Page images

liable to military tax, or to arrest and punishment in case of nonpayment of the tax."

Circular notice, Department of State, Washington, Jan. 8, 1901, For. Rel.

1901, 499.
As to military service in Switzerland, see Mr. Broadhead, min. to

Switzerland, to Mr. Olney, Sec. of State, No. 87, Aug. 16, 1895, 29 MS.
Desp. Switz.


$ 458.

The United States of America proclaims and practices the principle that an American citizen can not belong to another nationality, and therefore, one wishing to obtain American citizenship must abjure his former nationality. From this has arisen in the international relations of that Republic with other countries, serious conflicts in regard to the state or home right, and a constant danger of resulting in Heimatlosigkeit, homeless people.

To correct these inconveniences the United States have repeatedly proposed to Switzerland the remedy employed by other states, the conclusion of a convention. But so far the Federal Council has been of the opinion that these overtures could not be entertained. This they have been impelled to in view of article 44 of the Federal Constitution, which prescribes that no canton shall deprive a citizen of his Swiss citizenship; and in view of the positive Swiss States right, according to which a Switzer can only by his own free act renounce his Swiss nationality, there was no power to change these principles by a treaty."

Report of a special commission to the Swiss Federal Assembly, 1887, For.

Rel. 1889, 685. Acting on a report made by the American legation at Berne, August 12,

1882, as to the willingness of the President of Switzerland to negotiate a naturalization convention with the United States, on the lines of the convention between the United States and Denmark of 1872, Mr. Frelinghuysen sent instructions, in which the legation was directed to make no concession that would invalidate the right of the United States to naturalize foreigners irrespective of their original obligations, since the United States could not “admit of qualified naturalization, subject to the consent of the country of origin." (Mr. Frelinghuysen, Sec. of State, to Mr. Cramer, No. 7, Oct. 19, 1882, MS..

Inst. Switzerland, II. 148.). November 7, 1882, Mr. Cramer submitted a draft of a convention to the

President of the Confederation, who, after examining it, stated that it contained provisions which were in conflict with the laws of Switzerland, but without specifying the particular conflicts. (Mr. Cramer to Mr. Frelinghuysen, No. 37, Feb. 22, 1883, 21 MS. Desp.

Switzerland.) In his No. 161, August 2, 1881, Mr. Cramer again adverted to the subject,

and on September 16, 1884, was authorized to reopen negotiations on the basis of his instructions. Ile did so November 5, 1884. The Swiss

Government replied, February 20, 1885, that Swiss nationality
depended on citizenship" of or in a canton;" that article 44 of the
Swiss constitution forbade the cantons to deprive anyone of his citi-
zenship, and that the ('onfederation also had no such authority; and
that consequently the ('onfederation lacked the competence to agree
that the acquisition of citizenship in the United States should result
in the loss of Swiss citizenship. (Mr. Olney, Sec. of State, to Mr.

Peak, No. 54, Oct. 27, 1896, MS. Inst. Switz. III. 25.)
The subject was revived by Mr. (ramer's successor, Mr. Winchester, in

his No. 54, April 26, 1886. (24 MS. Desp. Switz.) Mr. Winchester
was authorized to renew negotiations, but only on the basis of previ.
ous instructions. (Mr. Bayard, Sec. of State, to Mr. Winchester,
min. to Switzerland, No. 18, May 17, 1886, MS. Inst. Switzerland, II.

311.) Mr. Winchester subsequently reported that he was unable to induce the

federal council to consider the matter officially, owing to the opinion
that the proposal would involve an amendment of the federal and
cantonal constitutions on a subject concerning which the genius of the
people was opposed to al change. (Mr. Winchester to Mr. Bayard,

No. 131, May 27, 1887, 2.5 VS. Desp. Switzerland.)
Further negotiations did not take place. (Mr. Olney, Sec. of State, to Mr.

Peak, min. to Switzerland, No. 51, Oct. 27, 1896, MS. Inst. Switzer

land, III, 25.) “It would seem very desirable, notwithstanding the abortiveness of the

efforts made toward a naturalization treaty with Switzerland between 1882 and 1889, that a conventional arrangement should be perfected with the ('onfederation for the better determination of the status as well as the personal and property rights of citizens of the l’nited States of Swiss origin. The Helvetian Republic appears to stand, by a somewhat notable anomaly, with the minority of modern states in holding to the now generally abandoned doctrine of perpetual allegiance, and the more remarkably so as its contention seems to rest, not on the old theory of the sovereign's absolute mastership over the subject, but on the individual's relation to the local commune, in which he is held to acquire a species of perpetual denization by descendance, inheritance, or even purchase, that can not be dissolved except with the consent of the commune. This pretension has been pushed so far that even dative Americans, born of naturalized parents, may, it

seems, be held to military duty should they visit Switzerland, " The United States minister at Berne has been instructed to reopen nego

tiations in view of the more encouraging disposition to condude a convention in this regard which was disclosed by a certain consultaltive report made to the Swiss Federal ('ouncil in 1888." (Report of Mr. Olney, Sec. of State, to the President, Dec. 7, 1896, For. Rel. 1996, Ixxxviii.)

I have the honor to invite your excellency's attention to the subject of a naturalization convention between the United States and Switzerland. This subject has engaged the attention of the two Gorernments as far back as in 1884, at which time the Government of the United States urged the project of such a treaty upon the Swiss Government. On the 20th of February, 1885, the Swiss Government, in

response to this proposed treaty, replied that Swiss nationality depends upon citizenship of or in a Canton; that article 44 of the Swiss constitution forbids the Cantons to deprive a citizen of his citizenship, and the confederation also has no authority to do so, and that, consequently, the confederation lacks the competence by treaty to connect with the acquisition of citizenship in the United States the loss of citizenship in Switzerland. In view of this constitutional objection upon the part of Switzerland, the subject was no further pressed at that time.

“ In May, 1888, the committee of the National Council in its report upon the acts of the Federal Council made reference to the repeated suggestions of the United States for a naturalization treaty, set out the objections theretofore made by the Federal Council, and added that the Federal Council had latterly felt well disposed to the project of such a treaty, and concluded with a recommendation that the Council enter into a consideration of the convention proposed.

“ It is the purpose of this note to inquire of your excellency whether the Federal Council now has the competency to negotiate a naturalization convention with the United States, as suggested in the foregoing report, and whether the Swiss Government at present feels disposed to enter into consideration of such a convention.”

Mr. Peak, U. S. minister, to the President of the Swiss Confederation,

Dec. 8, 1896, For. Rel. 1897, 559.

“ In answer to the note of your excellency of December 3 last, submitting to us the project of a treaty between Switzerland and the United States on the subject of naturalization, we have the honor to inform you that to the conclusion of such a treaty as outlined in the above-mentioned project there is opposed to-day, as in 1885, the principle enunciated in Article 44 of the Federal Constitution.

“ If the Government of the United States of America finds it strange (Report of the Secretary of State to the President for the year 1896, p. 28). that Switzerland clings to this principle, it is prayed to remember that it is for each state to regulate for itself the conditions under which one acquires or loses the right of citizenship within its boundaries, and that the practice followed in Switzerland has its foundation in the point of view and sentiment of the Swiss people, just as the principles of law in force in the United States, and differing from ours, spring, no doubt, from the particular character of the American people.

Besides, it is not exact that a Swiss citizen can renounce his Swiss citizenship only with the consent of his commune. If the right of renunciation of Swiss citizenship is contested, the applicant, following the Federal law of July 3, 1896, can have recourse to the Federal tribunal, which, if the conditions mentioned in this law are

H. Doc. 551-vol 343

complied withi, decides what is necessary to enforce his demand. Thus, even lately, the Federal tribunal has held that the fact of not having paid the military tax is not a valid reason for withholding the right to renounce citizenship.”

The President of the Swiss ('onfederation to Mr. Peak, U. s. minister,

Jauni, 22, 1897, For. Rel. 1897, 560.
Sept. 29, 18996, Mr. Peak addressed to the President of the Swiss Con

federation a note saying that Frederick W. Glardon, a native of the
United States, temporarily residing in Geneva for the purposes of
study-born of parents who had formerly resided in Fribourg, Switz
erland, but who had emigrated to the United States and become
naturalized citizens before his birth, which occurred Aug. 21, 1876–
had been informed by the authorities of Geneva that he must either
formally renounce his Swiss citizenship or else perform military
service. Mr. Glardon on Sept. 18, 1896, attempted to make the
necessary renunciation, but the authorities refused to accept his
pilssport as sutlicient evidence of his American citizenship. Mr.
Peak asked that Glardon's claims to American citizenship be recog-

The Swiss Government replied Oct. 8, 1896, that, in accordance with ar-

ticle 7 of the law of July 3, 1876, Glardon was required to present in
writing an application with proofs, and that these should state that
the applicant was no longer domiciled in Switzerland, and that he
possesses it civil right in the country in which he resides,
If the right of renouncing nationality should be contested at this
point, the cause should be carried before the Federal Tribunal, which
decides in the last instance. The Federal Council has no jurisdic-
tion in questions of this kind." (Mr. Peak, min. to Switzerland, to
Mr. Olney, Sec. of State, No. 45, Oct. 12, 1896, 30 MS. Des. Switzer-

" It will be observed that the Swiss Government declines to consider a naturalization convention now, as in 1885, on the ground that such a convention would be opposed to article 14 of the Swiss constitution. This article as it appears in the constitution of 1818 reads as follows:

“ ART. 44. No canton shall expel from its territory one of its own citizens or deprive him of his rights, whether acquired by birth or settlement.'

" This was amended in 1874 by the following:

" Federal legislation shall fix the conditions upon which foreigners may be naturalized as well as those upon which a Swiss may give up his citizenship in order to obtain naturalization in a foreign country.'

“ The Federal Assembly in 1876, in accordance with this amendment, prescribed the process whereby one might lose or gain the right of Swiss citizenship. This law provides, among other things, that a Swiss citizen, in order to renounce his citizenship, must no longer have a domicil in Switzerland; that he must enjoy a civil capacity

under the laws of the country in which he resides and must have a citizenship in some foreign country already acquired or assured, for himself, his wife, and his minor children. The declaration of renunciation should be in writing, accompanied by proper proof, and presented to the cantonal government. The right of contest is limited to four weeks, and in case of contests the Federal Tribunal decides.

“ It will be observed that the amendment to article 44 gives to Federal legislation the right to prescribe the conditions whereby one might lose his citizenship, and, therefore, it would seem to follow logically that such a prescription as the one sought to be embodied in the proposed treaty (that a Swiss acquiring American citizenship should be held to relinquish his Swiss citizenship) might properly fall within the authority of that body. But, as a matter of fact, whatever the words of the amendment may clearly mean, they have been so often and so forcibly interpreted so as to exclude from the Federal Council or Federal Assembly this power that those bodies do not dare, nor do they consider that they have the right, to oppose themselves to this idea. Thus it is that the declination of the Federal Council to enter into negotiations for a naturalization treaty with the United States must be attributed to a real lack of capacity and not to any wish on their part to oppose it.

“As presenting the Swiss point of view on this subject, I send herewith inclosed to the Department a translation of an interesting and instructive extract from the Handbuch des schweizerischen Bundesstaatrechts, by Dr. J. J. Blumer, a work of noted authority. In this article the author has presented from the Swiss standpoint a clear and succinct view of the doctrine of perpetual allegiance and a history of the interesting discussions to which it has given rise.

“ It will be observed that, however illogical and indefensible the doctrine may be, it is most profoundly embedded in the sentiment of the Swiss people. Citizenship is regarded by them not only as a sacred possession, but also as a valuable property right, entitling the citizen to demand of his commune or canton aid and assistance in case of poverty, or even a home and support in the event of old age and helplessness. It is, perhaps, this aspect of the case which appeals most strongly to Swiss patriotism and is responsible for the manifest repugnance of the Swiss citizen to renounce his citizenship, even after acquiring citizenship in another country. He reserves his Swiss citizenship as a valuable contingency for old age and helplessness, in the event he should not prosper in his adopted country. The doctrine is thoroughly understood and appreciated by all the people of Switzerland, even among the most ignorant peasants, and is taught in all their schools. Those who emigrate to the United States are not ignorant of its nature, but are unwilling to renounce their Swiss citizenship, and

« PreviousContinue »