No. 97.
Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Morton.

No. 477.]

Sir: I transmit herewith a copy of a sworn statement of Mr. John B. Foichat, a citizen of the United States, who has been for the last nine years a resident of the State of Indiana, also a statement of several distinguished citizens of that state who are his neighbors, who vouch for his good character and standing. The facts upon which Mr. Foichat’s claim rests, as you will perceive from a perusal of the memorial, and which for your greater convenience I condense, appear to be these, namely:

John B. Foichat, the claimant, was born in Bordeaux, France, on the 4th of January 1853; in 1870, when 17 years of age, he came to the United States, and has ever since resided in the State of Indiana. In May, 1883, he was regularly admitted to citizenship of the United States by the circuit court of the State of Indiana for Parke County. In August, 1883, he obtained a passport from this Department with a view of revisiting his native town and his relations there, and arrived in Bordeaux in September, 1883. On the 22d of November following he was arrested on the charge of having failed, when he attained the age of 21 years, to report for military service. He exhibited his passport and certificate of naturalization and demanded to be released and allowed to proceed on his way. These papers, together with his private papers, were seized and retained by the officers, and he was kept in the military prison at Chamberry two days and three nights; he was then handcuffed and taken to the military prison at Grenoble to be tried by court-martial; then he was imprisoned in a cell and his valuables all taken [Page 146] from him. He was detained at Grenoble four days. His case at last reached the ear of B. F. Peixotto, esq., United States consul at Lyons, and through the efforts of that officer Foichat was released on the ground of his American citizenship.

There appears to be no reason for doubting the correctness of the claimant’s statement. These, however, you will be able to satisfy yourself about by inquiry of the United States consul at Lyons, and if you find them substantially as stated, you will, I have no doubt, concur in the view entertained by the Department, that aside from the mere personal inconvenience and expense to which the claimant was subjected, the transaction involved an unwarranted and seemingly unnecessary indignity offered to a citizen of the United States which this Government cannot suffer to pass unnoticed. You will, under the conditions stated, i. e., the facts found upon inquiry to be true, present the claim to the minister of state for foreign affairs with the earnest request on the part of this Government that the subject may receive from that of France early and just consideration, and that a reasonable pecuniary indemnity will be awarded and paid on behalf of Mr. Foichat. I do not allow myself to doubt but that the justice of the claim will be at once recognized by the French Government, animated, as that Government is, by the highest sentiments of liberality and fairness.

You will report the result of your proceedings in the matter to the Department.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 477.]

Mr. Harrison to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

Sir: I have the honor to inclose the sworn statement of John G. Foichat, a citizen of the United States and a resident of Parke County, Indiana; also the letter of Ared F. White, Esq., an attorney-at-law at Rockville, Parke Co., Ind. It seems clear from the statement made by Mr. Foichat that his rights as an American citizen have been wantonly and grossly invaded by the French authorities. I respectfully ask that such steps may be taken by your Department as are necessary to a fall investigation of this case, and if the facts are found to be as stated by Mr. Foichat, that a proper demand for reparation may be made.

Very respectfully, &c.,


Mr. White to Mr. Harrison.

Sir: Herewith I send you the affidavit of John G. Foichat, of our county, which will fully explain itself.

Mr. Foichat feels deeply aggrieved over his treatment and wishes such redress as is proper in such cases.

He knew of no better way than setting forth the facts by way of affidavit, and also having several citizens who knew him to unite in a request to the Secretary of State to take action in the matter, and then forwarding the papers to yourself and respectfully ask you to lay the matter before the Secretary. He is aware that your time is absorbed by your duties in the Senate, but he fully believes you will be interested in a matter of this character so much as to excuse a trespass upon your time, and will place the case with the proper authorities.

Yours, &c.,

[Page 147]

State of Indiana,
County of Parke, ss:

John B. Foichat, being duly sworn, on oath says: That he is a resident of said county and State since the — day of —, 1875; that he was born in Bordeaux, department of Savoi, in France, on the 4th day of January, 1853; that he emigrated to the United States of America when he was the age of 17 years, since which time he has been a resident of said United States, and of said State of Indiana the time above mentioned; that afterwards, to wit, on the 1st day of May, 1883, with intent of making said United States his future home and of becoming a bona fide citizen thereof, he did, at the April term of the circuit court of said county, make proof and take the oath of allegiance required by law, and at said time made oath to support the Constitution of said United States, all in due form of law; that thereupon there was issued to affiant, under the hand of the clerk of said court and the seal thereof, a proper certificate of said facts and of his becoming a naturalized citizen of said United States as aforesaid; that afterwards, to wit, on the 20th day of August, 1883, affiant desiring to visit his birth-place and his parents, who still reside there, and other relations who also resided there, there was issued to him in due form of law, from the office of Secretary of State of said United States, a “passport” which recited, among other matters, that affiant was a citizen of said United States, and requested all whom it might concern to freely pass affiant, and in case of need to give him all lawful aid and protection; that thereupon affiant, upon the 27th day of September, 1883, visited said town of Bordeaux and his said relatives; that being there for such purpose and none other and conducting himself lawfully and peacefully, he was, without cause, on the 22d day of November, 1883, at said town, arrested, by certain officers in the service of said Government of France, for the alleged reason of his failing to respond, when he came 21 years of age, to a demand of said Government to do military duty as required by said Government of her subjects. Affiant says that at said time, to wit, on the said 22d day of December, 1883, he made exhibit to said officers of his said passport and naturalization papers, and demanded to be passed, respected, and protected as a citizen of the United States, but that said officers did not respect his rights as such citizen, but, upon the contrary, and notwithstanding such demand and papers and passport, maintained said arrest and retained said passport and papers and thrust him in the military prison at Chamberry, in said department; that he was required to remain in said prison for a period of two days and three nights; that thereupon certain other officers of said Government put hand-cuffs upon affiant and took him to the military prison at Grenoble, in France, for the purpose of being court-martialed upon said charge of failing to respond for military duty as aforesaid; that thereupon they took from affiant all articles of value and then incarcerated him in a cell in said prison and kept him there for a period of four days upon coarse prison fare, and was not allowed to purchase any article of food such as he desired, but such request was denied; that thereupon he was released through the interposition of the consul of said United States at Lyons, to wit, Hon. B. F. Peixotto, consul at said place, upon the ground and for the reason that affiant was at the time of said arrest and imprisonment a citizen of said United States, as aforesaid; that during said imprisonment last mentioned he was allowed no reasonable time to communicate with said consul as to his release, but such privilege was delayed as long as possible; that no proper effort was made by said officers or other proper authorities of said Government of France to investigate said facts touching his said citizenship, and that they utterly failed to respect said papers and passport as they of right should have done.

Wherefore affiant says that his rights and dignity as an American citizen was disregarded and insulted by said Government of France by Reason of the acts in the premises, and he humbly appeals to his Government and prays that such steps may be taken in the premises as will best cause due reparation be made by said Government of France for her acts above stated, to the end that the citizenship of affiant be respected and upheld, and for the dignity and protection of American citizenship in the future.


Notary Public, Parke County, Indiana.

The undersigned citizens of Rockville, Parke County, Indiana, would respectfully represent that John B. Foichat, whose affidavit is attached hereto, is a citizen of this county and is of good repute for honesty and sobriety, and whose general reputation in all respects is good.

He has lived in our county a good many years, and has been a peaceable, industrious, [Page 148] and law-abiding citizen. We unite most heartily in requesting such action as may be proper in such cases to be taken in his case, to the end that justice may be done him.

Your obedient servants,

  • A. F. WHITE,
  • E. HUNT,
    County Auditor.
  • J. N. M. CAMPBELL,
    County Treasurer.
    Deputy County Treasurer.
  • WM. J. WHITE.
  • F. H. BARNES.
  • F. M. HOWARD,
    Prosecuting Attorney Twenty-second Circuit, Indiana.
    Clerk Parke Circuit Court.
    Deputy Clerk Parke Circuit Court.
    Trustee Adams Township.

Hon. Fred’k T. Frelinghuysen,
Secretary of State, U. S. A.