No. 459.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Evarts.

No. 161.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith copies of a correspondence between this legation and the consul at Zurich, relative to the passport application of William Dietze, a native of Germany, who has been residing in Zurich under the protection of an American passport for more than twenty years, who has not been in the United States for twenty-four years, where he was naturalized March 19, 1855, and, obtaining a passport two days later, left the United States and has never returned. Inasmuch as Mr. Dietze does not claim ever to have contributed toward the support of the government whose protection he has enjoyed for nearly a quarter of a century, I can but congratulate the latter on his decision to acquire another nationality.

I regret to say that my experience here leads me to believe that at Basle and Zurich, both in the proximity of Germany, there are large numbers of natives of that country whose claims to our nationality are similar to that of Mr. Dietze, and the merits of whose claims are in all probability but little if any better than his.

I invite your attention to my letter to the consul, and hope that the measures I have taken to thwart this attempt at prostitution of our citizenship will meet with your approval.

I have, &c.,

[Page 969]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 161.]

Mr. Fish to Mr. Byers.

Sir: I have received the passport application of William Dietze, under date of March 1, from your office. It is accompanied by the certificate of his naturalization from the court of common pleas for the city and county of New York, of March 19, 1855, and by a passport issued to him by the Secretary of State on the 21st of of March, 1855.

An examination of the latter document shows that it was presented at the legation in London on the 9th of April, 1855, where it was visaed for France, Belgium, Prussia, Austria, and the continent. It bears the visé of the diplomatic or consular agents of each of those countries above named. On the 16th March, 1856, the passport was visaed at Aix-la-Chapelle “for Cologne” by the Prussian authorities. In 1860 the passport was visaed by the consul of the United States at Munich, and by the Bavarian officials. On the same day, October 18, 1860, it was visaed by the Austrian legation in that city. On the 23d April, 1861, it was presented to your predecessor, Mr. Goundie, and received his visé, “seen at this consulate.”

Inclosed with the application is a discharge from Prussian nationality, dated at Dusseldorf, 23d November, 1848.

It appears from applicant’s sworn statement that he resided in the United States from 1849 to 1855; he gives the month of his last leaving America as April, 1856, which is probably an error of memory, as he appears to have been in London as early as the 9th of April 1855, and at Cologne in March, 1856.

In any event, he appears to have left the United States as soon after his naturalization as he could, and in a period of nearly twenty-four years never to have resided there; for twenty years and upwards he has been residing at Zurich, and for nearly eighteen years he has not, from the papers before the legation, in any manner made known to either the consulate at Zurich, or to this legation, the fact that he claimed our protection until the present application, wherein he swears that he is “temporarily residing at Zurich,” and that he “desires the passport for the purpose of stopping longer in Zurich.”

I have no hesitancy in saying, under the circumstances of the present case, coupled with the fact that he has never resided in the United States as a citizen thereof, that the legation declines to regard his residence in Zurich as temporary in its character, nor could it accept it as such in the face of the applicant’s statement of his reason for desiring a passport.

Under these circumstances, I invite your attention to §§ 110, 111, of the Consular Regulations, coupled with the instruction of the Secretary of Slate to Mr. Mac Veagh, of December 13, 1870, in the case of Mathieu Orlich (published in Foreign Relations for 1871, page 887), a copy of which was transmitted to you as In closure No. 1 of my letter of February 26, 1878. If Mr. Dietze can show wherein his case differs from that of Orlich, and advances good reasons why an exception to the rules of the Department of State concerning the issue of passports should be made, I shall be happy to entertain his statement. Until he does so, I cannot, under my instructions, issue a passport to him.

I return herewith his expired passport and certificate of naturalization, together with his discharge from Prussian nationality.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 3 in No. 161.]

Mr. Byers to Mr. Fish.

Sir: I am in receipt of yours of the 3d instant concerning the application of William Dietze, of this city, for a passport.

I explained to him the doubtful character of his citizenship, as set forth in your letter, when he concluded to abandon his application for an American passport, and to buy the rights of Swiss citizenship in this canton.

This case is one of very many in this city of persons who have for years been registered on the books of the police as American citizens, and who have studiously kept all knowledge of their claim to citizenship from the consulate until forced to make them known by some unexpected action of the police.

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Of course, as is well known, they escape by this course all burdens of citizenship that may be due either to Switzerland or to the United States.

I asked Mr. Dietze if he served in our late war. He answered, “No.” “Did you furnish a substitute?” I inquired. “No,” he replied. “Did you contribute money?” “None at all.” “Did you submit to the draft in the State of which you claim to be a citizen?” “Certainly not,” was his prompt answer.

The same sort of answers could truthfully be made by a majority of persons in this city who have been claiming to be American citizens for the last twenty years.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 4 in No. 161.]

Mr. Fish to Mr. Byers.

Sir: Your letter of the 10th instant, in regard to William Dietze’s renunciation of naturalization in the United States, is received.

You state that he intends to buy the rights of Swiss citizenship in the canton of Zurich. I wish you would procure for me a copy of the cantonal laws and regulations under which he is able to make such a purchase.

I will thank you to ascertain whether he actually does procure Swiss nationality. Should he do so, you will please to suggest to him the propriety of surrendering to you the certificate of his naturalization and passport as a citizen of the United States.

Would the cantonal government be willing to furnish a list of such American citizens as have acquired Swiss nationality in Zurich?

I am, &c.,