Mr. Eustis to Mr. Gresham.
Paris, May 27, 1893. (Received June 12.)
Sir: In a disnatch numbered 154, of date February 1, Mr. Foster requested Mr. Coolidge to use his good offices in favor of Victor Poidebard, an American citizen of French birth and parentage, residing in New Jersey, who has been called for service in the French army, and received notice to join the regiment to which he was assigned.
Mr. Coolidge presented the case to the minister for foreign affairs in a dispatch dated March 22, stating fully the circumstances under which Poidebard became an American citizen.
He went to the United States at the age of 13, was naturalized first through his father and a second time when he became of age. He had also applied through the proper French legal channel for the recognition of Ins naturalization, which the law of 1889 declares void unless it is obtained with the permission of the Government. Considering that these facts plainly establish that Poidebard had not left France in order to escape military obligations, and that he was a bona fide citizen and resident of the United States, Mr. Coolidge asked that the order requiring him to perform military service in France be cancelled so that he could, should he desire to do so, visit France without being subjected to prosecution by the military authorities.
On the 3d of May, Mr. Develle replied substantially that the case had been submitted to the minister of war and that the request could not be granted. He does not discuss the circumstances of the case, and simply states that, according to the law of 1889, a person of French birth can not acquire another nationality before having complied with the military laws of France, unless he obtains from the Government permission to do so, a permission which is refused to Poidebard because it would be an encouragement to young Frenchmen to have themselves naturalized abroad, in order to escape military service in France.
With reference to the privilege of visiting France without being subjected to military prosecution, he states that Poidebard might have done so under the provision of article 50 of the law of July 15, 1889, but that having failed to do so at the time, it is now too late.
I inclose herewith a copy of Mr. Coolidge’s note and of Mr. Develle’s reply, with a translation of the same.
I have, etc.,