Mr. Seward to Mr. Yeaman.
Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch of the 8th of September, No. 101, which relates to the interesting subject of the effect to be secured by naturalization, in the United States, of persons emigrating from and dissolving their allegiance to foreign nations. Your suggestion that records of naturalization should be preserved in the Department of State, and that transcripts thereof should be furnished to the governments whose allegiance is renounced, has much merit, and will be cheerfully brought to the attention of proper committees in Congress. I will not conceal from you, however, that the difficulties attending such a proceeding are so great as to make it seem impracticable. Two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) emigrants, male and female, old and young, arrive in this country annually. In the course of a few years all of them become citizens by admission in the federal, State, and territorial courts, in the 40 and more States and Territories of the Union.
In so great a number of cases, there would be much confusion of names. Especially, transcripts in which the names of wives, widows, and infant children should be mentioned, would give very uncertain information to the foreign States concerned. After much reflection I have formed the opinion that the democratic principle of the natural right of men to change their homes and allegiance, as the hope of improvement or other motives may prompt them, is to become an acknowledged principle throughout the civilized world, and that the sooner it is accepted by European States, as it has been by our own, the better it will be for all parties concerned, and for the peace and welfare of all mankind.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
George H. Yeaman, Eqs.,&c., &c., &c.