to Mr. Kasson
Washington , March 31, 1881.
Sir: Your dispatch of the 24th of December last, (No. 400), in relation to questions arising in regard to naturalization and citizenship before your legation, has been received.
You report three cases which you have recently been called upon to deal with, and in regard to each of which you submit your action to the judgment of the Department.
The cases are stated by you with such admirable clearness that the department finds no difficulty in reaching a conclusion in respect to each and all of them; and it affords me satisfaction to be able to add that your disposition of the questions involved, accords so entirely with the views entertained by it on these questions that it only becomes necessary to approve your proceeding. That approval is unqualified. As these several rulings may, however, serve as a valuable precedent to the legation in similar questions that may arise in the future, I deem it not out of place to notice them separately and with particularity.
The first is that of Gustav Schwetzer, a native of Austria, who came to the United States in 1851, became a citizen of this republic by naturalization in 1856, returned to Europe in 1859, bearing a passport from this department, has ever since resided in Austria, has no intention to return to the United States, has since his return to Austria married there and has three children, all born in that country. In this case you properly refused to issue a passport to Mr. Schwetzer. Within the spirit of the naturalization treaty of September, 1870, between, the United States and Austria-Hungary, no less than according to the recognized general principles of public and municipal law governing expatriation, Mr. Schwetzer has in the clearest manner renounced his American citizenship. Whether or not he has in any formal manner resumed his Austrian or native allegiance is a question wholly between him and that government, and one in regard to which this government is not called upon to concern itself. In this connection your attention is directed to the answer of my predecessor, Mr. Fish, to the questions submitted by the President for the opinion of the officers of his cabinet in August, 1873, which you will find in the “Foreign Relations” of 1873, part I.
The second case is that of Anton Wurglets, a Hungarian who came to the United States in 1851, was naturalized in 1856, returned to Europe after 1867, and since 1869 has lived as a farmer in Hungary. It further appears that he had children born in the United States, who desire to return to their native land; and that his son Attila, now nineteen years old, intends to come to the United States very soon. In this case you directed the desired passport to issue, regarding, as you say, the United States citizenship of the family as continuing. I concur entirely in the conclusion thus reached by you. Were there even some room for doubt on the question, and there appears to be little or none here, in a matter of so much importance to the individuals every legal intendment should be resolved in favor of the citizenship.
The remaining case is that of Henry Huber and family and Frederick Huber and family, the facts in regard to which you thus give: The father was born in Switzerland in 1823, married there in 1846, and had five children born in that country. He came to the United States [Page 53] with his family in 1854; was naturalized in 1859, and returned with his family to Europe in 1860. One daughter was born in the United States in 1858. His oldest son, Heinrich, returned to this country in 1864, and still resides here; and his son Frederick married an Austrian subject in Austria in 1876, and has one child born there. The son Frederick “intends,” in course of time; “to return to America.” The father’s “return is not distant.” In this case, also, you decided to grant the passports, although it is evident that you did not consider the case entirely clear or free from difficulty. Here, also, I think you were right in resolving the doubts in favor of the citizenship. This, at least, is deemed to be the safest and best course for the executive branch of the government concerning questions partaking so much of a judicial character, and in which rights of property, as well as personal rights, may at some future time be involved. This department has always held the provisions of sections 2172 Revised Statutes as applicable to such children as were actually residing in the United States at the time of their father’s naturalization, and to minor children who came to the United States during their minority and while the parents were residing here in the character of citizens. This view appears to be in consonance with the traditional policy of the government on the subject of citizenship.
Your interpretation of section 2167 of the Revised Statutes is believed to be the true one. The provisions of that section have reference to persons who come to the United States before attaining the age of eighteen years without any necessarily legal relation to the political status of the parents.
I am, &c.,