Mr. Kasson to Mr. Bayard.
Berlin, April 15, 1885. (Received May 7.)
Sir: So far as is known to this legation the following naturalization question is now presented for the first time.
John L. Geist, aged sixteen years, born in the United States in 1869, of a father naturalized in 1872, who has since resumed German allegiance, and resident at Frankfort-on-the-Main, Germany, with his father’s family since 1872, applies for a passport.
His father, George W. Geist, a German subject, emigrated to the United States in 1854, but was not naturalized until 1872. It appears that he was granted a certificate of naturalization without a previous declaration of intention because of an honorable discharge from the Army at some time previous thereto. The same year, and very soon after obtaining that certificate, he returned to Germany to reside, and has resided here ever since. He has recently renounced his American citizenship and become a German subject, as the consul at Frankfort informs me. He adds that this was done with the “condition that his son, John L. Geist, being a native born citizen of the United States of America and a minor, should elect whether he would return to and take the nationality of his birth”; he further says that John L. Geist, the applicant, has been notified by the German authorities “that he may not remain in Germany later than August 1 next.” The applicant says that he intends to return to the United States about June, 1885.
The case appears as follows: (1) that John L. Geist was born in the United States before his father was naturalized $ (2) that under section 2172 of Revised Statutes he was to be “considered as a citizen thereof”; (3) that under the ruling of the Department (see instruction of January 15, 1885, No. 83) he remained a minor citizen of the United States so long as his father remained a citizen; (4) that under ruling of State Department (see instruction of January 15, 1885, No. 84) the allegiant condition of the minor son, while residing within the jurisdiction and under the control of the father, follows that of the father, (this is confirmed by Attorneys General Opinions, Vol. XV, p. 15); (5) [Page 409] that under the ruling of the German Government (see my No. 124 of January 6, 1885, Inclosure 2) this minor continues to be an American citizen, even after the renunciation (under treaty of 1868) by his father of American citizenship, and cannot therefore be required to perform military duty in Germany; (6) that by American ruling (see Attorney-General’s Opinion, ut sup.) this minor may by his voluntary act after attaining his majority, and by residence in the United States, reclaim his American citizenship.
Quœre: Can John L. Geist, while still a minor, and residing with his parents in Germany, of which they have now become subjects, claim a passport as an American citizen?
Held at this legation, that he cannot under the American rulings, because his option to elect the citizenship of the United States cannot be exercised till he attains his majority.
The case is referred to the Department for revision, and for instruction to this legation.
Copy of my reply to the consul is herewith inclosed.
I have, &c.,
P. S.—Since the foregoing dispatch was written, Consul-General Vogeler has replied to my note of the 15th instant, and transmitted a copy of the father’s (Geist) certificate of German (Prussian) naturalization, embracing his wife, and all his minor children by name, save the one who applies for the passport. He also incloses a letter from this new German subject, G. W. Geist, full of errors and contradictions. Copies of these papers are also inclosed herewith. The most charitable view to take of the father is that his mind is partially disordered, like the teeth which it is his profession to extract.