Mr. Bancroft to Mr. Seward.

No. 41.]

Sir: Yesterday I had an official meeting with Mr. König, who has received full powers to settle with me the questions relating to the naturalization of Germans in America.

I proposed to him these terms:

1st. Germans and Americans may reciprocally emigrate.

2d. Naturalization after a five years’ residence changes nationality and releases from military duty.

3d. Naturalization till after a residence of five years shall not be binding on the original country.

4th. Naturalization shall not be an excuse for desertion from military service actually entered upon, but shall free from all liabilities for eventual service not due at the time of emigration,

5th. A naturalized citizen returning to his native country with intent [Page 45] to resume his domicile therein and proving his intention by a continuous residence of——, shall not be entitled to the interposition respectively of the United States and of North Germany.

Mr. König received the proposals with general assent, and in return offered to send me a draft of a treaty. This offer I the more cheerfully accepted, as up to this time I had had nothing from the department in writing. In the evening I received the draft. Mr. König appears to me to have impaired the clearness of the paper by a desire, as far as he could, to avoid a glaring conflict with ancient laws; but in substance his project seems to me to offer a basis for the settlement of the questions in discussion. The right of expatriation is conceded. The Prussian law would, wish American citizenship not to be obtainable by a Prussian except after a ten years absence; but Count Bismarck will accept our American rule of five years’ continuous residence, as it has been established by law since 1795.

The second section may need explanation. Mr. König remarked that he wished to meet the case of the fugitive from justice, who, if he chanced to get naturalized in America, could not be demanded under the extradition treaty, and who must remain liable for his old offenses if he should return to Germany.

The third section explains itself and has no obscurity. The fourth is right in principle. If a naturalized German turns his back on America and makes Germany once more his permanent domicile, he should submit to the laws of the country of his choice. * * * * *

I remain, sir, sincerely yours,


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