Page images
PDF
EPUB

“Although we have no naturalization treaty with France, that Government has manifested a disposition to deal liberally with those who, like yourself, have incurred the penalties of her military laws and have since become bona fide citizens of the United States.

“ Should you visit France, provided with proper proof of your American citizenship, it is believed that the only trouble, if any, to which you might possibly be subjected, would be detention awaiting a judicial investigation of your case, with perhaps the imposition of a small fine. It is proper to add, however, that, in the event of your arrest and detention under the circumstances referred to, this Government would not feel itself under an obligation to do more than interpose its good offices in your behalf."

Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Mr. Lafevbrė, April 3, 1869, 80 MS. Dom.

Let. 531.

“ It is understood to be a provision of the law of France that when a Frenchman has lost his quality of French citizen he cannot serve in the armies of that country, and that when that quality has been lost for over three years he will not be punished for “insoumission.' These questions, however, have to be determined in a civil court in France, and it should be remembered that during their pendency the party is liable to arrest, detention, and, it may be, imprisonment, besides the expense of employing counsel.

“In a recent dispatch from Mr. Washburne, our minister at Paris, it is stated that naturalized citizens of the United States born in France, upon returning to the place of their birth have been of late sometimes subjected to great inconvenience and expense on account of claims of the nature alluded to for their military service.

“ The Department cannot, in view of these facts, give any advice to persons situated as your sons are, upon the propriety or otherwise of their subjecting themselves to such possible annoyances and inconveniences by visiting France. On these questions the party must judge for himself, with the knowledge that he personally assumes the risk and responsibility of such expenses and inconveniences as he may thereby be subjected to."

Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Mr. Jouffret, Feb. 11, 1874, 101 MS. Dom.

Let. 291.
To the same effect is Mr. Fish. Sec. of State, to Mr. Pintard, Feb. 12,

1874, 101 MS. Dom. Let. 303.
See Mr. Hunter, Act. Sec. of State, to Mr. May, Dec. 27, 1875, 111

MS. Dom. Let. 235.

Alfred P. Jacob was born in the United States, July 10, 1858, of French parents. His father registered him in a French consulate as a Frenchman, but afterwards, when Alfred was seventeen years of age, became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1879, Alfred, who was then nineteen years of age, and had not before been in French jurisdiction, went to France, intending to remain abroad a few years. In France he was drafted into the army. He applied to the American legation, but its interposition was in vain, and he served four years in the French army, after which he returned to the United States. After his return he invoked the interposition of the Department of State to have his name stricken from the French military rolls, as he desired to avoid further trouble in France in the event of his return to that country. The French Government, when the case was submitted to it in 1879, had replied that the personal status of the young man, who was born in the United States before his father had obtained American naturalization, was not, according to French jurisprudence, modified by the change of his father's nationality, and that the minister of war, therefore, found it impossible to relieve him from the military obligations incumbent on all individuals who had not lost their French quality by one of the modes prescribed by the civil code. It was added that questions of nationality belonged, besides, exclusively to the courts, and that Mr. Jacob should lay before the competent jurisdiction such reasons as he might have for no longer considering himself a Frenchman.

This reply was reaffirmed by the French Government in 1884, with the qualification that, as Mr. Jacob had performed his active military service, the minister of war would give his support by a favorable note to any application which he might address to the minister of justice, should he apply for permission to change his allegiance. In this relation, the French foreign office said: “According to the terms of article 10 of our civil code, Alfred Jacob is French, as having been born of a Frenchman in a foreign country... .

Our legislation does not admit in fact, like that of the United States, that the naturalization of the father applies to his children born before the naturalization, no one in France having the right, by his act alone, to modify the status and qualifications of others. Mr. Alfred Jacob is, then, French in our view, and he remains, in France, submitted to the obligations of the reserve and territorial army set forth by article 37 of the law of the 27th July, 1872."

Mr. Frelinghuysen, Sec. of State, to Mr. Morton, min. to France, No. 136,

Jan. 21, 1884; Mr. Morton to Mr. Frelinghuysen, No. 491, Feb. 5, 1881; Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Morton, March 18, 1884; Mr. Morton to Mr. Frelinghuysen, May 6, 1884: For. Rel. 1884, 135, 139, 145, 148,

150. See, also, For. Rel. 1888, I. 513, 556, reaffirming the previous French

position in this case. “By the French code all Frenchmen who become citizens of another

country by the laws thereof thereby lose their French citizenship. This Department, however, cannot give Mr. Vandoit any assurance

in advance against arrests or other annoyances to which he might possibly be subjected in France in case of his return to that country, nor can it advise him as to the expediency or propriety of such return. This must be left to his own judgment. Should he, however, conclude to return to France, and while there be arrested or held on account of previous military occupations, this Government would extend to him all the protection which as an American citizen he may be found, under the circumstances, entitled to.” (Mr. Frelinghuysen, Sec. of State, to Mr. Brents, Jan. 24, 1884, 149 MS. Dom. Let. 181.)

John B. Foichat was born in France, January 4, 1853. In 1870, at the age of seventeen, he came to the United States, where, in 1883, he was admitted to citizenship. In August, 1883, he obtained a passport and went to France, arriving there in the following month. In November, 1884, he was arrested on the charge of having failed to report for military service. He protested and, exhibiting his naturalization papers and passport, demanded that he be released. He was kept, however, two days and three nights in the military prison at Chamberry, and was then handcuffed and taken to the military prison at Grenoble to be tried by court-martial. He was detained at Grenoble four days, when he was released through the efforts of the United States consul at Lyons. March 25, 1884, the American minister at Paris was instructed to look into the case and, if the facts were found to be as stated, to present it to the minister of foreign affiirs, with an earnest request that it might receive early and just consideration and that a reasonable pecuniary indemnity might be paid. The French Government admitted that the facts were substantially as stated, but denied that they entitled the claimant to any compensation. In a note to the American legation, October 22, 1884, M. Ferry, minister of foreign affairs, said that Foichat was arrested on the charge of insoumission, and added: “Upon principle we have constantly refused to admit that a Frenchman, naturalized in a foreign country, can be exempted if he returns to France from being answerable for the offense of insubmission, when the naturalization has taken place subsequently to the existence of the offence. You will understand that we cannot abandon this jurisprudence, which is dictated by a question of public order of a most important character, and against which the Government of the United States would be all the less founded in protesting, as it is in conformity with one of the principal provisions which appear in the treaties of naturalization concluded by it with certain powers.” M. Ferry then cited Article II. of the treaty between the United States and the North German Union of February 22, 1868, to the effect that a naturalized citizen remains punishable for offences committed prior to his emigration, subject to the statutes of limitation.

H. Doc. 551-vol 338

Mr. Frelinghuysen, Sec. of State, to Mr. Morton, min. to France, No. 477,

March 25, 1884; Mr. l'ignaud, chargé, to Mr. Frelinghuysen, No. 651,

Oct. 27, 1884: For. Rel. 1884, 145, 174. In a dispatch to Mr. Frelinghuysen, No. 665, Nov. 13, 1884, Mr. Vignaud

makes an extended and interesting report on the French law of citizenship, especially with regard to military service. The son of every Frenchman, says Mr. Vignaud, is registered at the place of his birth if born in France, or, at the place of his family's residence is born abroad, as liable to military service. This registration forms in each commune a recruiting list, which is drawn up every year by the mayor, who afterwards sends it to the prefecture of the department, where it is combined with all the other lists in a general one, comprising all men belonging to the department born twenty years before. When the time comes each person on the list is notified to present himself at a designated place. If he resides abroad the notice is served on him through his consul or through members of his family residing in France. If he fails to report, he is charged with the offence known to French law as “insubmission " (insoumission), and the police are ordered to arrest him when found. If, when arrested, he does not resist, he is generally dealt with gently; if he resists, he is handcuffed and treated roughly. The police deliver him to the military authorities as an insoumis, and a court martial proceeds to try him as such. If he pleads that he has renounced his original nationality, the court martial suspends action while the defendant appeals to the civil courts. While this appeal is pending he is usually left at liberty. In the civil court the course of procedure is by summons to the prefect of the department to erase the individual named from the recruiting list. On production of duly authenticated proofs of foreign nationality, by birth or by naturalization, the civil court renders a judgment to the effect that the defendant, having ceased to be a French citizen, cannot serve in the French army. The defendant is then sent back to the military court. His name is erased from the military rolls; but he is then tried for the offence of “ insubmission ” committed before the rendering of the judgment that he had lost French nationality. If three years have elapsed since he was naturalized, he is discharged by limitation. If such a period has not elapsed, he is sentenced to a fine or to a few weeks' or months' imprisonment, or both, according to the circumstances. If he has lived a long time abroad, and the circumstances indicate that he expatriated himself in good faith and not for the purpose of evading his military obligations, the sentence is made as light as possible, if not altogether omitted ; but, in the contrary case, it is made as severe as possible. When, whether punished or not, he is released by the military authorities, he is again turned over to the civil authorities, who, if he is considered a bona fide foreigner, discharge him, but, in the contrary case, order him to be expelled. “Nine times out of ten," says Mr. Vignaud," an order of expulsion awaits the Frenchman naturalized abroad who ventures to come to France before having performed his military service. The interposition of the legation in such cases is useless. The French Government is very sensitive on this point, and will listen to no request tending to allow one who has averted military service by placing himself under a foreign flag to remain unmolested, and apparently in defiance of the French military laws, in the midst of those who are rigorously held to obey them. We have occasionally obtained a short extension of the time allowed for leaving France. We have never secured the revocation of an order of expulsion

issued under such circumstances.” (For. Rel. 1884, 176-179.) The information given by Mr. Vignaud is summarized in Mr. Bayard,

Sec. of State, to Mr. Lavigne, April 25, 1885, 155 MS. Dom. Let. 194. November 9, 1886, Mr. McLane, American minister at Paris, asked for the discharge of Pierre Arbios, a naturalized American citizen, who was enrolled in the French army. May 5, 1887, he made a similar demand in behalf of John Fruchier. Both Arbios and Fruchier emigrated to the United States when minors, and both afterwards obtained American citizenship, Arbios through the naturalization of his father, and Fruchier by direct naturalization. On revisiting France they were arrested and imprisoned and brought before the military authorities, who put them into the army.

With reference to these cases, Mr. Bayard instructed Mr. McLane, February 15, 1888, to inform the French Government that the Government of the United States held that a decree of naturalization granted by it to a French citizen was not open to impeachment by the French Government, and that if the subjection of Arbios and Fruchier to enforced military service was “ based upon an assumption that they are not citizens of the United States, this Department asks for their immediate release, and for a proper compensation for the losses which they have received by such detention.” Mr. Bayard further stated that it could not be admitted that American citizens "not charged with any crime, should be detained under arrest for even a single day after their proofs of citizenship have been presented. In cases like this the United States can never admit the propriety of submitting to the ordinary delays of judicial action. The redress which it thus asks the United States Government, when appealed to by foreign governments under similar circumstances, has always promptly given. ... I cannot but think that France, who now accepts as fully as does the United States those principles of liberty of which the right of expatriation is part, will not, in view both of her past and her present relations to the United States, take a position conflicting with these free principles, with the business interests of both countries, with international comity, and with a system on which the Government of the United States is based."

M. Goblet, then minister of foreign affairs, in a note to Mr. McLane, April 26, 1888, stated that it had “ never occurred to the French authorities to question the value of the act of naturalization by virtue of which a Frenchman by birth has become an American. But you will agree with me that, if the Government of the United States is, in fact, the only judge of the conditions under which it grants naturalization to a foreigner, it is the right, on the other hand, of the gov

« PreviousContinue »