Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. T. O.
Washington, July 18, 1883.
Sir: Your No. 375, of April 19 last, has been received. You therein revert to the case of Mr. John T. Rowe, and set forth the considerations which lead you to regard the matter as one not fully coming within the purview of the Department’s instruction to you No. 168, of June 19, 1882.
It would seem that you had, to some extent, misunderstood the tenor of No. 168. You say, for instance, that in your interview with the minister of foreign relations, “the principle of expatriation was not called in question, for that principle is acknowledged by this [the Argentine] Government; but it justly claimed that it must be one of good faith.”
If the Argentine Government admits the principle of expatriation, then it cannot consistently hold that the mere return of an Argentine naturalized abroad can operate alone to annul his acquired citizenship and restore him to Argentine allegiance and jurisdiction. Yet that is precisely what is understood to have been claimed in Mr. Rowe’s case; and the purpose of instruction No. 168 was to declare the inability of this Government to recognize any claim that Mr. Rowe had, by his return, [Page 5]resumed his Argentine allegiance, which did not also show that he did so intelligently, and with a knowledge that his act was in effect an abandonment of his new allegiance and a resumption of his old one. Hence the demand, made in that instruction, that if the simple return of Mr. Rowe were to be held to be a formal resumption of Argentine allegiance, he should, after being made aware of that fact, be allowed a reasonable time within which to make option whether to remain as an Argentine citizen or abandon the country and conserve his acquired status as an American citizen.
Your dispatch appears to leave out of sight altogether the question of recognition of Mr. Rowe’s right to expatriate himself and become an American citizen. The argument presented simply casts a doubt (which may or may not be a reasonable one) upon the bona fides of Mr. Rowe’s acquisition of American citizenship. That doubt rests on Mr. Rowe’s return to Buenos Ayres after naturalization abroad, for it does not appear that any charge of fraud in obtaining his American citizenship is brought against him. A tribunal of the United States having adjudicated Mr. Rowe to be an American citizen by a solemn act of record, it does not comport with international dignity for this Government, through you, to submit to an Argentine tribunal the decision whether he became an alien by the act of being naturalized in the United States.
In either case, whether the claim be that Mr. Rowe’s mere return to Argentine jurisdiction operated as a renunciation of his acquired status and a resumption of his former allegiance, or whether it be that he did not in good faith become a citizen of the United States, this Government cannot join in submitting the decision of the point to the Argentine court. The Department’s instruction No. 168 should therefore stand.
* * * you should, however, take an occasion of making it clear to the minister of foreign affairs that we do not acquiesce in any decision which may assume resumption of Argentine allegiance by an Argentine naturalized in the United States, unless by some act intelligently performed by him to that end; or, by some other act manifestly inconsistent with his acquired allegiance, he either resume his old condition or forfeit his right to protection under his new status.
I am, &c.,