Costa Rica. 3

3. United States Diplomatic Correspondence, 1866, vol. ii, p. 430.

In December, 1865, Mr. Riotte 3 reported to Mr. Seward that “young men from this re public go to the United States, remain there for a short time, obtain, by means of hard swearing and an inexcusable levity on the part of the court, letters of naturalization, upon which they return for good to their native country, or leave the United States for other parts; and all this for the sole purpose of making this citizenship a bar against the enforcement of whatever obligation by their native or any other government. * * * I think if bad that clerks of courts, too, are authorized to grant such papers, and it is not made the exclusive duty and privilege of courts in open session, which would certainly prevent a good deal of false swearing. But the main difficulty is, in our large cities two witnesses can be got at any moment, and very cheap, to swear to anything; that the persons hunting up such witnesses have, as a matter of course, made up their minds beforehand to commit perjury; that there is no officer bound to look after the interest of the United States in such cases, and that the judges or clerks, instead of requiring two good, substantial witnesses, (they ought to know them personally,) seem to be satisfied with almost any class of witnesses.”

Messrs. Francisco and Juan Quezada, who had obtained naturalization under such circumstances, appealed to their American citizenship to protect them from the Costa Rica conscription.

The Costa Rican authorities4 could not, “even for a moment, admit that a Costa Rican naturalized in a foreign country continues that character after having returned to the country with the implicit intention to live in it;” but agreed to consult Mr. Riotte.

Mr. Riotte refused to interfere, first, because Messrs. Quezada had become redomiciled in Costa Rica, and, secondly, as he stated to them, “even assuming, for argument’s sake, that you were still citizens of the United States, there is another consideration which is not to be lost sight of in deciding upon your second request. A law of Costa Rica (of December 2, 1850,) imposes upon every citizen, the obligation to serve in the army. You had not complied with that duty previous to your adoption as American citizens; and it is the enforcement of that very duty which has brought out your claim to the United States citizenship. Now, I know well that the claim of an adopted citizen’s native country to the fulfillment of his military duty toward that country, and the extent of that claim, was, and is at this moment, a mooted question between the Government of the United States and several European monarchies. Until that question is decided, however, I can scarcely fail if I adopt the view of one of our greatest statesmen, when he answered an adopted citizen, in a case perfectly the same as yours, [Page 1305] ‘But, having returned to the country of your birth, your native domicile and national character revert, and you are bound to obey the laws exactly as if you had not emigrated.’”

On the 16th of February, 1866, Mr. Seward wrote to Mr. Riotte, “The proceedings you have adopted, and the decision you have arrived at in the premises, are approved.”

The irregular proceedings by which Costa Ricans and others obtain certificates of naturalization in the United States without any intention of residing there, to which Mr. Riotte thus called attention, are referred to in the recent report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.

[N. B.—In addition to the foregoing résumé in the appendix to the royal commissioner’s report, reference is made to the correspondence between Mr. Fish and Baron Lederer, (ante, pages 77, 78,) to the correspondence between Mr. Washburn and Mr. Fish , (ante, pages 245, 249, and 256,) and to the following correspondence, printed in connection with Lord Tenderden’s résumé, under the direction of the Seretary of State.]

[227] Mr. Williams to Mr. Fish .

[228] Mr. Beardsley to Mr. Fish .

[229] Mr. Fish to Mr. Beardsley .

[230] Mr. Fish to Mr. Beardsley .

[231] Mr. Schlözer to Mr. Fish .

[232] Mr. Fish to Mr. Schlözer .

[233] Mr. Schlözer to Mr. Fish .

[234] Mr. Davis to Mr. Schlözer .

[235] Mr. Davis to Mr. Hoar .

[236] Mr. Hoar to Mr. Fish .

[237] Mr. Hall to Mr. Davis .

[238] Reply.

[239] Mr. Davis to Mr. Fox .

[240] Mr. Fish to Mr. Boker .

[241] Mr. Boker to Mr. Fish .

[242] Mr. Smithers to Mr. Hunter .

  1. United States Diplomatic Correspondence, 1866, vol. ii, p. 430.
  2. Ibid., 431.