Mr. Brulatour to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
the United States,
Paris, August 1, 1883.
(Received August 15.)
Sir: I have the honor to submit to your
consideration a request made by Mr. Eugene Albert Verdelet, a native of
France, who claims to be an American citizen. The circumstances of the case
are as follows:
Mr. Verdelet was born in 1862 at Bordeaux, France, where he has always
resided with his family. His father, a Frenchman by birth, resided in the
United States some thirty-five years; was married there, and became in 1853
an American citizen; some years later, in 1859, he returned to France, and
lived there until his death, which occurred in 1874.
Now, according to the French law of December 16, 1874, a translation of which
I inclose, any one born in France, from a foreigner who himself was born in
France, is French, unless he claims his foreign nationality in the year he
becomes of age, and produces a written certificate or attestation from his
Government that he has maintained his original nationality.
Mr. Verdelet, who has taken the oath of allegiance before the American consul
at Bordeaux, asks to be furnished with this certificate or attestation. He
states that he has never been in America, but that he has property interests
in the States which will sooner or later call him there. If the certificate
required of him is not produced before March, 1884, he will be considered as
French, and liable to military service.
This is not the first time that this request is brought before the legation.
In 1880, Mr. George W. Verdelet applied to General Noyes to obtain that the
certificate of citizenship above mentioned be issued to his two brothers,
John Henry Verdelet and Eugene Albert Verdelet, the present applicant. The
matter was referred by General Noyes to Mr. Vignaud, who informed Mr. G. W.
Verdelet that, for reasons which he stated in a letter, copy and translation
of which are also herewith inclosed, his request could not be granted, but
that it would be submitted to the State Department if he so desired.
Mr. G. W. Verdelet did not then avail himself of this offer, but he now
accepts it in behalf of his brother Eugene, who called in person at the
legation, where he stated his case, and furnished satisfactory evidence of
the facts above stated.
With reference to this subject, I beg leave to mention a dispatch from Mr.
Evarts to Mr. Hitt, dated February 13, 1880 (No. 209), concerning the case
of John Letorey, which is somewhat similar to the present one.
I have, &c.,
[Inclosure 1 in No.
French law of December 16, 1874.
Article I. Article I of the law of February 7,
1859, is amended as follows:
Any individual born in France of a foreigner, who himself was born there,
is French, unless, in the year following the time of his majority, as
fixed by French rule, he claims his foreign nationality by a declaration
made either before the municipal authorities of the place of his birth
or before the diplomatic or consular agent of France abroad, and
establishes that he has maintained his original nationality, by an
attestation in due form, of his Government, which will remain affixed to
[Inclosure 2 in No.
Mr. Vignaud to Mr.
G. W. Verdelet.
Legation of the United States,
Paris, April 13,
Sir: The minister has received your letter of
the 8th instant, and charges me to reply to you.
This letter and the one of the 17th of February, which you have addressed
to this legation on the same subject, establish the following facts:
Your two brothers, John Henry Verdelet and Eugene Albert Verdelet, were
born in France from a father, now deceased, who was himself born in
France, but who had acquired American citizenship in the United States,
where he resided thirty-five years. Your two brothers are living in
France, where it is likely they have always resided. Your letters do not
state if they have resided in the United States, nor if it is their
intention to live there in future.
The French law of December 16, 1874, considers as a French subject any
individual Born in France from a foreigner who himself was born there,
unless, in the year following his majority, he claims to be a foreigner,
and establishes that he has maintained his original nationality, by
producing an attestation, in due form, of his Government. You ask that
your two brothers be furnished with such attestation, that is to say,
with a certificate of American citizenship which will exempt them from
military service in France.
The Government of the United States, which easily grants American
citizenship to foreigners, recognizes with no less facility to Americans
themselves the right of renouncing their nationality; but it does not
admit that one can have at the same time two nationalities, so as to
avail himself alternately of the advantages or of the honors adherent to
each, without participating in the burdens and duties of either.
For this reason, and for others which you can easily imagine—the one, for
instance, that it is proper to avoid as much as possible causes of
conflict between friendly powers—the Government of the United States has
found it advisable to prescribe to its diplomatic agents abroad to
abstain themselves, when those who claim their intervention are
established in a foreign country without any intention of returning to
the United States, such establishment reasonably implying a renunciation
of American citizenship.
In the case of your brothers, their American citizenship could not be
denied to them in the United States, because it is recognized by law
(Revised Statutes, section 1993), and because their residence within the
limits of the jurisdiction of the United States would be a satisfactory
evidence that they hold to their original nationality and that they are
not merely Americans by right or in theory, but also Americans in fact.
The settlement of your brothers and yourself in the country where your
father was born, and where they were born themselves, being apparently
definitive, the minister [Page 277] finds
himself compelled to refuse the certificate of citizenship they apply
for. If, however, they desire it, the minister will suhmit their case to
the superior decision of the Secretary of State.
I have, &c.,