Page images

and only by the act of Parliament of May 12, 1870, did it become British law that an English woman lost her quality of a British subject by marrying an alien. The Continental codes, on the other hand, enable a woman whose nationality of origin has been changed by marriage to resume it when she becomes a widow, on the condition, however, of her returning to the country of her origin. The widow to whom you refer may, as a matter of strict law, remain a citizen, but as a citizen has no absolute right to a passport, and as the law of the United States has outside of their jurisdiction only such force as foreign nations may choose to accord it in their own territory, I think it judicious to withhold passports in such cases unless the widow gives evidence of her intention to resume her residence in the United States."

Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Mr. Washburne, min. to France, No. 238, Feb.

24, 1871. Cited with approval in Mr. Bayard, Sec. of State, to Mr. Hall, min. to

Central America, Jan. 6, 1887, For. Rel. 1887, 92. Mr. Bayard said: “I am not disposed to depart from this precedent which may be readily reconciled with the opinion of Attorneys-General Bates (10

Op. 321), Stanbery (12 Op. 7), and Hoar (13 Op. 128).” The case before Mr. Bayard was as follows: A native American woman

was married in Jamaica in 1869 to a Spanish subject. They subsequently removed to Chile, where her two children, who were still minors, were born. In 1879 the family went to Salvador, where the husband died in 1883. At the time of his death he had a claim against the Government of Salvador, which his widow afterwards endeavored to prosecute through the Spanish legation, but without success. She then invoked the aid of the legation of the United States, on the ground that, when her husband died, her original citizenship reverted. Mr. Hall, the American minister in Central America, in reporting the case, observed that it differed from that decided by Attorney-General Bates, supra, in that the marriage was not performed in the United States; and he had therefore informed the lady that she and her children followed the nationality of her husband. Mr. Bayard said: “ Under these circumstances I must hold that Mrs. Arana as long as she remains without the jurisdiction of this Government is not entitled to the privileges of a citizen of the United States, so far at least as would entitle her to diplomatic interposition on her behalf against the Government of Salvador on a claim accruing since her marriage and

departure from the United States." (For. Rel. 1887, 92.) “ Although the marriage of a female citizen of the United States with a

foreigner should make her a citizen of the country to which her husband belongs, it does not necessarily follow (as was said in my instruction No. 238 to Mr. Washburne, referred to in your dispatch) that she becomes subject to all the disabilities of alienage, such for instance, as inability to inherit or to transfer real property. In approving of Mr. Washburne's refusal to grant a passport in the case then under consideration, I intended not to be held, by inference, to an opinion beyond what I expressed, or upon questions not necessary

to a decision of the case presented." (Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Mr. Williamson, Sept. 22, 1875, MS. Inst. ('osta Rica, XVII. 266.)

“I have to inform you of the receipt of your despatch of the 11th instant, No. 25, submitting for instructions the question whether the widows of Spanish subjects, who, previous to their marriage, were citizens of the United States, are entitled to be registered as such in the consulate-general and to receive the protection accorded to such citizens.

“ In reply I have to say that the law touching the status of a female citizen of the United States who marries a Spanish subject was examined at length in dispatch No. 70, of November 24, 1869, addressed to Mr. Plumb, then consul-general, and to which you are referred as representing the views now held by this Government. In the closing paragraph of that dispatch, and in review of its previous statements, the Assistant Secretary says: “The American female citizen, when within the United States, must, in virtue of statutes operative within that jurisdiction and not elsewhere, be deemed a citizen although, by marrying a foreign subject, she had, while under the dominion of the foreign law, made herself for all purposes a subject of the country to which her husband owed allegiance. But, while remaining in the foreign country, we can only regard her as having voluntarily exercised the right of expatriation for which the executive and legislative departments of our Government have strenuously contended, and which was sanctioned by the law of her actual domicil.'

“In the light of the decision above given, and as affording a reply to your inquiry, it is apprehended that, so long as the widow of a Spanish subject shall remain in the Spanish territory after the death of her husband, she continues in the relation to its Government that was contracted by her marriage; and if she shall return to such territory, after an absence in the United States, with the intention of still maintaining her domicil there, that relation is conceived still to remain, even though she may have provided herself with a passport by virtue of her birth in the United States.

" In case, however, she shall have fixed her residence in the United States since the death of her husband and shall return within Spanish jurisdiction, without the intention to abandon that residence or to remain longer than the objects of a temporary sojourn may require, she is not deemed to lose thereby the right to the protection which she has acquired by resuming her previous relations to the Government of the United States. In such case no sufficient objection appears to her being registered as a citizen in the consulategeneral."

Mr. Hunter, Second Assist. Sec. of State, to Gen. Torbert, consul-general

at Ilavana, No. 25, Jan. 31, 1872, 64 MS. Desp. to Consuls, 20.

A woman, originally a citizen of the United States, who stated that she was married to a Mexican citizen, domiciled in Mexico, complained to the Government of the United States of wrongs resulting from her husband's desertion and neglect. The Department of State replied that, under the circumstances, and so far as regarded the rights which she had acquired under her marriage contract, she had by her marriage become, in contemplation of Mexican law, a citizen of that Republic; and that all questions concerning the assertion of such rights were therefore governed by the laws of that country, with the administration of which laws it was not the province of the United States to interfere.

Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Mrs. Negrete, Oct. 28, 1874, 105 MS. Dom. Let.

17; Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Mrs. Wallace, Oct. 28, 1874, id. 25.
That a woman partakes of her husband's nationality, see, also, Mr. Fish,

Sec. of State, to Mr. Perez, March 18, 1870, MS. Notes to Nicaragua,
II. 13.

While, by the law of the United States, an alien woman on her marriage with a citizen merges her nationality in that of her husband, it never has been “ incontrovertibly established " as the law of the United States that an American woman by marriage with an alien loses the quality of an American citizen.

Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Mr. Rublee, No. 210, April 11, 1876, MS. Inst.

Switzerland, I. 382.

“As the statutes of the United States make no provision for the expatriation of a female citizen ” by her “ marriage with an alien, it is possible that it may be held that a woman in such a position“ has a double nationality, so far at least as rights of property may be affected. On this point I can express no opinion.”

Mr. Frelinghuysen, Sec. of State, to Count Lewenhaupt, Swedish min.

April 10, 1882, MS. Notes to Sw. & Nor. VII. 236. See infra, p. 455.


An American woman, married to a British subject, who had a commercial domicil” in Mexico, complained of injuries to his property, in which she claimed an interest. It was held that, as“ woman who marries a foreigner takes by that act the nationality of her husband," and as the property was in Mexico, under the control of the husband, who, although he afterwards became a citizen of the United States, was, at the time when the injuries were inflicted, "an alien and not entitled to the protection of the United States," there was no ground for intervention.

Mr. Frelinghuysen, Sec. of State, to Mrs. Walsh, Jan. 31, 1881, 149 MS.

Dom. Let. 541.

That a wife's political status follows that of her husband, see Mr. Fre

linghuysen, Sec. of State, to Mr. Lawrence, March 31, 1883, 146 NS. Dom. Let. 287; to Mr. Foster, April 2, 1883, 146 MS. Dom. Let. 311.

“ The view has been taken by this Department in several cases that the marriage of an American woman to a foreigner does not completely divest her of her original nationality. Her citizenship is held for most purposes to be in abeyance during coverture, but to be susceptible of revival by her return to the jurisdiction and allegiance of the United States."

Mr. Blaine, Sec. of State, to Mr. Phelps, min. to Germany, Feb. 1, 1890,

For. Rel. 1890, 301.
See, to the same effect, Mr. Evarts, Sec. of State, to Mrs. Wood, Sept. 24,

1880, 134 MS. Dom. Let. 455.

An application was made to the Department of State for a passport for an American woman, who, though married to a British subject, desired, it was said, to retain her American citizenship and to reside in New York. The Department declined to grant the application, on the ground that, under British law and the naturalization treaty between the United States and Great Britain of May 13, 1870, the woman in question was a British subject. It was added, however, that this decision did not imply any opinion as to her status, as her property and local rights may be concerned, under the law of the State of her residence. That is a question determinable by a court having appropriate jurisdiction.”

so far

Mr. Day, Assist. Sec. of State, to Mr. Robertson, Oct. 21, 1897, 221 MS.

Dom. Let. 584.
It is the practice of the Department of State to decline to issue passports

to the American-born wives of foreigners who continue to reside in
the United States after marriage. (Mr. Adee, Second Assist. Sec.
of State, to Mr. Wildman, consul at Hongkong, No. 30, March 24, 1898,

161 MS. Inst. Consuls, 7.) A person who inquired “whether the British Government would recog

nize the naturalization papers of a former British subject, an English woman, who was naturalized in the United States without the consent of her husband," was advised to consult private counsel learned in the law of Great Britain. (Mr. Adee, Acting Sec. of State, to Mrs. Clark, Oct. 3, 1896, 213 MS. Dom. Let. 77.)


$ 409.

An application for the interposition of the United States was made by a woman who represented that she was an American citizen by birth and the widow of a Turkish subject. The application was dated at Constantinople, and its tenor indicated that the applicant's

“marital domicil was in Turkey." Supposing this to be the case, the Department of State had “no hesitation in saying " that, so long as she remained in Turkey, she could not, unless for the purpose of enabling her to return to the United States, obtain the Department's interposition. By marrying a Turkish subject and taking up her residence in Turkey, she became, said the Department, a Turkish subject, and to recover her American nationality "must leave Turkey and take up an American residence."

Mr. Bayard, Sec. of State, to Mrs. Lografo, Feb. 6, 1886, 158 MS. Dom.

Let. 694.
The fact that an American-born woman married to a Chinese subject

is residing in a country in which the United States has extraterri-
toriality does not afford her any basis for asserting her American
citizenship. (Mr. Adee, Second Assist. Sec. of State, to Mr. Wildman,
No. 30, March 24, 1898, 161 MS. Inst. to Consuls, 7.)

A quotation has been made from a note of Mr. Frelinghuysen to the minister of Sweden and Norway (supra, p. 453). The woman therein referred to was afterwards divorced from her husband, a Swede, by the Swedish courts, on account of her insanity, and was placed by her mother, an American citizen, by whom she was supported, in an asylum in Austria. From this asylum she was in 1888, against the protest of her mother, removed by a person acting as her guardian under Swedish law to an asylum in Sweden. Her mother sought to regain her custody, as her“ only rightful and natural guardian;" and to this end resorted to the Swedish courts, and also invoked the good offices of the United States. The Department of State gave the following instructions: “As Madam de B. divorced from her husband upon his application it is thought that such good offices can properly be employed in her behalf as a person whose original American nationality has reverted to her."


Mr. Bayard, Sec. of State, to Mr. Magee, min. to Sw. & Norway, No. 127,

Feb. 15, 1889, MS. Inst. Sw. & Nor. XV. 196. See, also, Mr. Bayard,

Sec. of State, to Mr. Magee, tel., Feb. 23, 1889, id. 199.
See, however, Pequignot 1. Detroit, 16 Fed. Rep. 211.

An American woman was married to a Russian subject. Four years after his death, while she was residing in France, the intervention of the United States in her behalf was invoked in respect of proceedings which, it was alleged, were about to be instituted to commit her to an insane asylum. As it did not appear that she had exercised her“ possible right” of reversion to her original citizenship, which, if it existed, could be effectively asserted “by returning to and dwelling in the country of her maiden allegiance,” it was held that the United States could not officially intervene in her behalf.

Mr. Day, Assist. Sec. of State, to Mr. Updegraff, Jan. 27, 1898, 225 MS.

Dom. Let. 24.

« PreviousContinue »