Mr. Wharton to Mr. Snowden.

No. 40.]

Sir: I herewith transmit copy of a dispatch No. 294 of the 1st instant, from the United States consul at Patras, in relation to the subjection of Emmanuel C. Catechi, an American citizen, to military service in the army of Greece.

The facts of the case are fully and clearly detailed by Mr. Woodley, the United States consular agent at Corfu, in his report to Mr. Hancock. For present convenience they may be briefly summarized.

Emmanuel C. Catechi was born in the island of Merlera, Corfu, on or about March 15, 1858. He came to this country in 1872, when 14 years old. He was naturalized in California on the 16th of April, 1879, being then 21 years old. He visited Corfu in 1885, provided with a passport as a citizen of the United States, which was issued to him by the Department November 17, 1884. A few months after his return thither he was conscripted for military service, his name being found in the local conscription list; but on his alien citizenship being shown he was released. In 1886 he was again conscripted, and, on repeated proof of his American citizenship, again released. He thereupon petitioned to have his name stricken from the conscription list Judicial proceedings to that end were had, resulting in the imposition of 8 days’ imprisonment and costs on the charge of changing his citizenship without prior permission of the Government of Greece. He then remained unmolested until May, 1890, when he was again arrested and forced to enter the military service. The consular agent at Corfu intervened, producing proofs of Catechi’s citizenship, but the local authorities, finding, as they alleged, his name still on the conscription list, referred the case to Athens for instructions; and pending action thereon, Catechi is still held to service. It would seem that the identity of Emmanuel C. Catechi is confounded with that of Emmanuel A. Catechi, a delinquent conscript, of whose status this Department is not informed. Without raising, at present, the question as to the liability of Catechi to punishment for changing his allegiance without permission (a doctrine against which this Government is ever disposed to expostulate), it is clear that in the case before us the court of Greece, administering Greek law, adjudged his liability in a process brought before it at the voluntary suit of Catechi himself, and that he did, in fact, submit to the judgment and extinguish the penalty. The purpose of his suit was to cause his name to be expunged from the conscription list, thus relieving him from further call. Similar proceedings are often reported to this Department [Page 512] under French law, the result being a judgment that the party forfeits French citizenship, and thereby becomes exempt from liability to military service. The case in Greece is presumed to follow the same rule. The reason and equity of the judicial proceeding under which Catechi was punished in 1885 would not be apparent if his subjection to military duty survived unaltered and his name remained on the conscription list.

Mr. Woodley, however, asserts that Emmanuel C. Catechus name has been, in fact, “already erased from the original catalogue of his district.”

Without, therefore, undertaking to suggest that the case may be one of mistaken identity, and that this unfortunate man may be found to have been held to perform the service due from the delinquent Emmanuel A. Catechi, it is proper to instruct you to forthwith address the minister for foreign affairs of Greece, asking the immediate release of Emmanuel C. Catechi from military service on the grounds of his American citizenship and of his legal exemption under the judgment of 1885; and that steps be taken to prevent his further molestation on this ground.

I am, etc.,

William F. Wharton,
Acting Secretary.
[Inclosure in No. 40.]

Mr. Hancock to Mr. Wharton.

No. 294.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit you herewith copy of a dispatch I have received from Mr. Thomas Woodley, United States consular agent at Corfu, relative to the case of a certain Emmanuel C. Catechi, a native of the islet of Merlera, near the island of Corfu, and belonging to that district, who emigrated to the United States in 1872 and became a citizen of the United States, as per act of naturalization of fourth district court of State of California in and for the city and county of San Francisco (No. 225, B. 49, 16 April, 1879), and who returned to Corfu in 1885, where he has since lived, and, as you will see from the consular agent’s dispatch, has on several occasions claimed his protection as an American citizen. He has now, however, been compelled to serve as a soldier, and, although the consular agent has represented the case to the local authorities, is still retained as such, and the consular agent now begs me, through the legatiou, to take the necessary steps to have him released from military service. As the minister resident is at present absent, I beg you will instruct me what steps, if any, I am to take in the matter.

I am, etc.,

E. Hancock.

Mr. Woodley to Mr. Hancock.

No. 223.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your dispatches Nos. 811 and 812, dated August 25, and to bring to your knowledge that Mr. Emmanuel C. Catechi, a native of the island of Merlera, in the district of Corfu, left for America in 1872, when only 14 years of age, and established himself in California. After having resided there? years he made his application to obtain American citizenship, which he obtained on the 16th of April, 1879, as proved by the inclosed act of naturalization, on which day he had completed the 21 years of his age.

In 1885 he returned to Corfu, and after a few months had elapsed from his return the Greek Government, having adopted compulsory conscription of all persons up to [Page 513] 27 years of age, and finding Catechi’s name inserted in the catalogue of the local government, he was called upon and brought by military escort from his island to enter the military service.

As soon as informed by him of this fact, I addressed a dispatch to the prefect, dated 14–26 December, 1885, in which I inclosed Catechi’s passport and copy of the act of naturalization, by which I requested his exoneration from the military service.

The prefect sent the said documents to Athens, and, assuring himself of the true, naturalization, issued instructions to the competent military authorities, and said Catechi was released; but, having omitted to withdraw Catechi’s name from the catalogue, in 1886 he was again required to enter the military service. I had to protest a second time, and he was again released.

Catechi then, in order to avoid any repetition of the annoyance, formally petitioned that his name should be erased from the catalogue, he being an American subject, and it was found necessary that the case should be brought before the judicial courts in consequence of his having at the time changed citizenship without first obtaining the permission from the Greek Government, as prescribed by the Greek law.

For this infringement of the law the court, taking into consideration that when Catechi left for America he was quite young and that at California there was no Greek consul to inform him of the, laws of this country, sentenced Catechi to the lowest penalty of 8 days’ imprisonment and to the payment of the costs, as results from the sentence No. 201 of the year 1886 and from the payment voucher of costs No. 95.

Since that time Catechi remained unmolested up to 1890, when in May of this year he was arrested, brought before the military authorities, and there forced to enter the service, although he protested, not being allowed to see or inform his consul.

As soon as I was informed of the occurrence, I immediately made my representation to the prefect and sent him—

Copy of Catechi’s birth certificate, by which it was evident that he was born in 1858, and consequently in 1879, when he obtained the American citizenship, he had completed his 21 years of age.
Certificate from the mayor of Merlera, by which it was proved that when Catechi left Greece for America he was 14 years of age,
Copy of the sentence No. 201.
A certificate from his mayor, obtained in this last occasion, declaring that he was recognized by him as a naturalized American citizen, and that his name was withdrawn from the catalogue of Merlera.

The prefect, as president of the conscription committee, informed the military committee that Emmanuel C. Catechi was a naturalized American citizen, but the latter authority, finding that in the old catalogue, which they had in their office, unfortunately Catechi’s name existed, and as they were in search of another Emmanuel A, Catechi, of the same place (while the American subject is Emmanuel C. Catechi), they sent the documents to the war office at Athens.

The prefect, Count A. P. Metaxa, immediately telegraphed to Athens, wrote several times on the subject, and clearly declared that Emmanuel C. Catechi was illegally kept as a soldier, but from what I can make out the Government at Athens is under some wrong impression regarding this affair.

Now, notwithstanding that the authorities have in hand all the documents relative to the American citizenship of Emmanuel C. Catechi, still they keep him unreasonably in the military ranks to the great disadvantage of his interests.

I therefore have the honor to beg of you to take the needful measures, through the United States legation at Athens, that said Catechi be exonerated from the military service once for all, as the man’s name is already erased from the original catalogue of his district.

I have, etc.,

Thos. Woodley.