to Mr. Evarts
Berlin , September 27, 1878. (Received October 18, 1878.)
Sir: I have awaited the return of Mr. von Bülow, imperial minister of foreign affairs, before communicating further with the German Government in regard to the principle involved in the decision returned to me by Mr. von Radowitz, and reported to you in my dispatch No. 38. Day before yesterday I had an interview with the minister, not only for ,the purpose of calling his attention to this case, but also with the desire of procuring through his aid a more careful observance of the stipulations of the treaty of 1868 on the part of the local authorities throughout the empire.
From the tenor of my former dispatches, it will be already evident to you that the present disturbed political condition of Germany has greatly increased the number of the cases where the aid of this legation has been necessarily invoked by naturalized Americans of German birth revisiting their former homes; and unfortunately, as I have also endeavored to make clear, the settlement of just claims is often prejudiced by the presentation of others which are wholly unwarrantable. I have not allowed the latter in any manner to interfere with my advocacy of the former, but where, as frequently occurs, both come before the same authorities, it is difficult to secure a strictly judicial and therefore impartial treatment. I first showed Mr. von Bülow the advice contained in my dispatch No. 37 and published by the Department of State, which, based upon the experience of the last four months, I consider necessary, in order to avoid possible causes of trouble or loss, saying to him that it was most desirable that the number of such cases should be diminished rather than that they should increase so rapidly as at present. I asked that he should now contribute his share toward their diminution, informing him that many cases, and some of them flagrant violations of the treaty, did not reach his knowledge, because the first appeal to the legation proved to be efficacious; but that in others the copy of the ministerial decrees of July, 1868, forwarded under my official seal, was disregarded.
The treaty, I further claimed, must of necessity be accepted as a law of the German Empire; it was paramount to all local or separate state laws, and we had the clearest right to ask that the decisions of the magistrate should in every case be in accordance with its provisions.
Mr. von Bülow assented to this in the heartiest and most friendly way, and assured me, as he had before done, that the government had no complaint to make in regard to the terms of the treaty, and would, as a matter of course, act in conformity with it. Referring to my letter to Mr. von Radowitz (inclosure to dispatch No. 38), I stated that the whole question at issue had been referred to your consideration, and that I need not repeat personally the views I had already expressed. I called his attention, however, to the fact that the sudden revival of the passport system, as a part of the stringent policy recently adopted by the imperial government, had been made very annoying to Americans temporarily resident in Berlin, for the nationality of many of whom I had been obliged to make myself personally responsible. I am glad to state, in connection with this matter, that all violence or loss has been in every case happily prevented. The former strictness of the police authorities here is now much relaxed, and I do not anticipate any further difficulty.[Page 233]
The unusual number of cases in which naturalized German American citizens are concerned this summer is partly owing, as I have stated, to the present political situation, and partly to the return of emigrants who went to the United States after the war of 1870–’71. The latter, many of whom were actuated by purely personal and selfish motives, create the greatest trouble, by casting suspicion upon those who have heartily and sincerely become American citizens. When the sons of German families here unblushingly come to the American legation to inquire if exactly five years’ residence in America will secure to them protection as American citizens here during the remainder of their lives, and their children after them, it will easily be understood that naturalization in form is not always equivalent to naturalization in fact. The provision expressed in article 4 of the treaty of 1868 seems to have been intended as a test of such cases, and I shall most strenuously insist on its observance; yet, on the other hand, I shall not allow the high and honorable title of an American citizen to be made a matter of merchandise.
My interview with Mr. von Bülow was wholly friendly in its character. I am satisfied that he coincided with me in a sincere desire for the observance of every stipulation of the treaty, and will take such steps to that end as may be possible in the present rather confused condition of affairs. There are now only five cases pending, and I esteem it as a favorable sign that nothing further has been heard from the later claims for protection, after it has been promised by the legation and the necessary papers forwarded. I will hope that the present summer, in this respect, is exceptional, and that, with an increasing sense of order and security, the unnecessary suspicion, which has been more or less extended to all foreigners, will also cease.
Once more taking the liberty of asking for an expression of an opinion which may confirm or correct my action,
I have, &c.,