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Albany, February 22, 1841.

YOUR letter of the 18th instant, returning me your thanks for a pardon by which you have been released from the stateprison, has been received. This evidence of a grateful heart gives me much pleasure. But I derive much more satisfaction from your assurance that you will endeavor to pursue the path of virtue hereafter. I write you this note in the hope that it may be useful in aiding your resolution. You must bear in mind always that your pardon was granted, not because the offence you had committed was a trivial one, but, because, great as it was, you were very young, and were without parental care and admonition in a land of strangers. Neither these considerations nor any other would be effectual if you should again come under the condemnation of the law. You must remember also that you have brought a stigma upon your name that can be worn away only by many years of virtuous conduct. When you arrive at maturity you will not be permitted to exercise the rights of citizenship. These were forfeited by your crime, and have not been restored by the pardon you have received. They will never be restored unless you shall first retrieve the good character you have lost. Let me hope that your conduct may be such that whoever shall be in my place when you have arrived at full age will not deem it inconsistent with the public welfare to remove your disabilities. You must also bear in mind that the greatest security you can have in pursuing a virtuous course of life, will consist in your assiduous and affectionate discharge of the duties you owe to a mother, whose love exceeds all that you are hereafter to experience from any other human being throughout your whole life. May Heaven sustain and bless you.




Albany, June 25, 1841.

A PETITION of citizens of Suffolk county, praying that the sentence of death pronounced against Samuel Johnson, who was convicted in May last of the murder of his wife, may be commuted to imprisonment for life, has been received and duly considered.

I have carefully examined the testimony, and the other proceedings, on the trial of the prisoner, and I find no reason to question the verdict rendered by the jury. The petitioners recommend him to mercy, upon the ground that he was intoxicated when he committed the crime, and was excited by a threat of the deceased, that she would cause him to be committed to jail for abandoned and disorderly deportment. If an indifferent person, or a stranger, suffers violence at the hands of another, it is contrary to the letter and spirit of our laws, to excuse the offender because he has voluntarily deprived himself of his reason by drunkenness. Much less can a husband be allowed to extenuate in that manner the horrible crime of murdering a weak, defenceless woman, living in constant subjection to his control, and whom he is bound by the most solemn religious and civil obligations to love, honor, and cherish, so long as it shall please God to permit their union.

Of eighteen convictions for murder, which have been reported to this department, since my connection with it, there have been eight cases of the murder of wives by their husbands, and in five of these the excuse of intoxication was presented as a ground for executive interposition. It must be apparent that executive interposition, under such circumstances, could have no other effect than to encourage the commission of the crime, while the frequency of its occurrence is already a subject of deep concern. VOL. II.-41

Every consideration of public policy seems to require that the course of the law, which the prisoner has violated, shall not be interrupted, and the sentence of death must therefore be carried into effect. You will please communicate this decision to the prisoner, without unnecessary delay, so that he may not be diverted by the delusive hope of executive clemency, from the solemn duty of preparing to appear before that tribunal, where Justice acknowledges herself satisfied by the offerings of penitence and faith.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant.



Albany, November 19, 1841.

DEAR SIR: Patrick Russell, an individual whose intemperate habits had brought poverty and wretchedness upon an unoffending family, and them and himself into a condition of dependence upon his brother-in-law, Edward Logue, on the first day of June, 1841, deliberately and wilfully murdered the mother of his children, with no other excuse for that horrible crime than a misapprehension of the benevolent actions of Mr. Logue, and the confidence reposed in him by the deceased. The accused was convicted, and is now lying under a sentence of death. The brother-in-law, in the exercise of feelings which commend him to respect and sympathy, has applied to me to commute the unhappy man's punishment to imprisonment for life, upon the ground that the prisoner might have been laboring under mental derangement when he committed the deed.

I have been furnished with the views of the case entertained by several enlightened and humane citizens of New York, among whom are the circuit-judge, and associate-judges, before whom the prisoner was tried, medical men, yourself, and other spiritual counsellors. The subject has been carefully considered, with the aid of the chancellor, the honorable Mr. Justice Bronson, of the supreme court, and the attorney-general. I find myself obliged

to declare as the result, that there is no evidence showing that the prisoner was in any degree bereft of reason when he committed the crime; and I find no cause to interfere with the course of the law. Will you cause this decision to be made known to the prisoner, in the manner best calculated to direct his thoughts to that tribunal where mercy is never withheld from the penitent - offender?

I am, with high respect, your obedient servant.




Albany, April 26, 1842.

DEAR MADAM: In granting a pardon to your husband, Henry Thomas, I think it very important that he should not be left to misunderstand the grounds of clemency. When he shall return to you, you will impress upon him the consideration, that no person guilty of a similar crime in the city of New York has been pardoned within a year past; that this favor is granted to him, not because his crime is regarded as a trivial one, but because he was very young when he offended-was pressed by neglect and despondency, and committed the crime to save you from want, and immediately afterward manifested penitence and a desire to make atonement; and because I am unwilling to see two youthful persons-so virtuous, as you are represented to be, and he is said to have heretofore been-plunged into deep distress by the rigorous operation of the law, when my interposition may possibly avert such a misfortune.

If he views the matter in this light, he will see that the pardon is chiefly granted for your sake, and in the hope of his permanent reformation, and he will be convinced that, if he shall again relapse into crime, the laws of the country can not again be turned aside upon any consideration of favor or sympathy for him, or even for you.

Fearful of trusting him again to such trials as met him before,

I have directed Judge Lynch to retain the pardon until you shall have made arrangements which will secure your husband some permanent and respectable employment. When that has been done, you will take the pardon and release him from his impris onment; and may God bless you and him.


Albany, July 29, 1842.

GENTLEMEN: Thomas Toppin has been convicted in New York of the crime of murder, committed under circumstances of great atrocity, and was therefore sentenced to suffer death on the 5th day of August next.

Since his conviction representations have been made to me, that, in 1832 or 1833, he was affected by a coup-de-soleil which prostrated his reason, and that he has since that visitation been an insane person, with lucid intervals, and a mind constantly enfeebled; and that the crime was committed in a state of mental derangement.

This defence was offered at the prisoner's trial, and was disallowed by the jury. It has now been presented in a manner which deserves consideration, together with an explanation of the reasons why the evidence now submitted was not produced at the trial. The testimony is not conclusive; yet, when the gravity of the case is considered, the evidence is deemed sufficient to induce an inquiry into the subject. I beg leave to ask you to conduct that inquiry. To enable you to prosecute the same, I send you a copy of the minutes of the trial, together with the affidavits which have been submitted to me. I respectfully request you to examine and converse with the prisoner, and to assign a time and a place for hearing whatever may be offered on the subject, and to procure the attendance of persons who may be able to give any information thereupon; to reduce the result of your inquiries into a report to be submitted to me, with your opinions concerning the moral accountability of the prisoner; accompanying the same with such depositions as you may

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