No. 285.

Mr. Kasson to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 124.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith an important note from the German foreign office, dated December 31, 1884, conveying its decision in the case of Ferdinand Revermann, together with copies of all correspondence relating to the same between this legation and the German Government. This case is made the occasion for the declaration of two rules to be hereafter observed by the united German Governments, as follows:

Fathers naturalized in America and returning to Germany to reside, and there sojourning for more than two years, are to be regarded as having renounced their naturalization, under the provisions of the treaty of 1868.
But minor children of such parents born in America will be recognized as retaining their American citizenship, uninfluenced by the father’s renunciation of his naturalization; and they cannot be made to perform military service in Germany; but their sojourn in Germany may be refused, under the principles of international law, when the same may be required in the interest of public order.

* * * * * * *

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 124.]

Mr. Kasson to Count Hatzfeldt.

The undersigned, envoy, &c., of the United States of America, begs to lay before his excellency Count Hatzfeldt, imperial secretary of state, &c., the following facts, as communicated to this legation, touching the proposed expulsion of a native American citizen, Ferdinand Revermann, from the German Empire:

The father of the young man in question, Henry Joseph Revermann, emigrated to the United States in 1850; was duly naturalized in the State of Illinois, at Joliet, [Page 393] in 1856, and resided continuously in the United States as a citizen until 1871, in which year he returned to Germany, bringing with him a regular passport for himself and his family as American citizens.
The son Ferdinand, now 25 years of age, was born at Naperville, in Illinois, in October, 1860, and is therefore a native American citizen, and has now been residing peacefully and orderly at Münster, in Westphalia, where his father also resides.

The Landrath, at Münster, in 1880, certified that as he was born a citizen of the United States his name would be stricken from the military rolls and this was done. He was, however, on the 11th of this month summoned before the Landrath, at Münster, and told that by order of the Royal Government at Münster he must either become naturalized in Germany or leave the country. Against this action he appealed by protest to the said Royal Government, and on the 17th instant received a reply declining to modify the order, and directing the expulsion of said Ferdinand if he does not apply for naturalization in 3 days. He declined to be naturalized and applied for 4 weeks’ time to prepare for leaving, also offering security that at the end of that time he would leave.

In answer he was told verbally to leave by November 1st or he would be put out, or into prison. Thereupon he applied to this legation to intervene for a suspension of this order and its reversal. It is alleged that he has conducted himself in a peaceful and orderly manner while living in Germany as a native American citizen, in perfect obedience to the law;

The undersigned, in view of the imminence of the date (November 1) for the forcible expulsion of said Ferdinand, begs that his excellency will take such measures that the order complained of maybe at once suspended until the investigation be made; and that if the facts shall be found to be truly stated the order may be wholly revoked.

While inclosing the order of the Royal Government at Münster, dated the 17th instant, and addressed to Revermann’s counsel, with the respectful request for its ultimate return, the undersigned avails himself, &c.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 124.—Translation.]

Dr. Busch to Mr. Kasson.

The undersigned has received the note of October 31 ultimo, relating to Ferdinand Revermann, of Mr. John A. Kasson, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States of America, and has the honor to make the following reply thereto:

The investigation made has resulted in showing that the statements made in the note referred to respecting Revermann are correct. Ferdinand Revermann was born in America in 1860, and returned in 1871 to Germany, to reside there permanently, in company with his father, Heinrich Joseph Revermann, who emigrated from Germany in the year 1850, and was naturalized as an American citizen in the United States of America in 1856.

The same circumstances exist, therefore, with respect to Ferdinand Revermann as in the cases of Georg Weigand (Wiegand), of Philadelphia, and the brothers Oppenheimer, at Frankfort-on-the-Main, which were submitted here for discussion in the esteemed notes of July 6 and November 8, 1881, respectively.

Prompted by these two special cases, the Government of His Majesty the Emperor, had already assumed the task of causing a close examination to be made respecting the legal status of the sons of those Germans who, as naturalized citizens of the United States of America, had during the minority of their sons, born in America, returned in their company to Germany to reside there permanently.

As regards the fathers of such sons, no doubt can exist that they are to be regarded as having renounced their naturalization by a longer sojourn than one or two years, pursuant to the treaties regulating nationality of 1868, concluded with the United States. The provisions of these treaties do not, however, extend to the minor children of persons naturalized in America. The rules there prescribed cannot, therefore, find any application to the legal status of these children.

This legal status should, therefore, be judged rather by the principles of law governing in the United States, in view of the fact that the children have been born in America, and have thereby, apart from the naturalization of the fathers, independently acquired American citizenship.

American law, so far as known here, contains no provision which makes the renunciation of American naturalization by the father act upon his minor sons also.

[Page 394]

The Government of His Majesty the Emperor has therefore no hesitation in recognizing such persons as American citizens, in harmony with the views expressed in the notes referred to. Individuals possessing this character cannot he made to perform military service in Germany. But international principles permit the refusal to such persons of sojourn in Germany, and the adoption of measures against them, as soon as such course shall seem requisite in the interest of public order. This condition is assumed to exist by this Government when the actual circumstances indicate that the persons in question use their American citizenship only for the purpose of withdrawing themselves from the duties, and in particular from the military duty, devolving upon the domestic population, without being disposed to abandon their permanent sojourn in Germany and the advantages connected therewith. In such cases the less objection can be found to the adoption of the measure of expulsion, in view of the circumstance that American protection is customarily refused to persons who have left America while minors and have taken up their residence abroad.

In view of the principles thus presented, in accordance with which the united Governments* purpose to act in future in all such cases, the undersigned regrets that he does not find himself in a position to cause a change to be made in the measures taken against the brothers Oppenheimer and against Ferdinand Revermann.

The case of Weigand (Wiegand) has in the mean time been disposed of by his return to America.

While the undersigned permits himself to return herewith the inclosure of the note of October 31 last, he avails, &c.

[Inclosure 3 in No. 124]

Mr. Kasson to Dr. Busch.

The undersigned, envoy, &c., of the United States of America, acknowledges the reception of the valued note in which Dr. Busch, under secretary of state, &c., has been pleased to advise him of the conclusion to which his Imperial Majesty’s Government has come in the case of Ferdinand Revermann.

While reserving the questions involved for the appreciation of his Government, the undersigned allows himself to offer two observations upon the contents of the note.

It is believed that the foreign office is under a misapprehension in assuming “that American protection is customarily refused to persons who have left America while minors and have taken up their residence in a foreign country.” So far as this legation is aware, such protection cannot be refused to American citizens who left their country while minors, except when after coming of age they have voluntarily abandoned or forfeited their American citizenship.
It is also believed that in cases where the local authorities enforced such orders as the one in question, a reasonable time should always be allowed between the notification and the execution of the order to permit the resident stranger to arrange his affairs for such an emergency, and especially where no bad action is charged as the occasion of the order of expulsion.

Submitting this observation to the just consideration of the department of foreign affairs, the undersigned avails, &c.

  1. Governments of the various German states.—Translator.