to Mr. Bayard.
Paris , March 2, 1888. (Received March 13.)
Sir: I have received your No. 298, of February 15, with reference to American citizens of French parentage summoned to perform military service in France, and I have complied with your instructions by calling on Mr. Flourens and by leaving with him a copy of your dispatch, which he promised to read with attention.[Page 520]
I have pressed upon him the point made by you that if a citizen of the United States is subjected to forced military service on the assumption that he is not such a citizen, he must be released and a compensation given him for the loss he may have incurred through such detention.
The two American citizens, however, now in the French army, Arbios and Fruchier, are not detained on the ground that they are “not” American citizens, but on the ground that the statement of my Government or mine to that effect is not sufficient, no evidence of such a fact being satisfactory to the French authorities but a judgment of a French court of justice. Practically, therefore, the one question runs into the other, yet your dispatch is subject to the construction that the demand for an immediate release is confined to the single contingency that their retention in the service is based upon an assumption that they are not citizens.
My dispatch to Mr. Flourens, a copy of which I sent you, had no other object but to remonstrate against this pretension of the French Government to compel me, or the parties interested, to go before a court of justice to furnish evidence of a fact which is already established by my official declaration. In this position I am fully sustained by your dispatch, but it may be doubted whether it goes as far as to authorize me to make a demand for immediate release and pecuniary compensation in cases like those of Arbios and Fruchier, who are held subject to a judicial decision as to their citizenship. At all events I am afraid that Mr. Flourens will so construe your dispatch, and it is for this reason, and to avoid the possibility of embarrassing you, that I call your attention to the distinction here taken, and also to the further fact that these two men who are now in the French military service will be detained there until released by a French court of justice upon their own solicitation.
I have no observation to make as to the first phase of fact treated in your dispatch to me, “that of natural-born citizens of the United States, not of French parentage,” nor did I invite Mr. Flourens to consider that point, as in such cases, as you will observe, “no question of military service in France could arise.”
I have, etc.,