No. 1069.
Mr. Straus to Mr. Bayard.

No. 66.]

Sir: I inclose for your consideration a copy of a letter from Mr. J. L. Barton, and a copy of my reply, touching the question of protection to American citizens recently naturalized on returning to the country of their origin.

I have, etc.,

O. S. Straus.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 66.]

Mr. Barton to Mr. Straus.

Sir: From this city and its immediate vicinity some six hundred Turkish subjects, Armenians by race, are now in the United States. I was told to-day that sixty more will set out for the same land in a few days.

Some of these people have now been in the United States for four or five years. I am almost daily asked if these Armenians return as American citizens will they be protected in their rights as such.

I confess ignorance upon this point and now write for information. Has the United States a special treaty with Turkey concerning this point? If so, what is the nature of said treaty?

If no such treaty exists, I take it for granted that proper protection will be given, [Page 1566] The thought, of the people is to thus better their condition. They hope to escape in this way some of the oppressive taxations of this Government.

I would be pleased if you would recommend to me some work that explains the various treaty relations of this Government with the United States and also with other nations.

Yours, etc.,

J. L. Barton.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 66.]

Mr. Straus to Mr. Barton.

Sir: Your communication of the 26th January has been received. You state that from Harpoot and vicinity some six hundred Turkish subjects, Armenians by race, are now in the United States and that more are about to emigrate. You further state that the thought of the people is thus to better their condition; they hope to escape in this way some of the oppressive taxation of this (Ottoman) Government. You ask to what extent these people will on their return to this Empire be protected by our Government in their rights as American citizens?

This is a question I can not assume authoritatively to answer and it had better be addressed to the Department of State. It is impossible to assume what the Government would authorize to be done in a hypothetical case. That must depend upon the specific circumstances attending each case as it arises.

For your information let me state we have no treaty of naturalization with the Ottoman Empire. Negotiations for one have been pending since 1874. In 1869 the Ottoman Government enacted a law providing that no Ottoman subject shall be permitted to divest himself of his nationality unless by and with the previous authorization of his Government. (Législation Ottomane, Vol. I, p. 7.)

A number of cases have arisen during the past few years of taxes imposed upon Ottoman subjects naturalized in America since 1869 and returning to this Empire. These taxes in many instances were paid to escape imprisonment, usually under protest. That is the status of this question at the present time. The international questions raised by this and similar laws, in the absence of a treaty of naturalization, are in my opinion not free from serious doubt and perplexities, upon which the precedents and the laws of nations vary.

So long as these citizens remain in America or in any foreign country, excepting the country of origin, they have the same rights as native citizens, provided they have not abandonded their citizenship.

But when they return to their country of origin, by reason of the circumstances stated above, there arise conflicts as to rights and obligations, which it is to be hoped will be definitely settled by a treaty of naturalization at some future time.

In 1873 several important questions affecting naturalized citizens were submitted for opinion by the President (Grant) to the several members of the Cabinet (Foreign Relations of 1873, Vol. II).

The Attorney-General, in his opinion, says: “Naturalization effected in the United States without an intent to reside permanently therein, but with a view of residing in another country and using such naturalization to evade duties and responsibilities that would otherwise attach to the naturalized person, ought to be treated by the Government of the United States as fraudulent and as imposing upon, it no obligation to protect such person; and as to this the Executive must judge from a?l the circumstances of the case.”

While I regard this as an extreme view, it nevertheless may tend to give you some light upon the subject of inquiry.

I have, etc.,

O. S. Straus.