No. 1.
Mr. T. O. Osborn to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 375.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch numbered 168 (see Foreign Relations, 1882), in relation to the case of Mr. John T. Rowe, an Argentine citizen by birth, who was naturalized, and arrested for military duty after his return and residence for many years in this Republic.

With regard to this case, I beg to submit that its nature called for immediate action on my part, and therefore debarred me from seeking for instructions, with relation to it, from the Department of State.

In my action, two paramount considerations had to be conciliated, the release of Mr. Rowe from arrest at his own and his family’s importunate desire, and the protection of his rights as a naturalized American citizen, on prima facie evidence, without, if possible, disturbing the harmonious relations of the two Governments.

In my interview with the minister of foreign relations, the principle of expatriation was not called in question, for that principle is acknowledged by this Government, but it justly claimed that it must be one of good faith.

In this view of the question I had of necessity to acquiesce, whilst its application to the case under consideration was fraught with doubt and apprehension.

The facts as already stated in my dispatch numbered 350, appeared to be that Mr. Rowe visited the United States twice; first to get an education, and then to get a wife; and having remained there on each occasion for such time as was necessary to compass the purpose he had in view, returned to and permanently settled in the country of his birth, the home of his parents, friends, and the location of his and their interests and property. The only plea put forward, in order to cover the obvious inference to be drawn from such a proceeding, was the necessity of a warmer climate for the preservation of perfect health, yet Mr. Rowe could not have been ignorant of the fact, known to everybody, viz, that the United States, his newly adopted country, could furnish him with every climate his constitution might require, from extreme cold to extreme heat.

The impression on my mind, at the time I was called on tor immediate action, could not under the circumstances be very favorable to Mr. Rowe, who appeared to me to have circumscribed his allegiance to the [Page 2]United States to the simple assumption of citizenship, and then to have decamped, with the unmistakable object of evading duties he owed either to the country of his adoption, or to the country of his birth. Yet, withal, I felt that my impressions might possibly be erroneous, and that in the dire emergency in which he had unexpectedly been placed his appeal to me could not be entirely ignored.

Under these circumstances, the course of an appeal from the provincial to the national tribunals appeared to me acceptable, as by this means the case could be brought within the minister’s and my immediate cognizance, whilst Mr. Rowe’s rights would not in any event be prejudiced by the decision the court might arrive at, and it was so understood by the minister and myself, at the time of the interview.

I have now to state that later investigations, based on Mr. Rowe’s personal statement, and such other circumstances as have come within my cognizance, fully carry out my first impressions.

It was my opinion that the present case bears a clear relation to those particularized in the United States Consular Regulations, Art. XI, sec. 170, and that it would be impolitic to put it forward as a test case in so important a question as the one of Argentine jurisdiction, on the rights inherent to citizenship acquired in the United States by those born in this Republic.

* * * It is not unlikely that with increased inter-communication some fresh and bona fide case may enable this important matter to be clearly denned to the mutual satisfaction of both countries.

I indulge in the hope that the fuller data furnished in this dispatch may dispel any impression as to my having acted hastily and without due reflection in so momentous a question. It had, as have all matters which come before me, my most serious attention and honest action for the protection of American interests, whilst endeavoring to maintain uninterrupted the amicable relations now existing between the two Republics.

Under such circumstances, I think I am justified in respectfully requesting the Department of State to again review the case by the new light my explanations may throw on it, and either give me such fresh instructions as may be considered advisable .or to confirm those transmitted to me in the dispatch which I now have the honor to acknowledge.

I have, &c.,