Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 5, 1881
to Mr. Evarts.
Vienna, January 22, 1881. (Received February 5.)
Sir: Referring to legation numbers 392 and 400, and as bearing upon the general question of the rights of naturalized citizens who have resumed their residence in Europe, I beg to submit to the Department the correspondence between this legation and the consulate at Pest, copies of which are appended hereto.
I suppose the Hungarian law in question to be aimed at other and more numerous classes of their population than the American citizens who happen to reside there. Still, it is probable the question may soon be raised touching one who bears American papers, when, of course, the question can be more considerately discussed.
I have, &c.,
Mr. Sterne to Mr. Delaplaine.
Budapest, December 12, 1880.
Dear Sir: I do not like to trouble you with frivolous questions and have therefore tried to avoid doing so in the present case, but my questioner insists on my obtaining your opinion upon his case, and I therefore herewith submit the same to you.
Mr. Adolph Klein, born here, but a citizen of the United States since 1863, returned to this city in 1865 and resided here again until 1874; from 1875 to 1878 resided again in Germany and America, but since then in Germany and Austria-Hungary, and now during the last nine months again as a fixed resident here in Budapest, but wishes to continue his United States citizenship. Klein wants to know whether he can be included among those by the Hungarian authorities, who, on account of a residence in this state of five years, should make a declaration, as per section 48 of the new Hungarian law relating to such foreign citizens and on which subject I have already written to you.
Though in my private opinion this new Hungarian law will not hold good, because it is not based upon mutuality and should be also approved of by the United States Government, yet I fear it will be the cause of a good deal of trouble to our citizens [Page 35] here and through them to us, from whom they will claim protection; and have published that card calling our citizens’ attention to their case, but no doubt it will not reach all those interested, and since the officials here seem to be very fond of acting quite arbitrarily, some of our citizens will have trouble. I should therefore be glad to soon receive definite instructions from the Department concerning my duties in the new case.
Thus far I have pursued the following course: I issue to those United States citizens who require it a declaration like the inclosed copy, and hope my doing so does not conflict with my duties or privileges. Before I give my declaration the respective citizen of course has to satisfy me that he is a United States citizen, and for this purpose I accept only of a regular passport.
Please tell me whether naturalization papers alone would be sufficient evidence of citizenship in such cases; also whether the date of a passport will affect its validity, most passports being older than two years.
Since I have troubled you so much this time, I further beg to include another question upon a subject frequently submitted to me, but upon which my mind is not quite clear. It is as follows: Can a former Hungarian citizen, but now a United States citizen, be placed in the army upon his return here, if he emigrated after having been already notified to appear for “assentierung” (which means to present himself for physical inspection about his fitness to become a soldier), but who not being then found fit to serve is temporarily placed on the list for the following year, but in the mean time emigrated. I think such American citizen can upon his return be taken into the army, but I would thank you for your opinion and decision upon the subject. However, I may be wrong, because such men are not required to take the oath to the flag (farneueid) until they are physically found fit to serve.
I hope you will please excuse me for all this trouble to you, and remain, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
United States Consul.
Hon. J. F. Delaplaine,
United States Secretary of Legation, Vienna.
The undersigned, American consulate in Budapest, hereby certifies that the American citizen Mr. ——, belonging to New York, United States of America, and since 18— residing in Budapest, together with his family, consisting of his wife and —— children, has in the undersigned consulate given the express declaration that he does not desire to renounce his American citizenship, but to retain it also for the future. He has been received into the list of American citizens, as such will be held in evidence, and so as well now as henceforth, is to be regarded exclusively as American citizen.
The American consulate.
Mr. Kasson to Mr. Sterne.
December 15, 1880.
Sir: In answer to the inquiries of your note of the 12th instant, I have to say:
- The law of Hungary, it is well understood, cannot change the provisions of our treaty of September 20, 1870. Our naturalized citizens have on their return to Austria-Hungary all the rights guaranteed by the first and fourth articles of that treaty. The latter article shows that one can only become a citizen “of his own accord,” and cannot be “constrained to resume his former citizenship.” The law in question, if applied to former Austro-Hungarian subjects naturalized in the United States, and not “of their own accord” accepting the new citizenship, it seems clear, would be a constraint in violation of the treaty. My opinion is based upon the translation of the law published over the signature of the British consul-general. This law states that the residence is to be for “at feast five consecutive years” within the state of Hungary; and the name must also have “been entered in the register of tax-payers” in some parish. The fair construction of the law would be for the five consecutive years next preceding the time when they claim to apply the law to a foreign citizen.
- But the construction which the Hungarian courts will give to it cannot, of course, be foreseen by this legation. If he was not between 1865 and 1874 “entered in the register of tax-payers,” it would seem that Klein could not be affected till the lapse of five years from 1878, if at all.
- I see no objection to your delivering to each American citizen a certificate of the purport of that of which you transmit a copy in your letter of the 12th instant.
- Touching the evidence of citizenship upon which you would feel justified in acting, I have only to say that there are two classes of persons claiming to be citizens who have from time to time presented themselves to this legation. The one class is composed of either native or naturalized citizens who have had homes and business in America, and who evidently regard that country as their real home, and its government as the one to which their allegiance is due. For them a passport of whatever date or a final naturalization certificate (their identity being shown) would be enough to justify your proposed certificate. The other class is composed of those who appear only to have lived long enough in the United States to obtain their papers, and then returned to their original country, and there resided without the intention of returning to the United States to live. This class of ten is composed of people who have only obtained papers by which they hope to escape the obligations of allegiance to the country of their birth without assuming any toward the country in which they were naturalized, Our laws are not intended to aid such persons in their objects; and this legation has refused, in clear cases, to recognize them as lawful citizens of the United States. The only occasion when they actually claim to be such is when they seek to escape some duty of a subject, or demand charitable relief. It must be left to your good judgment to make the proper distinction.
- If the emigration of a man from whom military service is claimed occurred before he was “drafted at the time of conscription” (see article 2, convention with Austria of September 20, 1870), he cannot afterward be held to military punishment for such emigration, nor is he liable to army service while remaining bona fide an American citizen. The case you give does not appear to be such a case of drafting.
Henry Sterne, Esq.,
United States Consul, Budapest