In Whitman's Hand

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About this Item

Title: Amos T. Akerman to Hamilton Fish, 26 January 1871

Date: January 26, 1871

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.01665

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Joshua Ware, Kevin McMullen, and John Schwaninger



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January 26, 1871.

Hon. Hamilton Fish,

Secretary of State.

Sir:

The memorial of Richard B. Caldwell, enclosed in your letter of the 17th instant, has been considered.

Mr. Caldwell complains that he was brought from Canada under the extradition treaty with Great Britain of 1842, charged with one offence—and that he has now been indicted in the courts of The United States for another offence. He does not deny that he has been also indicted for the offence that was described in the extradition proceedings—and it appears from the decision of Judge Benedict upon Mr. Caldwell's plea appended, that such is the fact.

In the extradition proceedings, he was charged with forgery, and he has been indicted for that offence, and also for the offence of bribing revenue officers of the United States. He prays that a trial for the latter offence shall not be permitted. The ground of this prayer must be that the extradition treaty with Great Britain of 1842 will be violated by trying him for a different offence from that on account of which he was brought to this country.

Such a complaint cannot properly come from Mr. Caldwell. He is now before the Courts of the United States, where it must be presumed that full justice will be done him. The place of his arrest has nothing to do with the question between himself and this country, which will be decided in the court according to law.

While I have no doubt that the foreign government might justly complain, if there should be proceedings under an extradition treaty colorably charging a person with one offence, for the real purpose of bringing him to this country for trial for another offence, especially for an offence not embraced in the treaty, I do not think that the accused party should be screened from trial at his own instance, even in such a case. The question between him and the law is one of guilt or innocence. The subject of inquiry is, not how he came to be in the custody of the Court, but whether he is guilty or not guilty of the crime charged.

Moreover, in this case, I see no evidence of any abuse of the extradition treaty. The charge of forgery against Mr. Caldwell was sustained by evidence satisfactory to the Canadian magistrate at Toronto, and to the Grand Jury of the United States in the Circuit Court at New York. These facts show the good faith with which the requisition under the treaty was made.

If it should be your opinion that justice of Great Britain under our stipulations with that power for extradition, forbids the trial of Mr. Caldwell for the offence of bribery under the circumstances of the case, I will direct the District Attorney accordingly. But unless advised of such opinion, I shall not interfere with the prosecution.

Very respectfully, &c,

A. T. Akerman,

Attorney General.


Extradition case of R. B. Caldwell.


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