In Whitman's Hand

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Title: Amos T. Akerman to George S. Boutwell, 22 April 1871

Date: April 22, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: nar.03027

Source: National Archives and Records Administration. 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.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, John Schwaninger, Anthony Dreesen, and Nima Najafi Kianfar

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April 22, 1871.

Hon. Geo. S. Boutwell,

Secretary of the Treasury.


Under date of the 17th instant, you referred to me a letter from Mr. Robert Rae, complaining of certain proceedings of the District Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, taken by that officer under instructions from this office in relation to the case of one David Muir.

The facts are, that upon a trial in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Mr. Muir produced a certificate of naturalization from the Superior Court of the city of Chicago, and claimed under it the privileges of an American citizen. The District Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, having reason to believe that this certificate was obtained by fraud on the part of Mr. Muir, so reported to this office, and the Acting Attorney General, in my absence, directed the District Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois to make the motion in the Superior Court of the city of Chicago to vacate the decree of naturalization which was supposed to have been fraudulently obtained.

Whether such a motion can be entertained and granted by the court, and whether the facts of this case would sustain such a motion, are, as it seems to me, proper questions for the cognizance of the court. If Mr. Muir has had the benefit of American citizenship by virtue of naturalization fraudulently obtained, I think that the courts should set aside the judgment of naturalization. At least it seems to me that the effort to accomplish so desirable an object ought to be made.

I see no object in Mr. Rae's communication, unless it be to prevent an inquiry into the supposed fraud on the part of Mr. Muir. It must be assumed here that the Superior Court of Chicago will do right, and will not vacate its previous judgment unless it was fraudulently obtained. And in case of such fraud the remonstrance of Mr. Muir, or of any person acting for him, will hardly be considered as entitled to respect in any Department of this Government.

I do not, therefore, feel at liberty to recall the direction heretofore given by this Department to the District Attorney of the Northern District of Illinois in this matter.

Very respectfully, &c.

A. T. Akerman,

Attorney General.

case of David Muir, Illinois


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