with candor and impartiality as I am sure Earl Russell is.
I cheerfully consent to leave Early Russell's protest on the record where it will lie side by side with the decisions of this Government which show that during a civil war now of nine months' duration no complaint of any kind has been denied a hearing; not one person has been pressed into the land or naval service; not one disloyal citizen or resident, however guilty of treason or conspiring, has forfeited his life except in battle; not one has been detained a day in confinement who could and would give reliable pledges of his forbearance from evil designs, nor indeed has one person who could or would give no such pledges been detained a day beyond the period when the danger which he was engaged in producing had safely passed away.
Happily it is not the judgments of even great and good men like Earl Russell, pronounced in the excitement of the hour and possibly subject to the influences of disturbing events, which determine the character of States. From such judgments we carefully appeal to that of history, confident that it records no instance in which any Government or people has practiced moderation in civil war equal to that which thus far has distinguished this Government and the American people.
I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to your lordship the assurance of my high consideration.
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
Case of Benjamin F. Grove.
Benjamin F. Grove, a native of Virginia but a resident of Brooklyn, N. Y., was arrested August 31, 1861, by U. S. Marshal Robert Murray and delivered into the custody of Lieutenant Colonel Martin Burke at Fort Lafayette by order of the Secretary of State dated August 31, 1861. He was charged with disloyalty and with holding treasonable correspondence* with active secessionists in Virginia. The charges were
*See reference to Grove in Kennedy to Seward, September 6, 1861, p. 682, case of Algernon S. Sullivan.