Mr. Blaine to Mr. Reid.
Washington, October 30, 1891.
Sir: Your dispatch No. 428, of the 8th instant, in relation to the question of the right of Mr. John Maurice Hubbard to elect American citizenship on coming of age, has been received.
The facts, as they are represented to the Department, are as follows:
John Maurice Hubbard is the son of Gorham Eustis Hubbard, a citizen of the United States, now residing in the United States, who is said to have been at one time consul of the United States at a Haitian port, although no record of such appointment is here found. Whether he was in fact a consul there, as stated, is however immaterial to what follows. It suffices to know that while abroad he, an American citizen, married the daughter of a citizen of Haiti.
John Maurice Hubbard was born at Havre, France, during the sojourn of his parents at that place.
Some years ago the elder Hubbard procured a divorce from his wife, and she went to France to live with her mother, who had returned thither. The latter, dying some years since, left some property to her grandchildren, one of whom was John Maurice Hubbard. The French Probate courts decided that the minor grandchildren to whom her property descended were American citizens, and that it was necessary to have a guardian appointed in the United States to receive the property. Mr. Robert M. Thompson, of New York, was so appointed and received the property. On several occasions since then Mr. Thompson has exercised the duties of guardian, conformably to French requirements as regards the acts or status of his minor wards, still living in France.
John Maurice Hubbard, one of the wards aforesaid, is yet a minor, but will soon come of age.
By the French law of citizenship a person born in France of alien parents and 4om|ciIeci in France at the time of reaching majority is allowed [Page 494] one year after reaching majority to elect to retain the citizenship of his parents. In default of so doing, at the expiration of that period and if retaining French domicile, he is to be deemed a citizen of France. It is therefore evident that the acquirement of French citizenship is optional, not obligatory, and that the interested party, on becoming sui juris is, in any event, as free to choose his citizenship as his domicile.
By the statutes of the United States Mr. Hubbard is by birth an American citizen. His right, however, to claim the protection of this Government abroad may be affected by the lawful claims of the Government within whose jurisdiction he was born. It depends also upon those considerations which prevail in the case of any citizen of the United States who takes up his residence in a foreign country. If he desires a passport, he should prove to the legation, as is requisite in such cases, that he has a fixed purpose to come to this country within a reasonable time with the intent of making it his permanent home.
John Maurice Hubbard’s intentions in regard to his future domicile are not stated 5 but, from the circumstance of his resorting to the procedure prescribed by French law to legalize his status as an alien continuing his residence in France, it may be inferred that Mr. Hubbard intends to keep up his present domicile beyond the year following his coming of age. If this be so, the interest which this Government would have in assuring his claim to American citizenship for the purpose of indefinite residence abroad is not apparent. Both international and statutory law in this relation aim to insure to the Government of which the party claims to be a citizen the right and free opportunity to exact of him the fulfillment of the duties of citizenship, as much as to secure to the party the enjoyment of the rights and privileges of citizenship. The relation to be established is reciprocal, involving the allegiance of the person to the state which protects him, as well as the obligation of the state to protect him while he shall bear true faith and allegiance to it.
It rests, therefore, with Mr. Hubbard to determine his status on becoming sui juris. If he in good faith purposes to take up his abode in the United States and here perform the duties and enjoy the benefits of citizenship, he has clearly the right to do so and to be aided therein by his Government. But, if it be his purpose to remain indefinitely abroad, it is not incumbent upon this Government to assist him to evade the obligations of citizenship here and of domicile in France.
It appears that the consul at Havre has supplied Mr. Hubbard with documentary evidence to justify his claim to be a citizen of the United States, and that such evidence may suffice to determine his status as an alien under the French law you quote. It is desirable that the nature of the consul’s intervention should be ascertained, and Mr. Williams will be called upon to report fully what he has done in the premises.
Should Mr. Hubbard resort again to the legation after attaining legal age, you will satisfy yourself as to his intentions respecting his future domicile, and; should it appear that he purposes in good faith to perform the duties of citizenship, a passport may be issued to him. The Department sanctions no other evidence of citizenship than this. But if it shall appear that Mr. Hubbard has no fixed intent to dwell in the United. States, you will treat his case precisely as any other where the conduct of the applicant suggests a voluntary abandonment of the rights of protection claimed by him, and will withhold a passport.
I am, etc.,