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James Speed to Edward Dodd, 3 April 1866

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Attorney General's office, April 3, 1866. Edward Dodd, Esq. Nor. Dist. N. York U. S. Marshal. Sir: Information has come to this Department, deemed reliable, to the effect that operations are being carried on in the city of Buffalo, with the view of infringing the neutrality laws of this country. It is said that sundry boxes filled with arms, cartridge boxes, & other munitions of war, consigned from New York to one Pat O'Day an Irish resident of Buffalo, who was engaged during the past year or two in recruiting for the Navy. O'Day is said to have received these articles on the 19th of March. On the same day there appeared in one of the public papers of the city of Buffalo, an advertisement to the following effect: "We ask of our fellow citizens material to aid us in establishing a Republican form of government in Ireland, which its people as much desire, & for which they are determined to make any sacrifice. Our field of operations is guessed at by the public, & subscribers can rest assured that work of the most active character is meant. The following gentlemen have been appointed a committee to solicit contributions of arms & money: Col. John Hoy, Lt. Col. M Bailey, Col. A. J.B. Hickey, Mr. John Melone, Robert Kelly, John Walpole, Thomas Murray, Edward. K. Lonegan, & John M. Lornly." It is also understood here that there are numerous & strong associations in the city of Buffalo, having their common lead in one of the police of the city who is in full sympathy with them, their object being to interfere in foreign matters, contrary to our obligations as a nation. An auctioneer in the city of Buffalo, it is said, received, between the 16th and 20th ult. twenty seven boxes, some of which contained musket and equipment, & other blankets, & probably shelter tents. It is also said that there are drills nearly every night, under the guise of target companies. Some respectable & judicious people about Buffalo believe that they are upon the eve of a movement, & even the capture of the Suspension Bridge is hinted at. As these incidents are occurring simultaneously with the proceeding of the public meetings throughout the country at which there are contributions of money, & men & arms are solicited for the avowed purpose, in some instances of levying war against Great Britain in Ireland, & in other cases of levying war against the same power in its North American provinces, the attention of the President has been arrested thereby, & he has instructed me to say to you that you must be on the alert, & inquire into the matter herein suggested. If upon investigation, you should be satisfied that there is a probability of an infraction of our neutrality laws, you are hereby instructed to take the necessary steps against the party or parties contemplating such infraction. It is greatly to be desired that you should be active & prompt, & at the same time as quiet as possible. As notoriety seems to be of the great things desired by the Fenians, the government is particularly anxious not to make them notorious unless they or some of them can be convicted. I have written a similar letter to the District Attorney of your District. You will confer with him, & take such steps under the neutrality laws, as may seem necessary to preserve the honor of the country, & maintain the supremacy of the law. Very respectfully, your obedient serv't. James Speed Attorney General.
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