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THE CASE OF PATRICK CONWAY.
STATE OF NEW YORK, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
Albany, April 2, 1839.
Ar the last oyer and terminer held in Rensselaer county, Patrick Conway was convicted, upon his own confession in open court, of the murder of Herman J. Groesbeck, and was sentenced to be executed on the 10th day of May next. At a previous term of the court, an issue upon the prisoner's sanity was tried before a jury empannelled for that purpose. The jury were discharged without rendering a verdict. The evidence obtained by the district attorney since that time, taken in connection with the testimony upon the trial of the issue before mentioned, fully satisfied the court and the counsel for the people that the prisoner is a lunatic, enjoying lucid intervals, and rendered it quite probable that he was insane at the time of committing the crime of which he has been convicted. Under these circumstances, the court and counsel for the people have recommended a commutation of the prisoner's punishment, to that of imprisonment for life in the stateprison. I have arrived at the same conclusion in regard to the prisoner's sanity, after a careful examination of the testimony. I concur also with the court in believing that it would be dangerous to the public peace, to suffer the prisoner to go at large, so long as he remains subject to occasional insanity. The prisoner, who is now enjoying a lucid interval, acquiesces in this opinion, and has therefore pleaded guilty upon the indictment, under expectation of executive clemency. But I can not deem it just or expedient to send the convict to a stateprison. These institutions were designed for another class of persons. Their internal arrangement, their discipline, and all their associations,
are altogether unsuitable for those who labor under the infliction of insanity. Humanity forbids that lunatics should be treated as felons.
I think our laws provide for the confinement of the convict in a lunatic asylum, or in the county poorhouse or county jail, if the proper magistrates of Rensselaer county shall deem his confinement necessary to the public safety.
Referring this matter to them, I have decided to grant to the convict, Patrick Conway, a full pardon.
THE CASE OF CATHARINE WILKINS.
STATE OF NEW YORK, HARCUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
You have been convicted of grand larceny, and have been adjudged to suffer imprisonment at hard labor in the stateprison for three years. You were made known to benevolent individuals of this city by your crime and the trial consequent upon it. These gentlemen have made unsparing exertions to ascertain your real name and history, and to call your distant friends to your aid. Those friends, when informed of your unhappy situation, have only answered that they were too humble to be able to exercise any influence in your behalf, and too poor even to visit you in your distress. Whatever willingness I might have had to interpose for your relief, you must be aware that it has been accidental, if it is not rather to be regarded as providential, that those gentlemen were moved to solicit that interference. But you ought also to understand that executive interposition was by no means to have been expected, even upon such solicitation as has prevailed in your behalf. Very many applications have been made to me for pardon after conviction and before the sentence was carried into execution. I have granted none under such circumstances where I was not satisfied that the conviction was unjust. Yours is a case of manifest and confessed guilt. You are pardoned. It is because you are young; because this is your first exposure to the law; because you are a woman and a stranger, and it may in charity be believed that your virtue would have resisted temptation, had not want and seduction
combined to effect your ruin. If consigned to a stateprison, your good name would be irretrievable, and the associations to which you would be exposed would forbid all hope of reformation. I have thought it my duty to accompany the pardon now freely sent to you, with the advice that you return as speedily as possible to your aged and afflicted mother; that you justify this extraordinary act of mercy by humble and persevering assiduity in domestic duties, which is the only way to regain the respect and confidence of your friends and neighbors. If you will do this, you will carry consolation to the heart of your parent, and I shall have the satisfaction of knowing that I have not done injustice to the public in yielding for once to impulses of sympathy.
To CATHARINE WILKINS, ALIAS
NOTE-A gentleman who had interested himself in this case, a short time since, in passing through New Jersey, found this young woman there in a reputable employment, and enjoying the entire respect of the community. She drew the governor's letter from her bosom and said that its advice had saved her from ruin, and that it had never been for one moment out of her immediate possession.—Ed.
THE CASE OF SAMUEL BURNS.
STATE OF NEW YORK, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
DEAR SIR: The governor has had under consideration the application for the pardon of Samuel Burns, and has directed that a pardon issue in his behalf. The prisoner therefore will be restored immediately to his friends. The governor desires that the grounds of his pardon may be made known to him, in the hope that the communication may tend to recall him from the dangerous course he so early adopted.
The prisoner is pardoned, not because he was innocent; not because the punishment adjudged was too severe; not because he has conducted himself humbly or otherwise during his confinement; but solely because he was of a very tender age when he committed his offence, and it is hoped that his severe experience of the consequences of crime, will operate as a powerful admonition. He possesses some virtuous motives, which