Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Kasson .
Washington , February 7, 1885.
Sir: Your dispatch, No. 124 of the 6th ultimo, reports the correspondence had by you with the foreign office in the case of Ferdinand Revermann a citizen of the United States by birth, lately expelled from [Page 400] Germany. The decision of the German Government, as communicated by you, broadly covers the questions of the treaty rights of naturalized Germans returning to Germany, and of their sons born American citizens.
The same general questions have been recently examined, and the views of this Department communicated fully by instructions No. 83 of the 15th ultimo, and No. 84 of the same date.
Lest silence should be construed as acquiescence in the position now taken by Germany, it seems proper to put on record some observations touching it. For this purpose it does not seem necessary to recite and discuss the particular case of Revermann; it will suffice to merely notice certain points of Dr. von Busch’s note of December 31, 1884.
That note professes only to deal with the case of the sons of naturalized and returning fathers. But it lays down the following rule:
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.
My instruction to you, No. 83, of the 15th ultimo, deals with this question.
We think it clear that the treaty cannot of itself convert an American citizen back again to a German, any more than it can make a German a citizen of the United States.
There are, it is believed, many persons now in Germany whose sojourn has extended beyond the term of two years without their being called upon to resume German allegiance. In all their relationships with this Government they retain American citizenship. There is between them and the authorities of their place of sojourn no relationship, implying resumption of their original status, and no jurisdictional rights are exercised over them.
As to the sons of such fathers, who, being citizens by birth, may visit the land of their father’s allegiance, the decision of the German Government is just. They are original citizens in their own right, and the treaty does not relate to them. In all respects they stand on the same footing as native Americans of American parentage. This being so, the contention of the German Government, that such sons may be expelled from Germany on abrupt notice, at the pleasure of the authorities, under the alternative of becoming German subjects, is tantamount to claiming the right to expel any citizen of the United States in like manner and with the like alternative, which, of course, would conflict with the provisions of the existing treaty.
Such sons are admittedly and rightfully not within the provisions of the naturalization treaty of 1868. Then, as American citizens by native right, they must come under the general provisions of treaty affecting all American citizens who have not been naturalized.
This Government does not suppose that it will be called upon to acquiesee in the arbitrary establishment of a class of citizens who have no rights under either treaty, but who may any day be called upon to instantly become naturalized as German subjects or hastily expelled from the country, without time for preparation.
Dr. von Busch’s claim that “international principles permit the refusal to such persons of sojourn in Germany,” in the interest of public order, “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 [Page 401] abandon their permanent sojourn in Germany and the advantages connected therewith,” is not fully understood by me; and perhaps its objectionable character may disappear on further explanation; but so far as I understand it, I cannot see why this line of argument does not apply to any and every native born American citizen of military age who, for purposes of business, study, or pleasure, may take up a peaceable abode in Germany, whether he has relatives in that country or not.
The singular character of Dr. von Busch’s contention, and the remarkable consequences which might, if it were admitted, flow therefrom, make it advisable that its true purport should be better understood before instructing you more definitely in the case of Ferdinand Revermann.
You will therefore take an early occasion to point out the contradictions involved in the German reply, and the difficulty we would find in acquiescing therein.
I am, &c.,