Mr. Blaine to Mr. Hicks.

No. 38.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 70 of January 14 last, in which you inclose a copy of a certificate of protection which you have drawn with a view to its issuance to one William Gylling, a Swedish subject who, in 1881, declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States, but never took the subsequent steps necessary for admission to citizenship.

A comparison of the certificate with your dispatch will disclose a misapprehension in regard to the effect of Mr. Gylling’s declaration of intention. It is correctly recited in the certificate that Mr. Gylling “declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States of America and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to all and any foreign prince, potentate,” etc.

In your dispatch you say:

These men [of the class of Mr. Gylling] are in a state which naturally excites their apprehension, having renounced on oath all allegiance to their native land and not having completed the formalities which entitle them to be classed as full citizens of the land of their adoption.

This statement embodies a very prevalent misapprehension in regard to the effect of a declaration of intention. That act, as its description indicates, is merely expressive of a purpose and does not have the effect either of naturalization or of expatriation. In the case of Mr. Gylling the case is made doubly clear by the treaty of naturalization between the United States and Sweden and Norway of May 26, 1869. By the first article of that treaty it is expressly provided that “the declaration of an intention to become a citizen of the one or the other country has not for either party the effect of citizenship legally acquired.”

This clause follows the provision in the same article that change of allegiance shall be effected by a 5 years’ residence and naturalization.

The Department is therefore of opinion that the certificate should not be issued to Mr. Gylling.

I am, etc.,

James G. Blaine.