No. 138.
Mr. Brulatour to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 382.]

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.

[Page 276]

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. 382.—Translation.]

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 the declaration.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 382.—Translation.]

Mr. Vignaud to Mr. G. W. Verdelet.

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.,

Second Secretary.