No. 420.
Mr. Manning to Mr. Bayard.

No. 25.]

Sir: Under your instruction* No. 18 of 20th instant, relative to a notice to Americans published by this legation in August last, I addressed a note to Mr. Mariscal setting forth the position of the United States Government with regard to the doctrine of involuntary change of allegiance, as embodied in Article I, Chapter V, of the Mexican Law of Foreigners, and herewith inclosed I transmit copy of my note to Mr. Mariscal.

In this connection I deem it proper to inclose a circular letter issued by this legation to the consular officers of the United States in Mexico under date of the 4th ultimo.

I am, etc.,

Th. C. Manning.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 25.]

Mr. Manning to Mr. Mariscal.

Sir: Referring to the provisions of Article I of Chapter V of the Law of Foreigners, which was published by your excellency’s Government in the Diario Oficial of June 7, 1886, I have the honor ttf say, under instructions from my own Government, that the United States, while claiming for aliens within its jurisdiction and freely conceding to its citizens in other jurisdictions the right of expatriation, has always maintained that the transfer of allegiance must be by a distinctly voluntary act, and that the loss of citizenship cannot be imposed as a penalty, nor a new national status forced as a favor by one Government upon a citizen of another.

Not only is this believed to be the generally recognized rule of international law, hut it is pertinent to notice that it was accepted and acted upon by the mixed commission under the convention of July 4, 1868, between the United States and Mexico. The first umpire of the commission, Dr. Francis Lieber, held, and the commissioners subsequently followed his decision, that a law of Mexico declaring every purchaser of land in that country a Mexican citizen, unless he expressed a desire not to become so, did not operate to change, against their will, the national status of citizens of the United States who had purchased land in Mexico, but who had omitted in so doing to disclaim an intention to transfer their allegiance.

The advertised notice to Americans and the circular letters to United States consuls in Mexico from this legation can not be interpreted as an admission by this legation of the defensibleness on generally-accepted principles of international intercourse, of legislative decrees changing the national status of foreigners without their consent. Americans were notified that unless they did certain things they would “be considered by the Mexican Government as Mexican citizens.” This, it is to be observed, does not assert or imply that this legation accede, to the position of your excellency’s Government. But, in order to avoid any question of this kind hereafter, I take this occasion to make known to the Government of Mexico through your excellency that [Page 673] the Government of the United States does not regard the publication of the notice above referred to as admitting the doctrine of involuntary change of allegiance, or that the same can be held conclusive upon our citizens, and that it is constrained to withhold its assent from that doctrine as embraced in Article I, Chapter V, of the law referred to.

I am, etc.,

Th. C. Manning.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 25.—Circular letter.]

To the Consular Officers of the United States in Mexico:

Sirs: I have to request that you will at once, and in the most effective manner, notify all Americans within your consular district that in conformity with Article I, Chapter Y, of Law on Foreigners, of June, 1886, foreigners who may have acquired real estate or have had children born to them within the Republic will be considered by the Mexican Government Mexican citizens, unless they officially declare their intention to retain their own nationality, and to that effect obtain from the department of foreign affairs a certificate of nationality on or before December 4, 1886.

Said certificates may be obtained for Americans through the legation of the United States in this city. Applications for same must be accompanied by $1 for the necessary revenue stamps and 25 cents for return postage, you collecting the same sum (25 cents) for your postage.

No oath, declaration, nor personal description need accompany the petition, but you should be satisfied that the applicant is an American citizen.

I am, sir, etc.,

Henry R. Jackson.
  1. Printed p. 723, For. Rels. 1886.