Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Comly.
Washington, July 1, 1882.
Sir: Your dispatch of the 5th ultimo relative to the case of Mr. Peter Cushman Jones, an American citizen resident in Honolulu, has been received.
Mr. Jones, as it appears from his letter to you of the 26th of May, a copy of which you inclose, was born in Boston, Mass., in 1837, and in 1857 took up his residence in the Hawaiian Kingdom, entering into mercantile pursuits there as a domiciled American citizen. Becoming the owner of a merchant vessel there under the Hawaiian flag, it became necessary for him, in order to the maintenance of his rights in that kingdom, to take an oath of allegiance to the sovereign of the islands. The form of the oath is set out in Mr. Jones’s letter, thus:
The undersigned, a native of the United States of America, being duly sworn, upon his oath declares that he will support the constitution and laws of the Hawaiian Islands and bear true allegiance to His Majesty, Kamehameha IV.
Your inquiry is as to what effect this proceeding may have upon the status of Mr. Jones’s American citizenship.
In becoming a citizen of the United States the law requires that an alien shall not only swear to support the Constitution and laws of this country, but also to renounce all other allegiance and especially that of the country of which he may be then a subject or citizen. In the oath taken by Mr. Jones there is no such express renunciation of his American citizenship, nor do the circumstances manifest any intention on his part to expatriate himself.
It may, however, at some future time, become a question for judicial investigation in his case.
The doctrine of the executive branch of the government on this subject is thus expressed by the Attorney-General—
To constitute expatriation there must be an actual removal followed by foreign residence, accompanied by authentic renunciation of pre-existing citizenship. (8 Opinions, 139).
and this view finds support in some judicial decisions. (Juando vs. Taylor, 2 Paine, 652.)
In the absence of a direct judicial determination of the question I do not feel disposed to deny to Mr. Jones any right or privilege pertaining to his character of American citizenship, and therefore while the Department will not undertake to express any authoritative opinion on the effect which his course in Hawaii may ultimately have on his status in that regard, you are authorized to extend to him such protection as may be properly due to a citizen of the United States residing in and having acquired a commercial domicile in a foreign state. This protection must, of course, be limited and qualified by the liabilities and obligations incident to such commercial domicile.
I am, &c.,