Mr. Bancroft to Mr. Seward.

No. 12.]

Sir : Herewith I enclose to you a copy of my answer to Prince Hohenlohe, and a translation of the same into English. The object of this reply is—-first, [Page 591]to state explicitly my interpretation of his letter as implying a fall recognition of the right of expatriation ; secondly, to correct immediately his error respecting your views on the right of the naturalized emigrants ; and thirdly, to obtain relief for Mr. Bordroff, partly by argument and partly by request,

Your circular enclosing duplicate copies of the President’s proclamation of September 3d, is received; also your letter No. 16, containing the President’s letter of ceremony to the Grand Duke of Baden, which will be promptly forwarded through the proper channel.

I have the honor to be, sir, yours, sincerely,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

Mr. Bancroft to Prince Hohenlohe.

Mr. Minister President : I have received your letter under the date of the 25th of September, and I make haste to express the pleasure I have derived from the recognition, by the royal Bavarian government, of the inherent right of every man to change his country and his allegiance. This well-approved and firmly settled principle of the old Roman law was the rule of the best organized part of the civilized world more than two thousand years ago, and was ever attended in practice by the best results, as clearly appears from the emphatic language of the great Roman statesman and lawyer.

“ O jura preclara, atque divinitus jam inde a principio Romani nominis a majoribus nostris comparata ! ne quis nostrum plus quam unius civitatis esse possit ; ne quis invitus civitate mutetur ; neve in civitate maneat invitus. Haec enim sunt fundamenta firmíssima nostrse libertatis, sui quemque juris et retinendi et dimittendi esse dominum.” (Cieiro pro Balbo, Cap. 13.)

A formal adhesion to this well-settled principle was to have been expected from the enlightened country whose august monarchs have been famous throughout the world for their liberal care for the culture of the sciences and arts ; and on this subject not the American Secretary of State only, but the President and Congress, and, indeed, the whole people of the United States, will render the due tribute to the just and enlightened views of the Bavarian government.

But in reference to the question raised respecting the nature and effect of emigration, I must beg leave to observe that an emigrant and a naturalized citizen are not exactly convertible terms. He who removes from one country to settle in another is assuredly already an emigrant ; and his subsequent change of allegiance in some measure affects retrospectively his relations towards his mother country in the interval during which the change was in progress.

From the fact that America is a nation composed exclusively of emigrants and their descendants, the questions of international law bearing upon the relations of emigrants to their old homes have, in a peculiar manner, engaged the closest attention of American statesmen ; and after long continued and, as is believed, impartial research, continued through more than one generation, they have been forced to the conclusion, “ that the naturalized migrant cannot be made responsible on his return for any military duty, unless he had been actually required to perform it before his emigration. We do not recognize the binding obligation of contingent duties depending for their performance upon time and other future circumstances.” This view of the subject is simple and natural, and obviously just. The opposite view is attended by contradictions and difficulties, and might be used to defeat the right of emigration.

Great Britain is the country which suffers the largest diminution of its able-bodied population, especially of its mariners, by emigration to the United States. Yet for more than fifty years it has given over all claims to service from its emigrants, and has never fixed a penalty on an emigrant for failing to appear on a summons. The views of the government of France after long discussion are in harmony with those of the United States.

I persuade myself that in like manner a statesman so wise as Prince Hohenlohe, and of such large and comprehensive views, will on further consideration adopt the solution of the question as it practically prevails in Great Britain and France ; especially if he will but present to his mind in all their force the circumstances that have irresistibly led American statesmen to the adoption of the principle which I have cited, and which forms a standing instruction to all the ministers and diplomatic agents of the United States.

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From these considerations I would, therefore, again commend the case of Mr. Bardroff to the benevolent consideration of Prince Hohenlohe. From all that appears Mr. Bardroff is a brave and honest man, who obtained his naturalization in a fair and honorable manner ; and it will be very agreeable for me to be enabled to assure my government that he has been relieved from the effects of a sentence for non-appearance in Bavaria after emigration. The benefit to the Bavarian government by the execution of the sentence must be very trivial, while surely Prince Hohenlohe will agree that the sentence, as passed upon an absent man who had violated no law and fled from no actual obligation, is a very hard one.

In the great movement of the nations, the United States and Bavaria meet but rarely; let us take care, as far as we can, that whenever they do meet, their respective agents may be equally animated by moderation and love of justice, and that the few opportunities of official intercourse that are offered may only tend to advance the friendship of the two countries.

It further deserves to be remembered that the emigrants to America benefit the country from which they emigrate by promoting commerce between their old and new homes. Moreover, just in proportion as they thrive, they turn a part of their resources to the benefit of their family and friends in the country of their birth, following in this the example of that illustrious adopted citizen of Bavaria, Count Rumford, who was faithful to his new allegiance and at the same time left evidences of his abiding love for America.

In conclusion I request you to accept the assurance of my highest esteem.


His Serene Highness Prince Hohenlohe Shillingsfürst, Minister Resident of Foreign Affairs, Munich.