No. 82.
Mr. Logan to Mr. Evarts.

No. 22.]

Sir: In a former dispatch I have incidentally remarked upon the fact of a large number of people floating through the Spanish-American Republics, claiming the protection of the American flag, a majority of whom, perhaps, are not entitled to the protection they demand. Some experience has prompted me to classify these people as follows:

1st. Bona fide native American citizens, who have left their country at an early period in life, who have engaged in permanent business in their adopted country, who may have married in the latter, who may have acquired property, and who by the circumstance of long residence in a foreign country, a participation in its internal affairs, social and political, and a non-expectation of ever returning to their native country, should fairly be considered, as I believe, to have expatriated themselves.

The English rule, of course, claims the allegiance of native subjects to be unchangeable and perpetual, and that the subject has no power to expatriate himself. But why should a person who practically has renounced all duty and allegiance to his country, who contributes nothing to its support in peace or war, and who escapes the obligations of all nationalities, become a charge upon his country, often involving it in expense, and sometimes in international difficulties?

The United States has strongly announced the right of voluntary expatriation upon the part of the subject or citizen. Why should it not go further, and declare the conditions under which involuntary or enforced expatriation shall occur.

2d. Naturalized citizens. These may be subdivided into several classes, according as their citizenship is bona fide or not, and legitimately or illegitimately obtained, &c.

3d. Downright impostors, whose native tongue is probably English, though they may never have put foot in the United States.

* * * * * * *

Of those, however, most frequently claiming the aid of our ministers, the class claiming citizenship by naturalization stands foremost. Large numbers of English-speaking people are found in the countries referred to, asserting themselves to be citizens by naturalization. Some of these have papers, but whether legitimately or illegitimately obtained, it is often impossible to determine; while those having none present the most varied stories of having lost them by fire, theft, shipwreck, &c. Many if not all these people, after having tried their fortunes in the United States, have left that country forever, but still retain their American citizenship for reasons of personal expediency. They escape all national obligations, and in cases of difficulty receive the protection of a powerful government. Often they shift their nationality to meet the most favoring circumstances.

In this particular connection, I desire to draw your attention to the case of one Anton Joseph Maassen, which may be briefly related as follows:

Maassen came to Guatemala about two years since, representing himself as a German subject, and mixing in the German society of the country. On the 30th of October, 1877, he went before the German consul [Page 144] in Guatemala with certificates of service in the German army, and other documents going to prove his nationality; and convincing the consul of his right to be registered on the books of the consulate as a German subject, he was so registered, as will appear from the certificate of Mr. E. Lehnhoff, consul of the German Empire, inclosed under cover of this dispatch and marked No. 1.

Maassen finally settled near Izabal, and reports soon came to his German friends of his ill-treatment of his family. The “Jefe Politico” of his district at length wrote a private letter to Baron von Bergen, the German minister in Guatemala, telling him that unless Maassen’s children were cared for by a proper person they would go to ruin.

Upon Maassen’s own assurance that he was a German subject, the minister at once took measures to provide the children with suitable homes, the wife having previously left the husband by reason of ill-treatment. Maassen resisted the well-meant acts of his minister and declared himself an American citizen, adducing as evidence of the fact the document also inclosed herewith, marked No. 2. The German minister immediately ceased all interest in the matter of Maassen’s family affairs, when the latter made a charge against the minister for damages caused by his interference. This charge was presented to Mr. T. J. Potts, United States consular agent at Isabal, who forwarded it to Mr. Medina, the consul at this place, and by whom it was referred to me for action.

The case of this man justly represents that of many others in these countries. He went to the United States from his native land to better his fortunes; staid there long enough to be naturalized; left the country with no intention of ever returning to it, and is now here, claiming the intervention of a government which receives no benefit from his citizenship, and which can have no earthly interest in him. The naturalization certificate which he presents may be entirely fraudulent for aught an official in this country can know to the contrary. It purports to be a copy of the original record of his naturalization act; but you will observe that the whole blank has been filled by the same hand, including the signature of Maassen. Now, what evidence does this paper furnish an official at this distance, where Maassen’s signature upon the court records cannot be compared with his proper signature, as attached to the accompanying document, No. 3, for instance, so that a judgment may be formed as to whether he is or is not the veritable person naturalized by the court of Fresno County? Manifestly, it furnishes no evidence of a fact most important to be known.

Assuming him to be the person naturalized by the act referred to, the point I desire to illustrate is presented in its strongest light. In about three and a half years from the time of naturalization we find the man in another country, declaring his allegiance to the German Empire, which he had previously sworn to renounce; and in two years from the latter act, again claiming his United States citizenship as a protection against the representative of his native land. I shall be glad to receive any instructions you may have to give as to this particular case.

I have long been impressed with the idea of a necessity for action by our government in two directions relating to our foreign affairs:

A declaration of the conditions under which citizens of the United States, native and naturalized, shall be deemed to have expatriated themselves; and,
More substantial evidences, in foreign lands, of the possession of American citizenship.

While there may be serious inconveniences and objections to a passport system, it seems to me, that until something better could be devised [Page 145] every citizen of the United States, before leaving the country, should be compelled by law to obtain a passport, to be given with or without fee, and failing to obtain one, to forfeit his unquestionable right of recognition by the foreign representatives of his country. The facts of his possession and presentation of a genuine passport should be registered in the various consulates of the United States located in the countries he may visit, with the purpose of furnishing proof of his citizenship in case of loss of the document and until such time as it could be duplicated. This passport should be renewable at prescribed periods while the bona fide character of the person’s citizenship continued.

Frauds might be expected, but not more, if so many, as are now practiced in connection with naturalization papers. Other objections could be urged against such a system, many of which time and experience would doubtless remove; but, as the result of some observation in the matter, I would present to our government the expediency of adopting such a measure, among the advantages of which may be enumerated the following:

The bona fide citizen would possess a document clearly defining his nationality, and one which would go far towards protecting him in foreign lands, even in the absence of his country’s representatives.
The questionable and disreputable people residing abroad claiming privileges and exemptions which the natives do not enjoy, and who are continually rushing to the minister for intervention in their private business affairs, sometimes embroiling the government in difficulty, and perhaps, through misrepresentation and falsehood, placing it in a wrong position, would receive a wholesome check.
Some degree of restraint upon fugitives from justice might be expected through a well-devised passport system.
The government would have a supervision over a class of native citizens not now possessed, who by long continued residence abroad, and by becoming identified with the countries in which they live, should by every consideration relating to the mutual obligations between state and citizen, be deemed to have expatriated themselves.
This supervision would reach to the very large class of naturalized citizens, who, residing but a few years in the United States, have left that country, making no concealment of a purpose never to return for residence; thereby constituting a class of persons who have never become identified in spirit and feeling with the ideas our government represents, who have contributed little or nothing to its welfare, who lend nothing to its support, and who, beyond all reach of its influence and authority, use it in a foreign land as a personal protection to themselves and their interests.

In the countries to which I am now accredited, there is an unusual number of persons of questionable nationality; and while I shall endeavor to afford every protection within my power to genuine citizens of the United States, native or naturalized, I shall, unless otherwise instructed, draw the lines as sharply as possible, requiring in every case of doubt, conclusive evidence of a person’s right to receive protection from our government, before extending it to him.

I have, &c.,

[Page 146]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 22.]

I hereby certify that Anton Joseph Maassen voluntarily appeared at this Imperial German Consulate with the necessary proofs on the thirtieth day of October, eighteen hundred and seventy-seven and registered himself as a German subject.

[seal of consulate.]
Consul of the German Empire.

Journal, No. 541.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 22.]

[Expositor Print, Fresno.

certificate of citizenship.


In the county court of Fresno County, of the State of California.

  • Present, Hon. Gillum Baley, judge.

In the matter of the application of Anton Joseph Maassen, an alien, to become a citizen of the United States of America.

In open court, March term, A. D. 1874, this 2d day of March, A. D. 1874, as yet of said term.

It appearing to the satisfaction of this court, by the oaths of Charley Blackburn and J. S. French, citizens of the United States of America, witnesses for that purpose, first duly sworn and examined, that Anton Joseph Maassen, a native of the Kingdom of Prussia, has resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United State five years at least last past, and within the State of California for one year at least last past; and that, during all of said time, he has behaved as a man of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the same; and it also appearing to the court by competent evidence that the said applicant has heretofore, and more than two years since, and in due form of law, declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States; and having now here, before this court, taken an oath that he will support the Constitution of the United States of America; and that he doth absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty whatever, and particularly to the King of Prussia.

It is therefore ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the said Anton Joseph Maassen be, and he is hereby, admitted and declared to be a citizen of the United States of America.



Office of the clerk of the county court, county of Fresno, State of California, ss:

I, A. M. Clark, clerk of the county court, Fresno County, State of California, said court being a court of record, having common-law jurisdiction and a clerk and seal, do certify that the above is a true copy of the act of naturalization of Anton Joseph Maassen, as the same appears upon the records of said court now in my office in Fresno, in said county.

[county seal of fresno.]
  • A. M. CLARK, Clerk.
    Deputy Clerk.