to Mr. Bayard.
Paris, January 24, 1888. (Received February 7.)
Sir: I have the honor to send herewith copy of a note addressed to Mr. Flourens, on the 11th instant, with reference to the vexed question of the protection of American citizens of French origin, from whom military service is claimed when they visit France.
As you have been made aware by previous correspondence from this legation, there are now two American citizens of French parentage serving in the French army—Pierre Arbios, of California, and John Fruchier, of Nevada. If there is not a third (Albert F. Gendrot) it is because he has escaped after being arrested. You are also aware that when this legation applies for the discharge of an American of this category, the French Government requires that proof be made of his foreign citizenship before a court of justice, and admits that if such proof is made the man is entitled to his discharge.
In my note to Mr. Flourens I contend that when the United States Government claims an individual as a naturalized American citizen the evidence of this fact is established, and I decline to go before any court of justice to furnish a proof which is already in the possession of the Government and which it is at liberty to accept if willing to do so. I therefore renewed formally my application for the discharge of the two naturalized Americans now in the French army, and I asked for the release from all military obligation of the natural-born American claimed as French, demanding for the latter the same rights of citizenship conceded by the French Government to the naturalized American.
My note closes with an effort to impress upon Mr. Flourens the necessity of coming to some equitable arrangement with reference to cases of this kind, and I have pledged myself to consider in a friendly spirit any proposition he may be disposed to make to reach that end.
The conversations I have had with him on this subject, and the information furnished to the legation by the foreign office, lead me to believe that some kind of agreement may be made as to the mode of establishing the naturalization of those claimed as Americans. Mr. Flourens admitted to me that there should be some other means of making known to the war department that a man claiming to have renounced his French citizenship has really done so than by appealing to the courts; but he stated that in matters of this kind the Government had to defer greatly to the opinion of the minister of war.
With reference to American-born citizens whose fathers were French, Mr. Flourens showed no disposition to yield) the ruling principle of France, he said, was that the nationality was derived from parentage and not from the place of birth. I did not press him upon this point, because I am satisfied that if he makes any concession concerning naturalized French Americans he will have also to concede something concerning natural born Americans of French parentage.
An early reply to my communication can hardly be expected.
I have, etc.,