No. 271.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Nicholas Fish.

No. 697.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge your dispatch No. 3 of the date of the 11th of July last, transmitting the correspondence between Mr. Bancroft and the minister of foreign affairs in relation to the interpretation and application of the fourth article of the naturalization treaty of February 22, 1868, between the United States and the North German Union.

Mr. Bancroft’s note of 28th June to Mr. von Bülow correctly sets forth the interpretation of that article of the treaty as understood by this Government, and it is with much satisfaction that the President learns that that interpretation is not controverted by the German government, which declares its intention to execute the treaty at all times with the greatest moderation and respect for the rights of individuals.

The point suggested by Mr. von Bülow that the treatment of each case must depend entirely upon the circumstances of the same, is in accord with the position which this Government holds. The value of American citizenship must not be trifled with; this high right must not be invaded by fraud or by false representations; and when honestly acquired, and faithfully maintained, must carry with it to its possessor all the privileges and the protection which a great government can give to its citizens.

The case of Mentheim Cohn seems to be disposed of without admitting the inference drawn by Mr. von Bülow. From his recital of the facts of the case, it cannot be denied that that inference is, at the least, plausible.

The legation will in the future continue carefully to watch the rights of all naturalized citizens of the United States who may visit or temporarily tarry in Germany, and will assert for them all the privileges and immunities to which they are entitled by treaty or by public law. At the same time it will be careful not to commit the Government of the United States in a demand for its protection in behalf of one who may be manifestly presenting a false or fraudulent claim of citizenship, or who may have already forfeited his right of citizenship in accordance with the letter and spirit of the treaty.

I am, &c.,