No. 136.
Mr. Kasson to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 74.]

Sir: Among the many legal questions arising under our naturalization laws ‘and treaty upon Which I am required to give opinions at this legation there is one case that of Augustus Reichard, which had previously been submitted to the Department of State. Its reply,(March 19, 1884), as he claimed, still left him in doubt touching his rights, and now he appeals to this legation.

After an examination of the text of the German law of naturalization, I sent him a reply as full and explicit as possible. I should be glad to know that the opinion of his rights and liabilities, and those of his family, under the treaty of 1868, as expressed in my reply to his letter, is concurred in by the Department.

Copies of his letter and of my answer are herewith inclosed.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 74.]

Mr. Reichard to Mr. Kasson.

Sir: As a citizen of the United States, I take the liberty to transmit under cover a letter to the minister of foreign affairs of the Kingdom of Prussia, Berlin, and respectfully to request that the same be forwarded through your kind offices, as in this way said communication will naturally receive a more attentive consideration.

[Page 211]

The object of my addressing the Prussian ministry is to ascertain whether the authorities here might possibly look upon my prolonged stay in Germany, on account of ill health, as being in conflict with the Bancroft treaty of 22d February, 1868, so far as my claims to the preservation of my prerogatives as an American citizen are concerned. In said letter I state that I was born in 1820, in the then Kingdom of Hanover, now a Prussian province; that I fulfilled my military obligations in 1840, emigrated to New Orleans in 1844, made my declaration to become an American citizen on 21th January, 1850, and received the certificate of my American citizenship on 4th November, 1853, which certificate is now in my possession. I further state that in 1881 my health became so deplorable that my physicians declared that the only means of saving my life were a radical change of climate, free from the excessive heat of American summers, and a prolonged, use of the mineral waters of Germany. Consequently I settled here in Dresden in the summer of 1881; returned to New Orleans last winter for six months, partly to attend to my business there, partly to ascertain whether my somewhat improved health would withstand the climate. This, as soon as the heat recommenced, was by no means the case, and my physicians declared most emphatically that I must stay away fox several years more. In obtaining my new passport at Washington my attention for the first time was called to the details of the Bancroft treaty, by our Louisiana Senators, Hon. B. F. Jonas and General Randall be Gibson, who advised me to be very careful not to omit anything which might be necessary to avoid being mixed up with the stipulations of Article IV of said treaty, Under these circumstances I thought it advisable to address the Hon. Frederick T. Frelinghuysen and to request to be enlightened on, the following three points, viz:

On my return to Germany I intend to place on record, with the United States legation at Berlin my, declaration that although the state of my health may necessitate a stay in Germany for more than two years, it is my intention to preserve for myself and children all the prerogatives of citizens of the United States, to which country I shall return as soon as circumstances may permit. Will such proceedings prevent the German, authorities from calling in question nay rights as a citizen of the United States, and those of my children?
Suppose the above declaration should not have the desired, effect as far as I am personally concerned, could this possibly affect the status of my children (now all minors) as citizens of the United States, where they were all born, the father being a naturalized citizen, the mother a native American; in other words, would the altered state of citizenship of the father forcibly bring about a change of citizenship of his minor children and his native American wife?
If none of the above joints could be decided in a positive manner, would my return to this country (United States) every two years, for a limited period, remove all doubts and his difficulties.?

In reply I received a letter from the Hon. Frederick T. Frelinghuysen dated 19th March, 1884, which I beg to inclose for perusal; it leaves my position still clouded with doubt. Perhaps the honorable Secretary of State might have been more positive in his reply if I had stated to him, the positive fact that, with the exception of my villa here, which I bought at a very low price from a returning American, my whole fortune is in vested in real estate in Louisiana, which I intend to retain intact, and that, besides, I still own my dwelling-house in New Orleans, with the intention of reoccupying it with my family on our return, I really believe no stronger proof could be given of any intention to return to the United States, and as a matter of course to retain my American citizenship of nearly one-third of a century’s standing.

On my return here I had several conversations on the subject with the United States consul and vice-consul, who are both of the opinion that inasmuch as I had fulfilled my military obligation before emigrating, having been for more than thirty-one years an American citizen, my wife and children being native Americans, and, moreover, my means being all invested in the United, States, from where alone I draw all my income, the Bancroft treaty could find no application to my particular case; and they further state that they know of many similar cases where the individuals have never been troubled by the authorities here. They are decidedly of the opinion that all that is necessary would be to have every two years my passport renewed at the United States legation in Berlin, and they think that perhaps, in order to observe even the very, wording of Article IV of the Bancroft treaty., it might be well every two year to spend a certain time abroad.

This may probably be your opinion likewise, and you may perhaps consider my steps to ascertain the opinion of the Prussian ministry of foreign affairs as altogether unnecessary; yet I thought it might serve to remove all possibility of future difficulties with the authorities here, as also in such cases to avoid a necessitated intervention of the United States legation in the future. I should feel under great obligations if, at a convenient time, you Would kindly do me the favor of transmitting to me the views you entertain respecting my particular case, and

Remain, &c.,

Bergstrasse 16.
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[Inclosure 2 in No. 74.]

Mr. Kasson to Mr. Reichard.

Sir: Your letter of the 10th instant is received. With it you inclose a communication addressed to the German ministry for foreign affairs, and request that the same he transmitted to its destination by this legation, in order, as you state, that it may receive more attentive consideration. In the communication to this legation, as well as in that to the German ministry, you present facts relating to your compliance before emigration with the obligation of military service in your native country, your acquisition of citizenship in the United States, and your places of residence since, and conclude by soliciting both from this legation and the German ministry expressions of their views upon your case.

The essential facts stated appear to be the following: You were born in Germany in 1820; emigrated in 1844, at the age of twenty-four years, to the United States, where you were naturalized January 21, 1850, as shown by a certificate of naturalization now in your possession; that in the summer of 1881 you returned to Germany in pursuit of health, and settled at Dresden; that, after a residence in Germany of more than two years, you returned last winter for business and other purposes to the United States, where you spent six months; that, finding the American climate still injurious to your health, and being advised by your physicians to absent yourself for several years more, you returned to Germany, after obtaining a new passport from the Department of State, and after making yourself acquainted with the details of the Bancroft treaty, with the special view of guarding yourself against the stipulation of Article IV of said treaty. You also state that you addressed a communication to the honorable Secretary of State on the subject of your case, and received, under date of March 19, 1884, a reply thereto which left your position still clouded with doubt.

You quote the three questions submitted in your communication to the Department of State, and request this legation to answer them, substantially repeating the same inquiries in your inclosure addressed to the German Government.

Briefly stated, you wish to know (1) whether, in view of the state of your health, you may again stay in Germany for more than two years without forfeiting for yourself or children, now all minors and born in the United States, the rights of American citizenship; (2) whether a possible forcible alteration of your citizenship would bring about a change in the citizenship of your minor children and your native American wife; (3) would your return to the United States every two years for a limited period remove all doubts and difficulties?

Replying to your first inquiry, you are informed that Atrticle IV of the treaty referred to leaves it optional with the German authorities to hold that the renunciation of American citizenship exists, as to these authorities, after your residence in Germany shall have been prolonged beyond the period of two years. This legation cannot anticipate the action thereon of the German Government. But if they should so hold, that would not make you a German subject without voluntary proceedings taken by yourself therefor. As we read the German naturalization law, after being once a citizen of another country you can again become a German subject only by applying for naturalization under their forms of law. They might expel you from Germany, but cannot make you a subject against your will.

In reply to your second inquiry, your children were all born in America—we so understand it—after you became a citizen. They are, therefore, native-born American citizens, and can become liable as German subjects in only one of two ways—(a) by their father becoming a German subject during their minority and while they remain under paternal control, or (b) by they themselves voluntarily becoming naturalized under German laws. We know of no case of an American-born citizen being put into the army as a German subject, without the father’s consent, either by naturalization or expressly. Your own naturalization as a German subject would abandon for your wife and for your minor children, at least till they attain their majority, their rights as American citizens, as their condition always follows yours.

In reply to your third inquiry, the legation is of opinion that recurring visits to Germany, not prolonged beyond two years, are permissible under the treaty, if preceded by bona fide resumptions of residence in the United States, and that the residence of six months which preceded your recent return to Germany should be regarded as such a residence.

In the opinion of this legation, the German Government reserved the right in question in order to act or decline to act upon each case as it should be presented at the time for action, without interference by the United States. We do not, therefore, believe that you would now obtain from them a satisfactory reply, and do not think it [Page 213] advisable to transmit your application to them, thus calling special attention to your case and that of your children. The only effect, in our view of the case, of your overstaying two years would, be to give the German authorities the right to say (without our interference) that you or your children, or both, must become naturalized or leave the country. As long as you hold to the bona fide intention to return to the United States to reside there as a citizen, we hold you and your minor children to be still American citizens.

Your inclosures are herewith returned.

I am, &c.,