DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, October 19, 1861.
GEORGE A. HOFFMAN, Postmaster, Cumberland, Md.
SIR: Will you please inform this Department whether in your judgment there is sufficient reason for detaining John C. Stovin who was recently arrested in your village as a disloyal and dangerous person?*
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
F. W. SEWARD,
WASHINGTON, October 26, 1861.
Honorable WILLIAM H. SEWARD, &c.
SIR: In your confidential note of the 18th instant you do me the honor to inform me that Mr. John C. Stovin on the 16th of July, 1859, renounced in open court his allegiance to any foreign prince, potentate or sovereignty whatever and especially to Queen Victoria.
You will perceive, however, by the inclosed copy of a dispatch from Mr. Bernal, Her Majesty's consul at Baltimore, that Mr. Stovin adheres to his assertion that he has only taken the oath declaring his intention to renounce his allegiance to the Queen and has not taken that by which and alien on becoming an American citizen actually renounces his allegiance to his natural sovereign.
It was on the faith of a solemn assertion to this effect that a British passport was granted to him and submitted to you for counter signature. You will perhaps remember that the passport stated on the face of it that Mr. Stovin was "a British subject who had declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States but had not actually become a citizen thereof. "
I could not feel any hesitation in sanctioning the granting of a British passport to a person to whom that description was applicable. In fact soon after the notice requiring persons in these States to provide themselves with passports was issued I made particular inquiries at the State Department respecting the cases of British subjects who had declared their intention of becoming American citizens. I was informed in reply that the Government of the United States had no right and was under no obligation to grant a pass port to a foreigner wclared his intention to become a citizen of the United States. It was pointed out tome that the law requires a period of several years to elapse before that intention can be carried into effect and that the person who may have declared it may change his mind and has entire liberty to do so.
It was added that until the final act of naturalization such a person is to all intents a subject or citizen of his native country and therefore that foreigners whether they may have declared their intention to become citizens or otherwise must obtain passports from the proper authorities of their own country.
I have the honor to be, with high consideration, sir, your most humble servant,
BRITISH CONSULATE, Baltimore, October 22, 1861.
LORD LYONS, K. C. B., &c.
MY LORD: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt this morning of your dispatch of the 19th instant referring to the case of Mr.
*No answer to this inquiry can be found.