The provisions of the Code Napoléon,1 March 8, 1803, are as follows:

Chapter I.—On the enjoyment of civil rights.

The exercise of civil rights is independent of the quality of a citizen, which is acquired and retained only in conformity to constitutional law.
Every Frenchman shall enjoy civil rights.
Every individual born in France of an alien may, within a year following the time when he shall have attained his majority, claim the quality of a Frenchman, provided that, in case he reside in France, he declares that it is his intention to fix his domicile there, and in case he reside in a foreign country he makes a declaration that he will take up his residence in France, and that he will establish himself there within a year, counting from the act of this declaration.
Every child of a French citizen born in a foreign country is French. Every child of French parents born abroad, whose father shall have lost his French citizenship, may recover this citizenship by fulfilling the formalities prescribed in article 9.
An alien shall enjoy in France the same civil rights as those accorded to the French by the treaties of the nation to which this alien shall belong.
An alien woman who shall have married a Frenchman shall follow the condition of her husband.
An alien who shall have permission by authority of the King to establish his [Page 1277] domicile in France shall enjoy all civil rights as long as he shall continue to reside therein.
An alien even not residing in France may be cited before French courts for the execution of obligations contracted by him in France with a Frenchman; he may be arraigned before the tribunals of France for obligations contracted by him in a foreign country with Frenchmen.
A Frenchman may be arraigned before a court of France for obligations contracted by him in a foreign country, even with an alien.
In all affairs other than those of commerce the alien who shall be the plaintiff shall be obliged to give bail for the payment of the costs and damages resulting from the process, at least when he does not possess real estate in France of a sufficient value to insure this payment.

Chapter II.—On the forfeiture of civil rights.

Section I. On the forfeiture of civil rights by the loss of French citizenship.

French citizenship shall be lost, first, by naturalization in a foreign country; second, by the acceptance, without the authorization of the King, of a public office conferred by a foreign government; third, and finally, by any establishment in a foreign country without intent to return. Commercial establishments can never be considered as having been made without intent to return.
A native of France who shall have lost his citizenship may always recover it on re-entering France with the authorization of the King, and on declaring that he wishes to remain there, and that he renounces all distinction contrary to French law.
A French woman who shall marry an alien shall follow the condition of her husband. If she become a widow she shall recover her quality of a French citizen provided that she reside in France, or that she return there with the authorization of the King, and on declaring that she wishes to establish herself there.
Individuals who shall regain the quality of French citizens in the cases provided for by articles 10, 18, and 19, shall not profit by it until they shall have fulfilled the conditions imposed on them by these articles, and only for the exercise of the rights opened for their benefit since this epoque.
The French citizen who, without the authorization of the King, shall enter a foreign military service, or who shall affiliate himself with a foreign military corporation, shall lose his French citizenship. He can re-enter France only by the permission of the King, and recover French citizenship only by fulfilling the conditions imposed on a foreigner about to become a citizen—all without prejudice to the punishment pronounced by criminal law against Frenchmen who have borne or shall bear arms against their country.


An imperial decree of 1811 imposes severe penalties upon Frenchmen naturalized abroad without permission from their own government.

It is a question whether this decree is still in force, but it appears to have been acted upon in 1834; and it is referred to in an official communication from the French gov-vernment in 1859.

At all events it has never been formally abrogated, and its existence in the French statute book must be borne in mind when the liberality of the French law in recognizing expatriation is extolled.

The other disabilities mentioned in it having been abolished, the only penalty enacted by this decree which could now be enforced is that of the seventy-fifth article of the penal code1:

“Every Frenchman who shall have borne arms against France shall be punished by death.” (Imperial decree of the 26th of August, 1811.)

Title I. French citizens naturalized in a foreign country with our authorization.

  • Article 1. No French citizen can be naturalized in a foreign country without our authorization.
  • Art. 2. Our authorization shall be accorded by letters-patent drawn up by our chief justice, signed by our hand, countersigned by our secretary of state, indorsed by our cousin the Prince Archichancelier, inserted in the bulletin of laws, and registered in the imperial court of the last domicile of those whom they concern.
  • Art. 3. Frenchmen so naturalized in foreign countries shall enjoy the right of possessing, of transmitting property, and of succession thereto, even when the subject of the country where they shall be naturalized shall not enjoy these rights in France.
  • Art. 4. Children of a Frenchman naturalized in a foreign country, and who are born [Page 1278] in that country, are aliens. They recover the quality of French citizens by fulfilling the formalities prescribed by articles 9 and 10 of the Code Napoléon. Nevertheless they shall collect inheritances, and exercise all rights which shall be open to their profit during their minority, and in the ten years which shall succeed the time when they shall attain their majority.
  • Art. 5. Frenchmen naturalized in a foreign country even with our authorization shall never bear arms against France under penalty of being arraigned before our courts, and condemned to the punishment provided in the penal code, book 3, articles 75 and following.

Title II.—French citizens naturalized in a foreign country without our authorization.

  • Article 6. Any Frenchman naturalized in a foreign country without our authorization shall suffer the loss of his property, which shall be confiscated. He shall no longer have the right to inherit property, and any legacies which may be left to him shall pass into the hands of the person whose claim is next to his, provided that such person be a French citizen.
  • Art. 7. It shall be proved before the court of the last domicile of the defendant, on the initiative of our “procureur-general,” or on the request of the civil party interested, that the individual, having been naturalized in a foreign country without our authority, has lost his civil rights in France; and consequently, the succession opened to his profit shall be adjudged to whomsoever has the right thereto.
  • Art. 8. Individuals whose naturalization in a foreign country without our authorization shall have been proved, as provided in the preceding article, and who shall have received, directly or by transmission, titles instituted by the “senatus consultum” of the 14th August, 1808, shall forfeit them.
  • Art. 9. These titles, and the property thereto attached, shall devolve upon the next in law, excepting the rights of the wife, which shall be regulated as in case of widowhood.
  • Art. 10. If the individuals mentioned in article 8 shall have received any of our orders, they shall be stricken off from the registers and rolls, and shall be forbidden to wear the decoration.
  • Art. 11. Those who were naturalized in a foreign country, and against whom proceedings shall have taken place as provided in articles 6 and 7 preceding, if found within the territories of the empire, shall, on the first offense, be arrested and conducted across the frontier; on a repetition of the offense, they shall be indicted before our courts and condemned to imprisonment for a period of not less than one year nor more than ten years.
  • Art. 12. And no commutation or release from the punishment above mentioned can take place but by letters of relief granted by us in conseil privé as letters of pardon.
  • Art. 13. Every individual naturalized in a foreign country without our authorization, who shall bear arms against France, shall be punished in conformity with article 75 of the penal code.

The ninth article of the Code Napoléon was modified bv a law of 1851:

“January 28–29, and February 7, 1851. (10th series, No. 2,730.) (article 9, C. N.) Law concerning individuals born in France of foreigners who themselves were born there, and the children of naturalized foreigners:

Article I. Every individual born in France of an alien who himself was born there, is himself a French citizen, provided that within a year after attaining his majority, as fixed by French law, he does not claim the quality of a foreigner by a declaration made either before the municipal authority of the place of his residence, or before the diplomatic agents or consuls accredited to France by the foreign government.

“2. Article 9 of the civil code is applicable to the children of a naturalized foreigner, although born in a foreign country, if they were minors at the time of the naturalization. As regards the children born in France or abroad, who were of age at this same period, article 9 of the civil code is applicable in the year following that of the said naturalization.”

By the law on the army of 1831, (21st March, 1832,) “No one shall be allowed to serve in the French army who is not a French citizen.”

This provision has led to much correspondence between France and other powers, more especially the United States, respecting the right to exemption from the conscription, on their return to France, of Frenchmen naturalized abroad.

In 1859 M. Walewski furnished the American chargé d’affaires with an authoritative declaration of the views of the French government on this point:

Paris, November 25, 1859.1

Sir: I have the honor to communicate to you the reply of the government of the Emperor to the questions which the deceased Mr. Mason had put to him in his letter of [Page 1279] the 27th of July last, relative to Frenchmen emigrants to the United States who have there obtained letters of naturalization.

“After having set forth the principles of the American law in the matter of naturalization, Mr. Mason reduced his inquiry to a formula, as follows:

First question. Does the French legislation recognize in individuals, French by birth, the right to cause themselves to be naturalized as subjects or citizens of a foreign country, without preliminary authorization from the government?

“French legislation does not confer on a Frenchman the right to renounce his nationality, but he loses it by positive law (article 7, Code Napoleon) through naturalization in a foreign country.

“That naturalization, by the terms of the decree of August 26, 1811, may have grave consequences, provided for by that decree, when it has not been authorized by the government.

“Even in cases in which such authorization has been accorded, it effectively disperses the prejudicial results of an unauthorized naturalization, but expressly maintains the loss of nationality.

Second question. Are Frenchmen by birth, but naturalized citizens of the United States, who return to France without “having the intention to recover their nationality nor to establish themselves permanently, subject to the law of conscription?

“The law of conscription imposes on every Frenchman the obligation of military service. It attaches to the fulfillment of this obligation a penal sanction.

“Therefore, the Frenchman who, before he had lost that quality, shall have emigrated, thus placing himself out of the way of the obligation of military service, would assuredly be punishable on his return to France, even although he should have obtained a foreign naturalization, and he may be prosecuted, whether as refractory (article 230 du nouveau code militaire, loi du Juin, 1859) or as a deserter, (articles 235, 236, 237, of same date.)

“This, moreover, is recognized by the Government of the United States, as it is a sequence from the letter of Mr. Mason, that it refuses its protection to the Frenchman become a stranger, in the two cases following:

  • “1. If the obligation of military service be anterior to the epoch of emigration.
  • “2. If, before his emigration, the Frenchman had not satisfied the law of conscription. The question becomes more difficult when it treats of a man born abroad of French parents, and who, consequently, by the provisions of article 10 of Code Napoléon, is himself a Frenchman, and bound to military service, in conformity with article 6 of the law of March 21, 1832.

“But if, in France, the quality of citizen is now actually acquired by parentage, yet, for a long time, nativity alone conferred it, and it may still be so in the United States. In such a case it would be hard to subject to French law an individual who should have fulfilled similar obligations toward the country in which he was born.

Third question. Does the French law of conscription render the Frenchman born and resident in a foreign country subject to military service in the same degree as if he had not left the country of his birth, or as if he had not caused himself to be naturalized as a foreigner?

“This question is disposed of by the solution which the Federal Government itself admits to the second.

“If, in effect, the Frenchman, before emigrating and causing himself to be naturalized in a foreign country, has not satisfied the obligation of military service, evidently he may be prosecuted in France, in case of his return, even though the return should be only accidental. Besides, he might, during his absence, have been sentenced for contumacy, and his presence in France would impose, as well on the public authority as himself, the duty of clearing off this contumacy.

“Such are the solutions which the three questions that the legation of the United States has presented to me can receive. It is difficult, however, to treat them theoretically, without knowledge of the circumstances which may have given birth to them, which often are of a nature to draw out modifications of the application of strict law.

“I will add that all the points treated in the present dispatch present veritable questions of state, upon which the government of the Emperor can only express opinions, but the solutions belong exclusively to the courts.

“Receive, &c.,


“Mr. Calhoun ,
Chargé d’ Affaires of the United States at Paris.”

It will be seen from M. Walewski’s note that he considered that a Frenchman naturalized abroad was liable to the law of conscription on his return to France; but a case occurred in 1860 in which it was decided by a civil tribunal that naturalization in a foreign country exempted a Frenchman from the conscription.

The case, that of Mr. Zeiter, is frequently referred to in the correspondence, and is of importance as estabhshing a principle of French law.

[Page 1280]

It has never been published, bnt a copy has now been procured from Wissembourg, where the judgment was delivered, and is printed in the addenda (F.)

These conscription cases are ordinarily dealt with by the local military tribunals, (conseils de guerre,) and there does not seem to have been any other instance of a recent decision on the subject by a civil court, nor does this provincial judgment appear to have been revised by a superior court.

Lord Lyons has been good enough to procure a report from M. Treitt, the counsel to the Paris embassy, upon the general question of the status in France of Frenchmen naturalized abroad, with reference especially to their liability to the conscription.

As this report gives full explanation of the French law and of the practice of the French government, it is here inserted at length:

Paris, January 26, 1868.

“His Excellency Lord Lyons, embassador of Her Britannic Majesty at Paris:

My Lord: Your excellency has requested of me a copy of a judgment rendered by the French court at Wissembourg, in favor of Michel Zeiter, a French citizen by birth. The judgment is quoted by Laurence, in his notes on Wheaton, (edition of 1863,) as having discharged Michel Zeiter from all the obligations which a Frenchman owes to his country, among others the obligation to perform military service. The reason alleged for this decision is that Zeiter had been naturalized as a citizen of the United States.

“It is added that this judgment seems to be one of the rare decisions (if not the only one) in which a court has acknowledged that the naturalization of a person in a foreign country is sufficient to annul the sovereign rights of the mother country, and the obligations which he has there contracted byliis birth.

“In view of the remarks which I had the honor to address to your excellency, you have referred me to a note which Count Walewski, minister of foreign affairs of France, addressed to Mr. Calhoun, the American minister, under date of November 25, 1859, which note was published in 1860 among the documents communicated to the Congress of the United States. In that note M. Walewski does not admit that a French citizen can, by the mere fact of his naturalization abroad, be exempted from the obligations imposed upon him by the laws of his country, and escape, among other requirements, the military service. In this latter case, says the minister, such refractory Frenchman incurs the penalties provided by the military code (article 230) for failure to perform military duty. M. Walewski, moreover, calls attention to the imperial decree of August 26, 1811, which provides severe penalties for Frenchmen who have become naturalized as foreigners without the authorization of their government.

“Finally, your excellency has been pleased to point me to the case of one Alibert, belonging to the class of 1839, who failed to perform military duty, and who was, on the 10th of October, 1852, sentenced to be imprisoned for one month therefor, by a court-martial at Marseilles. He appealed, however, from this sentence, to the court of revision at Toulon, and there, with the assistance of the American consul, he pleaded his naturalization in the United States, and was acquitted.

“In sum, your excellency has addressed to me the following question:

“What is the law governing a Frenchman who has been naturalized as a foreigner after his return to France?

“The question is simple, but the reply will necessarily be complex.

“I give, in the first place, a copy of a sentence of the court at Wissembourg, dated June 2, 1860. (Vide Addenda F.)

“As is seen, this sentence only shows that Zeiter has lost his French citizenship. The legal consequence of this showing is that he can no longer serve in the French army. It was no part of the duty of the court, however, to concern itself with the penalties and civil incapacities which Zeiter might have incurred, as we shall subsequently see. This decision is based upon law, as are several others rendered by different courts in similar cases, especially since the war between the North and South, on account of which many Frenchmen, naturalized as American citizens, returned to France.

“The naturalization of a Frenchman abroad, whatever may be his new country, involves the loss of his French citizenship, and this involves ipso facto incapacity for the military service. This is the case of Alibert; he doubtless proved his American citizenship, and was exempted from the penalty attached to the offense of willfully avoiding military duty, said penalty being imprisonment for from one month to one year, according to article 38 of the army law of 1832.

“The above two cases are not reported in any work on jurisprudence; they are not, however, the only ones; there are half a score of them in the bureau of military justice at the ministry of war.

“The military authorities in France observe with regret the disposition which has been manifested during the past three years, by the young men of the country, to avoid the performance of military duty.

“The ministry of war now proceeds in such cases as follows:

“When the case of a person who has sought to avoid the due performance of military [Page 1281] duty is brought before it, it has the party charged with the offense taken before a court-martial, for such a person is a soldier who has not rejoined his regiment.

“If the person seeking to avoid the performance of military duty pleads naturalization in a foreign country, the court-martial defers the enforcement of the penalty and grants the accused a delay, that he may be enabled to prove his foreign citizenship in the courts.

“If he obtains a judgment declaring that he has lost his French citizenship, the court-martial acquits him, but only when his naturalization took place three years before. If this is not the case, the judges enforce the penalty provided for the offense. In fact, the avoidance of military service is an offense which no mere lapse of time can cancel; it lasts until the military service is rendered. Now, the jurisprudence of courts-martial says that the offense no longer exists when the offender has become naturalized in a foreign country; thenceforward the offender who has been naturalized more than three years incurs no penalty. If, on the other hand, the naturalization did not take place more than three years previously, the ex-Frenchman is treated as a person willfully avoiding military service, and is punished, even though he be a citizen of some other country, no matter which.

“Thus, in order to escape such a penalty, the ex-Frenchman must pass at least three years abroad. If he returns before the expiration of such time, he incurs the risk of suffering imprisonment for from one month to one year, by sentence of court-martial, for he is still avoiding the performance of military duty.

“We must not forget to say that when, in this case, the person seeking to avoid military service has suffered his punishment, he is free, and his foreign citizenship prevents him from being compelled to serve in the French army.

“Such are the rules observed by the bureau of military justice at the ministry of war.

“Things are managed in about the same way for the national guard. There there are boards of verification.

“It is the duty of these boards to decide concerning the grounds of exemption claimed by persons who refuse to do military duty.

“Now, it often happens (this I say of my own knowledge) that natives of France, when called to serve in the national guard, present American or other naturalization papers. In presence of such documents these persons have been declared exempt from the service by reason of their foreign citizenship. Moreover, an opinion of the council of state of November 18, 1842, has sanctioned this system of jurisprudence.

“From all the foregoing observations what are we to conclude? It is that a Frenchman may, by getting naturalized abroad, escape the obligations which are imposed upon him by the country of his birth.

“This consequence is derived from the common law and from the exceptional law.

“Article XVII of the civil code expressly says that French citizenship is lost by naturalization acquired in a foreign country. It appears from the debates of the legislature of 1803 that the word ‘acquired’ was applied to an act of express will, performed according to the legal forms of the new country, and having for its object the renunciation, proprio motu, of French citizenship. (Locré, Esprit du Code Civil, vol. 1, p. 333.)

“The civil code, then, permits Frenchmen to acquire a foreign nationality. It is, in fact, a principle inherent in human liberty, a principle of natural right, that a person may leave the soil on which his birth may by chance have thrown him. This principle is admitted by all publicists from Cicero1 down to those of our time. The French laws contain frequent enunciations of it. Naturalization in Prussia, however, is subject, it is said, to the previous authorization of the government. (Prussian code, article 2, book 17, § 127.)

“In France, however, according to the civil code, which is the common law, the right of being naturalized abroad is absolute.

“On the 26th of August, 1811, the Emperor Napoleon I promulgated a decree relative to the naturalization of frenchmen abroad.

“Article I of this decree is as follows:

“‘No Frenchman can be naturalized in a foreigncountry without our authorization.’ “The following articles mention the civil rights which Frenchmen naturalized in a foreign country shall continue to enjoy in France:

“Article VI is as follows:

“‘Article VI. Any Frenchman naturalized in a foreign country, without our authorization, shall suffer the loss of his property,’which shall be confiscated; he shall no longer have the right to inherit property, and any legacies which may be left to him shall pass into the hands of the person whose claim is next to his; provided that such person be a French citizen.

“Finally, Article XI gives the government the power to expel from France any [Page 1282] Frenchman naturalized in a foreign country without authorization; and, in case of his return to the territory of the empire a second time, he may he sentenced to he imprisoned for a term of not less than one year nor more than ten years.

“Napoleon I, it is said, was induced to promulgate this decree by seeing Frenchmen who were ill-disposed toward the empire among hostile nations and in foreign armies. Thus is explained the severity of this decree, which has been the object of the most bitter attacks. In the first place, it has been said that it was unconstitutional, because it was prepared and promulgated without the concurrence of the Corps Législatif, contrary to the constitutions impériales. Moreover, since the fall of the first empire, some writers have maintained that this decree has become obsolete. There are even decisions of the government of the Restoration which have annulled judgments rendered in virtue of this decree. (Decisions of the council of state of June 19, inserted in the Bulletin des lois).

“A greater number of authors, however, have contended that this decree still had the force of a law, for the reason that it had never been attacked and annulled by the Corps Législatif. Moreover, numerous decisions have declared that the imperial decrees promulgated and executed as laws in the time of the empire have remained in force in all their provisions which have not been abrogated by subsequent laws. In fact, the decree of 1811 has been enforced in cases of legacies left by Frenchmen who had been naturalized abroad without authorization.1

“This decree, however, is none the less a violation of the natural law, as it provides severe penalties for naturalization abroad, while all publicists proclaim the right which every man has to change his country.

“This decree is, at the present day, paralyzed in its application; in fact, the confiscation of property was abolished by the charter of 1814. Then came the law of July 14, 1819, which gives all foreigners the same rights as Frenchmen, as regards property and inheritance, without distinction between foreigners by birth and foreigners by naturalization. A solemn decision of the court of Paris has decided that this decree is not applicable to the right of inheriting property.2

“The annals of jurisprudence have not, for more than twenty years, furnished a single case in which either the government or parties interested have caused the enforcement of the decree of 1811. I think that, if the case should be presented, the courts would hesitate a long time before enforcing the rigorous provisions of this exceptional legislation.

“But how many uncertainties are there in this matter, so important, since it affects the personal status of the parties.

“Let us observe, however, that the decree of April 26, 1811, (whether it is still in force or has become obsolete,) does not annul naturalizations acquired abroad without authorization; it inflicts penalties therefor, but allows them to exist. The Frenchman has therefore a new country, to which he has been obliged to take the oath of allegiance. No one can have two countries.3 The general interest requires that no one should have two countries.4

“The country of adoption supplants the mother country. In my opinion the ex-Frenchman is released from his obligations toward the latter. The English government, in giving letters of naturalization to foreigners, notifies them, at the same time, that it does not intend to release them from their obligations toward their mother country.

“This is an act of prudence. But the French law is silent upon the rights which it retains over individuals who obtain naturalization abroad without authority. She places them on a similar footing to strangers so far as relates to civil rights. Thus the French law itself breaks the ties which unite an ex-Frenchman to his mother country. Aside from the confiscation of property and the loss of right of succession—penalties of 1811, to-day inapplicable and unapplied—the law imposes on the exFrenchman the sole obligation never to bear arms against France on pain of death.5

“The Frenchman who gives up his nationality knows the rights of which he will be deprived in France. The courts can refuse to give him their judgments in his disputes with foreigners. If he is plaintiff or defendant, he can be subjected to the category of judicatum solvi. He no longer enjoys any political or municipal rights. He is disqualified for public offices and the practice of certain professions; in short, to curtail the list, he can be expelled from French territory, like all other strangers, by a simple act of the police.6

“Frenchmen must have calculated inconveniences and the advantages of foreign naturalization. He is released from the burdens imposed by the mother country.

[Page 1283]

“This state of things is to he regretted. For instance, to become naturalized a Swiss, one year’s residence and the payment of a few francs are sufficient. It is a great facility given to young Frenchmen who wish to escape the military law. This point merits the attention of French legislators, but at this moment the law must be taken as it is, and it must be conceded that naturalization abroad releases a Frenchman from his obligations toward France. The decisions of the courts only confirm the expatriation; the consequences of expatriation emanate from the laws themselves; one of these consequences is the exemption from military service.

“I believe that I have answered in every particular the question which your excellency has put to me. I have freed it from all collateral questions which the loss of French nationality suggests, but which would have rendered the subject obscure. In sum, I am led to the conclusion that France does not impose any other obligation on the ex-Frenchman than not to bear arms against her.

“I take leave to add that this conclusion shocks my inward feelings. I regret to see a simple naturalization abroad cancel all the obligations which are due to the mother country. But questions of law are not solved by the feelings alone; it is a matter of law as it is and not as it ought to be. “Accept, &c.,

Advocate of the Imperial Court, Counsel to the English Embassy.”

naturalization of aliens in france.

Under the old law of France, the Dutch and Swiss and other nations had, by virtue of treaties, the rights of natives, (indigenatûs,) and by the Bourbon Family Compact of 1761 a similar privilege was conceded to Spanish subjects.

The law of May 2, 1790, provided—

“All those who, born out of the kingdom, of foreign parents, are established in France, shall be regarded as French and admitted, upon taking the civic oath, to the exercise of the rights of active citizens after five years’ continuous domicile in the kingdom, if they have, besides, acquired real estate or married a French woman, or established a commercial house, or received in any city letters of citizenship.”

The constitution of the 3d of September, 1791, “allows the legislative power to issue to a foreigner, for important considerations, an act of naturalization, on condition only of his residence and oath.”

Thus was established the system of “grande et petité naturalisation,” which, with various modifications, has continued in force up to the accession of the present Emperor.

The constitution of 1793 did away with the oath and declared French citizens all aliens aged 21 who had been domiciled in France for one year, and who lived by labor.

The constitution of 1795 abrogated that of 1793, and made it a condition of naturalization that an alien should, have previously declared his intention to domicile himself in France.

By the terms of the third article of the constitution of 1801 “a foreigner becomes a French citizen when, after having attained the age of twenty-one years and declared the intention of settling in France, he has resided there ten consecutive years.”

By a decree of the senate of 1804, confirmed by a decree of the 17th of February, 1808, the government was authorized to confer the quality of French citizen, after one year’s residence, on any alien who had rendered important services to France, thus reviving the “grande naturalisation” of 1790, but without requiring an oath.

By an ordinance of the 4th of June, 1814, article 1, “in conformity to the ancient French constitutions, no foreigner can, from this day forth, sit, neither in the chamber of peers nor in that of the deputies, unless by important services rendered to the state he has obtained from us (the king) naturalization papers approved by the two chambers.”

The privilege of “grande naturalisation” has been conferred on Benjamin Constant and other distinguished foreigners. These laws were consolidated by the law of the 3d of December, 1849:

Article 1. The President of the republic shall decide upon applications for naturalization.1

“Naturalization cannot be granted until.after inquiry made by the government respecting the morality of the foreigner, and upon the favorable opinion of the counsel of state.

“The foreigner shall be obliged, besides, to fulfill the following conditions:

“1. To have, after the age of twenty-one years, obtained authority to establish his domicile in France in conformity to article 13 of the Civil Code.

“2. To have resided ten years in France since this authorization.

“A naturalized foreigner shall enj oy the right of eligibility for the National Assembly only by virtue of a law.

[Page 1284]

“2. Notwithstanding, the delay of ten years can he reduced to one year in favor of foreigners who shall have rendered important services to France, or who shall have introduced into France an industrial enterprise, or useful inventions, or distinguished talents, or who shall have founded great institutions.

“3. So long as the naturalization shall not have been issued, the authority granted to a foreigner to establish his domicile in France can always be revoked by decision of the government, which must take the advice of the council of state.

“4. The provisions of the law of the 14th October, 1814, respecting the inhabitants of the departments annexed to France, cannot be applied in the future.

“The preceding provisions do not affect, in any respect, the rights of eligibility to the National Assembly acquired by naturalized foreigners before the promulgation of the present law.

“6. The foreigner who shall have made, before the promulgation of the present law, the declaration prescribed by the third article of the constitution of the year yill, can, after a residence of ten years, obtain naturalization according to the form indicated in article 1.

“7. The minister of the interior can, through police, order all foreigners traveling Or residing in France to immediately leave French territory and cause them to be conducted to the frontier.

“He shall have the same right regarding the foreigner who shall have obtained authority to establish his domicile in France; but after the lapse of two months the measure shall cease to be in force, if the authority shall not have been revoked as indicated in article 3.

“In the departments on the frontier the prefect shall have the same right in regard to a non-resident foreigner, subject to immediate reference to the minister of the interior.

“8. Every stranger who shall have evaded the execution of the measures specified in the preceding article, or in article 272 of the Penal Code, or who, after having left France in consequence of those measures, shall have returned without the permission of the government, shall be brought before the courts and condemned to an imprisonment of from one to six months.

“After the expiration of his term of punishment he shall be led to the frontier.

“The penalties prescribed by the present law can be reduced in conformity to the provisions of article 483 of the Penal Code.”

On the 29th of June, 1867, a law was passed reducing the term of residence required from ten to three years:

Art. 1. The articles 1 and 2 of the law of 3d December, 1849, are supplanted by the following provisions:

Art. 1, A foreigner who, after the age of twenty-one years, has, in conformity to article 13 of the Code Napoléon, obtained authority to establish his domicile in France and has resided there three years, can be admitted to enjoy all the rights of a French citizen.

“The three years shall count from the day when the application for authority shall have been registered at the ministry of justice.

“The domicile in a foreign country to fill an office conferred by the French government is equivalent to residence in France.

“It is granted upon an application for naturalization, after inquiry into the moral character of the foreigner, by a decree of the Emperor, issued upon the report of the minister of justice, subject to the council of state.

Art. 2. The delay of three years fixed by the preceding article, can be reduced to a single year in favor of foreigners who shall have rendered important services to France, who shall have introduced into France an industrial enterprise or useful inventions, or who shall have brought to it distinguished talents, or founded great institutions, or instituted great agricultural improvements.

Art. 2. The fifth article of the law of December 3, 1849, is repealed.”

It will be seen, therefore, that there are two forms of naturalization in France:

“La grande naturalisation,”1 which confers the privilege of sitting in the chambers, and which corresponds, in some measure, to the former English form of special naturalization by act of Parliament, repealing the disabilities of previous acts in favor of a particular person, as was done in the case of Prince Albert, and to the present naturalization by act of Parliament, as in the Bischoff-sheim case.

“La petite naturalisation” corresponds with our naturalization by certificate from the secretary of state, and is granted by lettres de déclaration de naturalité to aliens who have complied with the conditions of the law. The alien is supposed to have resided in France with the permission of the government, from the fact of his name and domicile [Page 1285] having been registered with the ministry of the interior, as required by the police regulations from all residents.

Debate in Corps Legislatif on the army bill, December, 1867.

In the recent discussion on the law for the reorganization of the army, M. des Rotours proposed the following amendment to the first clause of the bill:

“Persons born in France of foreign parents, and having had their residence there, will be subjected to the recruiting law in the year following that of their majority.

“Those among them who wish to preserve their character of foreigners will make declaration thereof, and shall be admitted into the foreign legion.”

Maréchal Niel, the minister of war, spoke in favor of the principle of this amendment, and stated that the conscription ought at all events to be extended to the sons born in France of aliens themselves born in France, and who, by the law of 1851, were declared to be Frenchmen, unless they selected the nationality of their fathers on attaining their majority.

Objection was, however, taken to making such an alteration in the laws affecting the nationality of aliens by means of a clause introduced into an army bill and, on M. Baroche, minister of justice, undertaking that the matter should receive the careful attention of the government, M. des Rotours withdrew his amendment.

Number of English subjects who, from 1851 to 1861, obtained authority to establish their domicile in France, and of those who, during the same period, were naturalized as Frenchmen.

Années. Admission à domicile. Naturalizations.
1851 8
1852 6
1853 6 1
1854 6
1855 5 1
1856 3
1857 9
1858 24
1859 13
1860 9 2
1861, Janvier à Avril 3
92 4

(For further information respecting French naturalization, see Fœlix, “Droit International Privé,” already cited, and “Revue de Droit Francais et Etrangers,” par MM. Fœlix Duvergier, &c., vol. xii., p. 321; Article, “De la Naturalisation collective et de la perte collective de la qualité de Francais,” par M. Fœlix, and vol. x, p. 446; “Des Effets de la Naturalisation,” par M. Fœlix; and “Dictionnaire de Droit,” parM. Dalloz, “Naturalisation.”)

  1. Code Napoleon, “Code Civil,” liv. i, c. 7.
  2. Les Cinq Codes “Code Penal,” liv. iii, article 75.
  3. Senate Ex. Doc, 1859–’60, vol. xi, p. 214.
  4. Ciceron, “Oratio pro Cornelio Balbo,” c. 13; Grotius, lib. ii and v, § 24; Puffendorf, lib. viii, c. 11, sc-2; Merlin, “Répertoire Général,” verbo “Souverainete,” § 4; Wolf, 76th part, p. 187; “French Constitution of Frimaire, year VIII,” in its 4th article; Toullier, “Code Civil,” vol. i, No. 266; &c.
  5. See, among others, a decision of the court of Pau, of March 19, 1834. (Collection of Decisions, of Dalloz, year 1835, 2d part, p. 38.)
  6. Decision of February 1, 1836. Dalloz’s Collection of Decisions, 1836, 2d part, p. 71.
  7. “Statement of reasons for the first title of the Civil Code,” 1803.
  8. General Repertory of Merlin, verbo “Loi,” § 6.
  9. Artcle 75 of the Penal Code; and article 11 of the Decree of August 26, 1811; articles 21 and 22 of the Civil Code.
  10. Article 13, Loi du 3 Decembre 1849, sur les etrangers.
  11. Bulletin des Lois, vol. cixvii, p. 545.
  12. M. Duinangeat, in his note to M. Fœlix’s Droit International Privé, doubts whether “la grande naturalization” still exists, as by the decree of February 2, 1852, all electors are eligible to seats in the Corps Legislatif, and the senate is composed of such citizens as the Emperor may please to select; and he cites Prince Poniatowslu as an instance of a citizen naturalized by imperial decree and promoted to the senate without any special law.