Mr. Hoffman to Mr. Evarts.
St. Petersburg, April 14, 1879.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 44, in reference to the claim of Mr. John Calvocoressi, an American [Page 914] citizen residing at San Stephano, against the Russian Government, for injury done to his house and furniture during its occupation by Russian officers. I have forwarded Mr. Calvoeoressi’s petition to Mr. de Giers, and have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of my note.
You will observe that I have confined myself to stating the circumstances and asking for compensation, without submitting any arguments in support of the claim as of right If it is your intention to press it as of right (and you refer me to your No. 42 for instructions, case of the Rev. Mr. Cole), I am compelled to ask for further instructions.
It appears that an American citizen residing in Turkey suffers injury from the Russians, then at war with Turkey. The treaty of 1832 applies exclusively to Americans residing on Russian territory. I am unable, therefore, to bring this case within the purview of the treaty.
On the other hand, I find it laid down in the books that the property of a foreigner residing and doing business on a belligerent’s territory, is, so far as the other belligerent is concerned, hostile property, and may be treated like that of a native. He pays taxes, may be called upon for military service, and contributes in various ways to the strength of the country of his residence.
Baptiste Guillem was a French cook, residing in Mexico at the commencement of our war with that country. He left it immediately on the breaking out of the war, on his return to France, and was captured by our fleet with his property. In the opinion delivered by Mr. Justice Taney (United States vs. Guillem, 8 Howard), he says:
The hostile character which his domicile in Mexico had imposed upon him and his property had therefore been thrown off, and as soon as he sailed from Vera Cruz he recovered the character of a French citizen, and as such was entitled to the rights and privileges of a neutral in regard to his property, as well as in his person.
Had he not left Mexico, therefore, his property would have remained hostile property, and he would not have been entitled to the rights and privileges of a neutral.
Mr. Dutilth, an American citizen, resided in Holland in 1794, when Great Britain was at war with Holland. His property was captured, part of it before he went to Holland, and part during his residence there. The former was restored to him; the latter was condemned, upon the ground that while he was a neutral resident of Holland his property was hostile property (the Hannibal and Pomona, Lords, 180 a), and the same principle was laid down by Mr. Justice Washington in the case of the Venus (8 Cranch).
If I am not mistaken, too, in the United States we have always refused to admit the claims of foreigners domiciled in the Southern States during our war for damage to their property. An exception was made in favor of British subjects, but this exception was specially secured to them by the treaty of Washington, and we were supposed to have received an equivalent for it. In France damage done to property in Paris during the commune was paid for but this I take to have been upon the principle that the municipality is liable for the acts of a mob and for injuries committed by the authorities in putting down the mob.
I became aware, during my residence in Paris, of many instances in which American property in France was occupied and injured by the Germans during the French-German war. I have in my mind particularly the case of Mr. Charles Moulton, whose property at Pahtval was occupied during the siege and much damaged. Mr. Moulton submitted a claim at Berlin, and, although I cannot speak with certainty, I am confident that neither this nor any similar claim has ever been allowed. If there have been exceptions, they have been made in cases of special [Page 915] hardship, and an appeal to the benevolence rather than to the justice of the Emperor.
As you may readily suppose, many claims of this kind have been submitted here by Great Britain, and especially by Italy. I am informed that they are submitted as cases of special hardship, and rather as requests than as claims; and I am further informed that not one of them has been paid, or is likely to be.
It may be that a residence in Turkey is not to be treated like a residence in the United States or in Western Europe. I have seen it laid down in an old English case, that a resident in Turkey remains a foreigner in the strictest sense of that term. That he does not mix with the people, become incorporated with them, or in any way identified with their interests, but remains a foreigner as much as he would be if confined to a factory in China, and so acquires in no respect the character of a Turkish subject.
This distinction may have existed at the time of the decision I refer to, seventy or eighty years ago, but I think it would be difficult to maintain it now.
However this may be, as at present informed, I see no other ground on which to press Mr. Calvorcoressi’s claim as a matter of right, and I have therefore the honor to request that if you intend it to be so pressed you will point out to me the grounds on which I am to urge it, that I may lay them before the Russian Government at the proper time.
I have, &c.,