No. 143.
Mr. Vignaud to Mr. Bayard.

No. 234.]

Sir: The Department has been made aware that according to the French law of December 16, 1874, a man born in France of a father who himself was born in France, but who became by naturalization a foreigner, is considered a French citizen unless, before he reaches the age [Page 302] of twenty-two, he establishes that he retains his original nationality? that is to say, the acquired nationality of his father.

Article 1 of this law of 1874, a copy and translation of which are here with inclosed, says that the party thus claiming foreign citizenship must prove that he has maintained his original nationality by “an attestation in due form of his Government”; but the circular issued by the French mayors to the sons and grandsons of foreigners born in France—a printed copy of which is also inclosed—says that each one of them has to produce a certificate of the diplomatic agent of the country of which he claims to be a citizen, stating that he has not lost his original nationality.

Mr. Victor Labroue, availing himself of the law of February 10, 1855 (Rev. Stat., sec. 1993), which states that “all children heretofore born or hereafter born out of the limits and jurisdiction of the United States, whose fathers were or may be at the time of their birth citizens thereof, are declared to be citizens of the United States,” applies to this legation for the above-mentioned attestation” or certificate.

The circumstances of this case are as follows:

Victor Labroue was born at Bordeaux in September, 1865. His father, Ernest Labroue, born also in France in 1829, emigrated to the United States in 1853. In 1856 he settled in the State of Minnesota, where in 1862 he was married. On the 15th of September, 1863, he was duly naturalized in the district court of Dodge County, and in the same year he was appointed by the governor a lieutenant in the Fifteenth Regiment of the State Militia. At the end of 1864 he was called back to France and took up his residence at Bordeaux.

Victor Labroue, who has taken the oath of allegiance before our consul at Bordeaux, states that his domicile is Ashland, Minn., where his relatives still reside, that he has always considered himself an American citizen and has never taken any step which might involve the forfeiture of his nationality, and that it is his intention at some future time to return to his home at Ashland. * * *

Considering that in a case almost similar, the case of Verdelet, Mr. Frelinghuysen, in his dispatch No. 377, November 9, 1883, refused to grant the certificate applied for, I have declined to comply with Mr. Labroue’s request, and beg now to be informed if, under the circumstances as stated, this legation can do so. If the certificate applied for by Mr. Labroue is refused, he will be considered by the French authorities as a French citizen and treated as such.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 234.—Translation.]

Law of December 16, 1874.

Article 1. Article 1 of the law of February 7, 1851, is amended as follows:

Any individual born in France of a foreigner who himself was born there is French, unless, in the year following the, time of his majority, as fixed by French rule, he claims his foreign nationality by a declaration made either before the municipal authorities of the place of his birth or before the diplomatic or consular agents of France abroad, and establishes that lie has maintained his original nationality by an attestation in duo form of his Government, which will remain affixed to the declaration.