Mr. Pendleton to Mr. Bayard.
Berlin, June 6, 1887. (Received June 20.)
Sir: I inclose herewith a copy of my note to the foreign office of the date of March 30, 1887, and of the note of the foreign office dated May 25, 1887 (with translation), in the case of Albert Bernhard, a citizen of the United States, who emigrated from Alsace-Lorraine in 1872.
It will be observed that Count Berchem questions the citizenship in the United States of Bernhard, notwithstanding his naturalization, because—
- The code civil prevailed in Alsace-Lorraine until 1873 (a year after Bernhardt emigration). That code provides that French nationality could be lost by an “éstablissement fait en pays étranger sans esprit de retour,” and “les établissements de commerce ne pourront jamais être considérés comme ayant. êté faits sans esprit de retour,” and that after Bernhardt declaration before the chief state’s attorney at Mulhausen it can not be accepted that at the beginning of his residence in America he had the intention not to return to his home. Such intention must be proven affirmatively and clearly.
- When Bernhard acquired his United States citizenship, the German law of June 1, 1870, introduced into Alsace-Lorraine in 1873, prevailed for the inhabitants of those provinces; and that Bernhard had not complied with its provisions, neither obtained a dismissal from his German allegiance according to section 13, No. 1, nor remained abroad ten years, according to section 13, No. 4.
Having thus contested Bernhardt release from German allegiance, the statement is made that the evidence of his affiliation with the “league of patriots,” resulting from the finding of the statutes of that organization (alleged to be in favor of forcible separation of the province of Alsace-Lorraine from the German Empire) in his possession, subjected him to grave suspicion, and that such suspicion fully warranted the arrest, isolation, and the interception of his mails whilst his examination was progressing, and that all these measures were taken in exact compliance with the provisions of the law.[Page 390]
The contention that Bernhard is not freed from his German allegiance would seem to have force, if, indeed, the provisions of the Bancroft treaty of 1868 with the North German Confederation do not apply to the provinces of Alsace-Lorraine, and that they do not seems to be very strongly implied in the instruction of Mr. Fish, Secretary of State, to Mr. Bancroft, April 14, 1873, in which the fact that “the provisions of none of the treaties extend to Alsace and Lorraine” is urged as a reason for the negotiation of a treaty which shall be coextensive with the limits of the Empire.
I have not yet answered the note of the foreign office, because of some hesitation in what sense the answer may be most effectively presented, either as to the question of citizenship or as to the other question of the reasonableness and fairness of the measures of arrest, search, and surveillance of mails, etc., as to which I have no proof except the statements of Bernhard, whose protests rather admitted the presence of the inculpating evidence, but sought to avoid the conclusion by the allegation that they were only casually in his possession, and were, in fact, the property of his brother. If you have any suggestion to make as to the answer which you desire should be presented, or as to the course which I shall hereafter pursue, I would be glad to have early instructions.
I have not failed to advise Bernhard of the position taken by the foreign office, and of the possibility of his being subjected to great inconvenience and discomfort if there should arise further cause for the action of the German police; and I did this the more readily because he had written to me and inquired whether his absence from Alsace would prejudice his claim against the German Government, and expressed his great willingness to accept a lucrative position in Paris which had been offered to him, if his presence were not essential. From his last letter, received yesterday, I infer that he has changed his mind, as he philosophically remarks that he has suffered so much annoyance that a little more or less additional inconvenience would not seem a matter of any importance. I ought to have stated above, that a few days after his arrest Bernhard was released from custody, and that soon afterward he was notified that the examination in his case had been concluded and he would not be prosecuted.
I have, etc.,