Mr. Blaine to Mr. Hicks .
Washington , May 8, 1890.
Sir: Your dispatch No. 104 of March 24 last has been received. You therein refer to the case of William Gylling, heretofore the subject of correspondence. While acting in pursuance of the Department’s decision (No. 38, February 26, 1890) that Mr. Gylling is not a citizen of the United States, you renew your suggestion that some sort of protection should, if not positively prohibited by law, be extended to the class of people to which Mr. Gylling belongs, and of which you say there is a large number in Lima alone. It is observed that in the course of your remarks you recur to the view heretofore expressed by you that the oath taken by aliens who declare their intention to become citizens of the United States is an act “by which they renounce all allegiance to their native land forever.”
In regard to this, the Department has only to repeat what was stated in its No. 38, namely, that the declaration of intention is not a renunciation of, but merely the expression of a purpose to renounce, the declarant’s original allegiance. The actual renunciation is not effected until the applicant is subsequently admitted to citizenship. (Sec. 2165, Rev. Stats., second paragraph.)
The naturalization laws of the United States are framed upon the theory that there is some connection between residence in a country and the acquisition of a right to its protection. Hence they provide a probationary period during which the applicant, by residence in the land of intended adoption, by acquiring interests therein, by good moral conduct, and by familiarizing himself with, and attaching himself to, its constitutional methods, shall fit himself for a faithful and loyal assumption of the duties of citizenship, and thus, as a member of our free society, support the Government whose protection is in return extended to him. Accordingly, it is required that he shall first make a declaration of intention to become a citizen and afterwards undergo a probation, not only to prepare him for naturalization, but also to test the quality and steadfastness of his purpose before his admission to citizenship.
The object of the law was to make citizenship a substantial thing, and to require the performance of acts indicative of true faith and allegiance as the condition of its acquisition. The law is so clear on [Page 696] this subject that there does not appear to be room for controversy. And, in further execution of this purpose, it is provided that passports shall not be granted or issued to, or verified for, any other persons than citizens of the United States (Rev. Stats., sec. 4076). It is not easy to discover, therefore, the grounds upon which the privileges of citizenship can be claimed by persons who are not citizens. The conditions of the acquisition of citizenship being clearly stated in the law, the reason by which a person can claim the right of citizenship when he has deliberately omitted to perform the conditions is by no means apparent. Nor is it less difficult to perceive upon what theory a government can be held bound to protect persons who are not only not its citizens, but who have not exhibited a willingness to live long enough within its jurisdiction to acquire its citizenship. Where a person after making a declaration of intention, instead of remaining in the United States and becoming duly naturalized, abandons the country and remains abroad, it must be inferred that he has also abandoned his intention. Take, for example, the case of Gylling, out of which the present correspondence has grown. The precise duration of his residence in the United States is not known, but it was evidently short. He made his declaration of intention in 1881, and not long afterwards appears to have left the United States. Almost twice the probationary period required for admission to citizenship after the date of first arrival in the United States has elapsed since he made his declaration; but he has never performed the conditions of naturalization, and consequently has never been admitted as a citizen. Indeed, by going and remaining abroad he continuously disables himself from fulfilling those conditions. To say that such a person is entitled to the protection of the United States is merely to set aside the statutes and discard citizenship altogether as a test of the right to claim protection. Those who refuse to attach themselves to the United States can not complain if this Government does not consider itself bound to exert its power in their behalf. Professions of allegiance, however ardent, have, it is proper to say, little weight where the conduct of the individual refutes them. The Department is at a loss to understand why persons in the position of Mr. Gylling “naturally look,” as you observe, “to the American legation for a recognition of their citizenship,” when the piece of paper they carry discloses that they are not American citizens and their conduct shows that they are not endeavoring to become such.
It is not deemed necessary to enter into the discussion of questions of domicile, or of the rights which may pertain to that status. The present observations are confined to the general class to which your dispatch relates.
I am, etc.,