Title: Amos T. Akerman to Hamilton Fish, 19 October 1870
Date: October 19, 1870
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: National Archives and Records Administration
Whitman Archive ID: nar.01436
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Kevin McMullen, and John Schwaninger
October 19, 1870.
Hon. Hamilton Fish,
Secretary of State.
In answer to yours of the 14th inst., enclosing a private communication to you from Mr. Roberts, the Minister from Spain, in the United States, in relation to the steamer "Hornet," I have to say that on the 14th inst., having received from the District Attorney of the Southern District of New York a verbal statement that, in his judgment, the evidence against the "Hornet" was insufficient to condemn that vessel under our neutrality laws, I addressed to him a letter, a copy of which is herein enclosed.
The letter of Mr. Roberts to you furnishes no new facts upon the subject. His reasoning makes out against the "Hornet" a case of suspicion, sufficient, perhaps, to justify the original seizure of the vessel—but not sufficient to authorize me to overrule the judgment of the District Attorney—the officer who, under our Government, is charged with the immediate direction of criminal and other proceedings on the part of the United States in his District. It was his judgment that the evidence against the vessel was altogether insufficient for conviction; and, as it is not the custom of this Government to oppress private parties with unfounded legal proceedings, and as the District Attorney of the Southern District of New York is a very competent officer, I felt bound to authorize the release of the vessel, in case an examination should satisfy him that the detention of her was unauthorized by the evidence.
I return the letter of Mr. Roberts to you, as you requested.
I am, sir, with great respect,
Your obed't serv't.
A. T. Akerman,
Case of the "Hornet"
letter of Mr. Roberts, the Spanish Minister.