Mr. White to Mr. Gresham.
St. Petersburg , May 19, 1893 . (Received June 3.)
Sir: I have the honor to submit the cases of David Waklenberg, and of his son Jacob, based on documents received this morning. They apply for new passports under the following circumstances:
It appears that David, the father, went to the United States forty-two years ago; that after five years’ residence he was naturalized, and that he finally left the United States in 1384. He has now resided in Poland nearly thirty years, and it is clear from the accompanying papers that he has no intention of returning to resume the rights and duties of an American citizen.
As to his son Jacob, the documents show that he was born in Poland in July, 1872; that he has never been in America, and, although he swears, in making his claim for citizenship, that he intends to “return” to the United States within two years, his letter shows clearly that he has no such intention.
Further light is thrown upon the young man’s case by the fact that although he has finished a course of study in a German university, and affixes to his name the title of doctor of philosophy, he does not appear to have prepared himself for exercising the rights and duties of an American citizen by learning the English language; both his letter and that of his father are sent to me in a translation from Warsaw.
It will be observed that the father is not molested. Our consul, Mr. Rawicz, speaks of him in very high terms as “an honest business man, well liked in the community, and really a square and upright man.”
As to the son Jacob, whom the authorities propose to exclude from Russia, the main difficulty in the case doubtless comes partly from the [Page 542] general tendency to discriminate against Jews, but mainly from the question arising as regards his evasion of military service.
I have already asked through the foreign office that the family of Mr. Waldenberg, including his sons Isidore and Jacob and his daughter Emily, shall be allowed to remain with him, stating the case as strongly as possible in their favor, asking that this permission maybe made permanent, or that as regards Jacob it may be continued at least two years, he having sworn that within that time he intends to take up his residence in the United States.
I need hardly say that in so far as any action taken against Waldenberg and his family may be actuated by prejudice of race or religion, my whole nature revolts at it and my sympathies are deeply with him; but the question which presents itself is whether there is not here an attempted prostitution of American citizenship, an attempt to secure its immunities and privileges without the discharge of its duties.
The Russians know as well as we that were this worthy man a German, and had he returned to the country of his nativity at the date of his return here he would, over twenty-five years ago, have lost his right to claim American citizenship; they also know the other weak points in the case, and especially that the animus revertendi is conspicuously absent from it.
This being the case, although my predecessor, Mr. Smith, granted passports to both these claimants two years ago, I have decided, while asking the ministry of foreign affairs to use its good offices in their favor as above stated, at the same time to ask the Department for instructions.
I have, etc.,