No. 87.
Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Morton.

No. 436.]

Sir: I inclose herewith for your information copies of certain papers which have been filed in this Department in regard to the case of Alfred P. Jacob, of Philadelphia, Pa., who claims exemption from the performance of military duty in France upon the ground that he is an American citizen. It appears from these papers the father was naturalized during the son’s minority. This made the son an American citizen without regard to place of birth. His American birth at Philadelphia is not pertinent, it being asserted that his father registered him in the French consulate as a Frenchman, and so his case may be considered precisely as though he had been brought to this country while a minor. But this gave no claim to military service. He was only 17 when his father’s act made him an American citizen. He had never been within French jurisdiction. He could not therefore be a deserter. The United States passport given to him should have protected him. That was prima facie evidence of his right as an American citizen by our law, which France cannot disregard. The French Code says that all Frenchmen who become citizens of another country by the laws thereof lose French citizenship thereby. Had this want of respect to an American passport been brought to our attention at the time, this Government would have urgently protested. This does not appear to have been done. Young Jacob seems to have acquiesced and served his term. This personal acquiescence may possibly vitiate his right to relief or indemnity for the past, but it does not destroy the right of this Government to feel itself aggrieved (if the facts are found to be as stated) that a United States passport should have been disregarded. The least that France can do is to recognize that Jacob became a citizen by due operation of law, and strike his name off the roll.

You will therefore bring this matter to the attention of the foreign office with a view to having such action taken in the premises as may appear proper, upon full inquiry into all the facts of the case.

I am, &c.,

[Page 136]
[Inclosure in No. 436.]

Mr. Jacob to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

Sir: Having been born in Philadelphia July 10, 1858, of French parents, and having lived and pursued my studies in said city till the age of 19, I have always considered myself an American citizen.

Nevertheless, after graduating at the Polytechnic College I went abroad with my family to remain a few years. I was drafted and incorporated in the French army against my will and right, as my father had been naturalized while I was under age and had voted.

I called on the American legation at Paris, but they were unable to clear the case owing to the fact that I had been registered at my birth at the office of the French consul at Philadelphia.

My papers and those of my father were presented to the French Government by the American minister, together with a written protestation signed by me and approved by the legation.

All this being of no avail, I submitted and was obliged, under pain of being considered a deserter, to serve for a period of four years in the army, never giving up the desire, however, of retaining my American citizenship.

Being now relieved of the French service I have returned to my native country, and I appeal to you to please take such measures as you may think proper to have my name marked off from the French roll, for, being a citizen of the United States, I wish to be able to travel as such on the continent without further trouble about the French army.

Inclosed you will find all my papers in testimony of the above statements, and I will be much obliged to you to return same.

Hoping you will consider my claims, and answer favorably,

I remain, &c.,