Mr. Bayard to Mr. Merrill.
Washington, September 30, 1887.
Sir: Your No. 134 of the 25th of July last in reference to an oath required of foreign residents in the Islands is received.
This question was brought to the notice of the Department by Mr. Putnam in his No. 125 of the 1st ultimo, and in reply he was instructed on the 18th ultimo that citizens of the United States who take the oath of fealty prescribed by the new constitution of Hawaii remain citizens of the United States, and are entitled to be regarded and treated as such by our consular and diplomatic officers.
That such a result is contemplated by the Hawaiian Government appears evident from the last sentence of the oath, which reads:
Not here by renouncing, but expressly reserving all allegiance and citizenship now owing or held by me.
This Department is informed that the oath is indiscriminately required of citizens of other nations, who are nevertheless understood by their own governments to retain their nationality of origin. Inasmuch, also, as this oath is a requisite condition for exercising any political privileges on the Island, it is evident that a refusal on the part of this Government of the assent to taking it granted by other Governments to their citizens would result in the destruction of any political power previously possessed by our citizens and its transfer to citizens of other assenting nations.[Page 1169]
The Department therefore desires that you will consider the above instruction as addressed to yourself and that you will relieve the minds of all bona fide American citizens who while honestly desiring to retain their American nationality are, in order to obtain the privileges necessary for a residence in the Islands, obliged under local law to take an oath to support the constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
I am, etc.,