No. 301.

Mr. Bayard to Mr. Pendleton.

No. 19.]

Sir: I herewith inclose a copy of the affidavit of Mr. Charles L. George, a naturalized citizen of the United States, together with his citizen paper and that of his father, Mr. Peter George, in support of his complaint against the German Government for false imprisonment, the facts of which appear to be as follows:

Peter George, the father, a native of Germany, came to this country in 1840, was naturalized as shown by his citizen paper on the 16th October, 1848 returned to Germany in 1851, and married there. The son Charles was born at Lamperts-loch, Alsace-Lorraine, on the 9th January, 1859, that is after his father had been residing there eight years. Both father and son then appear to have continued to reside there until the son was over sixteen years of age, and then in May, 1875, they came together [Page 421] to the United States, and have since resided more or less continuously at Philadelphia. The son states that he voted when he came of age, that is, in 1881, by virtue of his father’s citizenship, but he appears, in anticipation of his return to Germany, to have taken out his own citizen paper on the 10th May, 1884. Furnished with this document the son, Charles, returned on a visit to his birthplace, arriving thereon June 2, 1884. On the 12th July of the same year he was arrested by a gendarme named Rick, at the town of Sulz, on the Wald, and taken to Strasburg, 30 miles distant by railroad, where he was imprisoned. The prison inspector told him his papers had been sent for, had arrived the third day after his arrest, and had been sent to the statthalter-general, Manteuffel. When he had been imprisoned twenty days his friends petitioned for his release, but were told that he must remain in prison for forty days, which he did, and was then released. When arrested he had 63 marks, which were taken from him, and on his release 40 marks and 71 pfennigs of them were returned, as the authorities told him, to pay his board while in prison and his railroad transportation, though he appears to have been put to hard enough work from 5 a.m. till 7 p.m., to pay for the poor food which he alleges that he received in prison.

This case would seem to present some new points of difference with other cases in Alsace Lorraine and also to be at variance with the course of procedure which this Department understands was to be adopted by the German authorities in their treatment of naturalized citizens of other countries whom they find in that province.

Taking it for granted that the German Government still adheres to its previous refusal to apply the Bancroft treaty to Alsace-Lorraine, and referring to the edict of the statthalter of the 23d August, 1884, inclosed in Mr. Everett’s No. 327, of the 4th September, 1884, it would appear that the utmost penalty for foreign citizens was expulsion from the province in case they declined to resume German nationality, and, if the third article of that edict is correctly understood here, unmarried foreigners would be allowed to remain in Alsace-Lorraine during good behavior, and should they marry, even their children might be allowed to remain until they reached the military age. There is no suggestion, of line or imprisonment in any case as a penalty for avoidance of military obligation by emigration. Even in the case of Constant Golly, as given in Mr. Kasson’s No. 261, who was formally charged by the imperial foreign office, in their note of the 12th May, 1885, with intention to evade military duty, there was no fine or imprisonment, and he was simply told to leave by a certain date.

In the present case of Charles George, an imprisonment of forty days, in spite of a petition to the statthalter, was rigorously insisted upon, and a part of the money found on him was retained to pay for his transportation to prison and his board while there, which, as far as this Department is aware, is the first time an American prisoner in Germany has been called upon to refund such expenses.

In Mr. George’s case it is not evident on what ground the Alsace-Lorraine authorities could base a charge of want of good faith on his part. He was not sixteen when he left Germany for America, and the period of being summoned for military service was too far distant, therefore, to look to as a reason. The fact that his father accompanied him and remained here with him ought to tell in his favor, and he does not appear to have been charged with wanting “to remain in Alsace-Lorraine, which is, after all, the grievance complained of in the statthalter’s [Page 422] edict, and against which all the precautions and punishments seem to be directed.

The danger predicted by the statthalter is that “in time the population of the country will be in a great measure composed of foreigners and the German army will lose a considerable number of recruits.” Judging him from this point of view, Mr. George neither deserved imprisonment nor expulsion. The arguments of the minister of foreign affairs as given in Mr. Kasson’s No. 265 would seem to have no application here, as they regard the two-years clause of the Bancroft treaty, which does not, according to German interpretation, cover Alsace Lorraine.

You will take an early opportunity to bring the case of Mr. George to the attention of the foreign office, with a request for a careful examination into it, and such explanations as may best promote a continuance of the friendly relations between the Governments of Germany and the United States.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 19.]

Affidavit of Charles L. George.

County of Philadelphia, ss;

Charles L. George, being duly sworn according to law, doth depose and say: I am a resident of the State of Pennsylvania and a citizen of the United States. My father, Peter George, a native of Germany, came to the United States in the year 1840, was naturalized, returned to Germany in 1851, and married. I was born in Germany on January 9, 1859. In May, 1875, my father and I came to the United States (my father for the second time), arriving in New York, and immediately afterwards coming to Philadelphia, where I have generally since resided; I was under seventeen years of age when I came to this country, and voted when of age by virtue of my father’s citizenship.

In 1884 I visited the place of my birth, viz, Lampertsloch, Canton Woerth, on the River Sauer, Alsace, leaving Philadelphia May 17, 1884, and arriving at my destination June 2, 1884. On July 12, 1881, while at Snlz, on the Wald (3 miles from Lampertsloch), I was arrested by a gendarme named Hick. I asked him what I was arrested for, to which he replied that I was judicially prosecuted for avoiding military duty due the German Government. I told him I was a citizen of the United States, and requested him to go with me to Lampertsloch for my papers or send for them. He said he did not want to see my papers, and took me to Strasburg, 30 miles distant by railroad, where I was imprisoned among criminals. In a conversation with the prison inspector I was told that if I had my papers I would be set at liberty. Afterwards the same inspector informed me that he had sent for my naturalization papers, and that they came the third day after my arrest, and had been forwarded to State Attorney Manteuffel. About a week later I asked the inspector about my case, why I was detained; he said he did not know how it was, again stating that he had received my papers and forwarded them to the state attorney. When I had been incarcerated twenty days my friends petitioned the state attorney, through counsel, for my release, to which he replied that I had to remain in prison for forty days. I served forty days and then I was released.

When arrested I had 63 marks, which the authorities took from me and returned of the same at my release 22 marks 29 pfennigs. The difference, I was informed, was deducted to pay my board while in prison and railroad transportation.

I was fed on prison fare—coarse, indigestible black bread and bran soup. I was sick when set at liberty, and remained so for some time. While in prison, I was obliged to work at breaking sea grass and carrying heavy bags every day from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Notary Public.