Here was committed the first overt act of the mutiny, on the 25th of February 1857.
Hallam maintains that the only overt act of treason proved against Russell was his concurrence in the project of a rising at Taunton, which he denied, and which, Ramsay being the only witness, was not sufficient to warrant a conviction.
Americans supposed that Great Britain wished to exchange Mexican bonds for California; France also was thought to be watching for an opening for gratifying supposed ambitions; and all parties saw that even without overt act by the United States the progress of American settlement seemed likely to gain them the province, whose connexion with Mexico had long been a notoriously loose one.
The result of these demonstrations was the introduction in the House of Lords, on the 4th of November, of the Treasonable Practices Bill, the main principle of which was that it modified the law of treason by dispensing with the necessity for th~ proof of an overt act in order to secure conviction; and in the House of Commons, on the 10th, of the Seditious Meetings Bill, which seriously limited the right of public meeting, making all meetings of over fifty persons, as well as all political debates and lectures, subject to the previous consent and active supervision of the magistrates.
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