Mr. McDonald to Mr. Gresham.

No. 36.]

Sir: I have the honor to submit herewith a copy of note sent by me to the prime minister, as per your dispatch No. 16, correcting Mr. Sperry’s misinterpretation of your instructions in No. 33 in regard to the Hajie Seyyah case.

I am, etc.,

Alex. McDonald.
[Page 506]
[Inclosure in No. 36.]

Mr. McDonald to the prime minister.

Your Highness: I am instructed by the Department of State to inform you that a copy of Mr. Sperry’s note addressed to you on the 21st of July last with reference to the case of Hajie Seyyah has been received.

In Mr. Sperry’s communication to your highness he refers to instructions which he had just received from the Department relative to this subject; but from a careful consideration of the terms of the dispatch of the Secretary of State, and the light thrown on it by the letter which I have just received, there can be no doubt that Mr. Sperry misunderstood the instructions addressed to him on the 17th of May.

The Department did not decide whether Hajie Seyyah had lost his United States citizenship, still less whether he had reverted to his original nationality. Furthermore, in the absence of evidence that Hajie Seyyah had bona fide conserved American citizenship he could not be regarded as entitled to the protection of the United States while continuing to dwell in the land of his origin. Naturalization being a judicial act the executive branch is not competent to annul a decree of naturalization, and can not declare forfeiture of citizenship in the absence of legislation to that end. In view of this circumstance it will be evident to your highness that Mr. Sperry is in error when he asserts, as in the first paragraph of his note, “that the Government of the United States has decided that Hajie Seyyah is not a citizen of the United States;” and also further on, where he concludes, after a quotation from the dispatch in question, that “my Government decides that Hajie Seyyah is not a citizen of the United States, on the ground that the rights which he acquired by receiving a certificate of naturalization from a court of the United States have been lost because he never made any use of those rights. The rights acquired by him in the United States would be good if he had used them, but not having used them he has lost them, and therefore he is now as much a subject of His Imperial Majesty as he would have been if he had never stepped across the Persian frontier.”

Your highness will, I am sure, readily admit that the quotation in question hardly justifies Mr. Sperry’s interpretation, and at the utmost can only be construed as an exposition of the law and situation, and that there is no abrogation by the Government of the naturalization of Hajie Seyyah. When the Secretary of State remarks that he has “no hesitancy in regarding as unworthy the claim of Hajie Seyyah to be protected as a person who has bona fide discharged the reciprocal duties of American citizenship, however lawful be the act of his naturalization,” from which Mr. Sperry probably drew his conclusion, his excellency does not decree that Hajie Seyyah had forfeited his citizenship, which would have been an assumption of power that the laws of the United States have not delegated to him; but that Hajie Seyyah’s claim to protection in Persia could not under the circumstances be entertained.

Your highness will, therefore, be pleased to observe that the Secretary of State does not decide whether Hajie Seyyah is or is not a citizen of the United States, but merely that my predecessor was not justified in giving to him the protection of the legation.

Notwithstanding its being my duty to point out the error into which my predecessor has fallen in this matter, yet it is the utmost satisfaction to me to feel that I can join with him in the belief that the close friendship which has existed so long between Persia and the United States will be ever increased and perpetuated.

I take, etc.,

Alex. McDonald.