Mr. Breckinridge to Mr. Olney.

No. 179.]

Sir: Your dispatch No. 138, of the 4th instant, relating to the case of Mr. Anton Yablkowski and to the question of expatriation was duly received.

Heretofore it has been thought that it was best to proceed quietly with cases of this kind in the interest of the unfortunate men, and that the Russian Government was disposed to deal gently with such as came from the United States. That was the policy at the time I came to this legation.

In accordance with this, the legation has always looked for extenuating circumstances to afford ground for the exercise of the supposed desire for clemency. The Russian Government also seemed indisposed to squarely assert its real ground of action.

The foregoing has clearly come to an end on both sides. We see, after long and varied tests, that the Russian Government is resolute to punish our people as well as others, and it no longer hesitates to state its law and avow its policy.

There is no hope, then, for any man guilty as charged except to attack the principle upon which all such charges are founded.

In accordance with the dispatch now under consideration, and the foregoing conviction as to the impolicy of further delay, I to-day addressed a note to Prince Lobanow upon the general question of expatriation. A copy of this note is inclosed. In that I express the Government’s desire for a settlement by a convention or some sort of an agreement. This action is respectfully submitted.

[Page 1109]

In order to complete your record to date upon this subject, which promises to be a long one, I herewith inclose copies of the following communications:

Note from Mr. Peirce, while chargé, on October 16, to Prince Lobanow; reply of Prince Lobanow to that note, dated October 28/November 9, and addressed to me; letter from Mr. Joseph Rawicz, our consul at Warsaw, of November 7, and also of November 14.

In his first letter the consul says it is proven that Yablkowski was born in Russia. That seems to dispose of his claim, as shown in his application for a passport, that he is a native of Prussia.

In his second letter he makes some suggestions about warning our citizens subject to this trouble of the difficulties they are likely to encounter. This, I was verbally informed by Baron Sacken, of the foreign office, extends to their descendants born abroad, without any limit as to degree of descent. I warmly approve of the consul’s suggestions as greatly needed by such persons who may contemplate visiting this country.

In regard to Prince Lobanow’s note to me in reply to the note of the chargé, previously referred to, I think his excellency is lacking in courtesy. I formally acknowledged its receipt, but have made no further response to it, referring to a previous note from the ministry stating the case in my note to him to-day.

I have, etc.,

Clifton R. Breckinridge.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 179.]

Mr. Peirce to Prince Lobanow .

[The same as inclosure 3 in No. 157, printed on page 1105.]

[Inclosure 2 in No. 179.—Translation.]

Prince Lobanow to Mr. Breckinridge.

Mr. Minister: I have duly received the note of October 4/16, in which the legation of the United States desires to refer to the affair concerning the proceedings commenced against a certain Yablkowski, for having abandoned Russian nationality without permission of the Imperial Government

Inasmuch as the legation is kind enough to again precise the argument formulated in the preceding communication, which it judged had not been sufficiently correctly reproduced in the ministerial note of October 3/15, I shall have the honor to answer it, however light and imperceptible the shade between the two propositions appears to me.

The legation affirms that the Government of the United States could not consent to accept as a crime the action of becoming a naturalized American citizen, in conformity with laws and inside the sphere of jurisdiction of the United States.

I regret that I am not able to share your manner of seeing, inasmuch as it concerns a crime committed against Russian law by an individual who had not been released of his liens of subjection at the time he [Page 1110] embraced another nationality. He formally violated this law by not seeking the permission of his Government.

If the administrative authorities of the Empire had been acquainted with this fact during the time Mr. Yablkowski was abroad he would have been, according to law, condemned by default to perpetual banishment. But whereas, in this case, the Russian law would only have attainted him in fact and in right in this manner, it had to apply another more rigorous disposition once he returned to his original country and the infraction was proved.

Having delivered himself to the Russian law for crime committed against it, which he should not have been ignorant of, the Russian authorities legitimately arrested him, and he could not escape the proceedings to which he was liable.

With regard to the visé affixed by the Russian consular authority on the passport in the possession of Mr. Yablkowski, it does not change the question in any manner whatever.

As I have already tried to explain in my preceding communication, our consul-general at Dantzig was unaware that the passport which was presented to him for visé had been delivered to an individual who had abandoned Russian subjection without permission. But even if the antecedents of Yablkowski had been known, our consular authority, far from refusing Yablkowski the faculty to enter Russia, if he asked for it, would have been in the right and in the obligation to deliver him a passport or certificate ad hoc which placed him in a measure to satisfy on Russian territory the proceedings to which he was liable under the Russian law.

As to the question as to whether Yablkowski is at liberty to leave Russia, I beg to refer you to my communication of October 3, No. 8250, in which I have the honor to inform the legation that this individual is actually in liberty, but as he is under judicial proceedings in Russia, it therefore naturally results that the local authorities could not under these circumstances allow him to leave Russian territory.

In the hope that the foregoing explanation will, Mr. Minister, convince you of the proper manner of action of our authorities in these circumstances.

I avail myself, etc.,

[Inclosure 3 in No. 179.]

Mr. Rawicz to Mr. Peirce.

Sir: Referring to your last communication, answered by my letter, No. 1557, of 2d instant, I beg to report to you the result of the personal investigation by the secretary of the consulate on the ground, i. e., in the city of Nieszawa.

Anton Yablkowski is answering presently from free port, and the investigation of his case is led by the examiner in the county seat, Nieszawa. A. Yablkowski surrendered his United States passport to the police officer at precinct Buszkowo, and is now living at Polaiewo Slave, in said precinct.

It was proven that he was born in this country; that he left for America seven years ago, when 21 years of age, and was therefore subject to the military service. Said Anton Yablkowski was naturalized in the United States, and on the 7th day of December, 1894, a United [Page 1111] States passport was issued to him at Washington, bearing the number 18144.

All the papers concerning the case will be forwarded in about three weeks to the prosecuting attorney at Wloclawek, where he will answer to the charge of becoming a citizen of the United States without the permission of this Government, according to section 325 of Code of Punishment, which is as follows:

Whoever, after leaving this country, shall enter into the military service in another country without the permission of this Government, or shall become a citizen of another country, will, for breaking his allegiance and oath, be punished “by the loss of all the rights of the Suite and the expulsion from the country forever, and in case he should return of his free will to Russia he shall be sent to Siberia to settle there forever.

I shall watch and report the progress of the proceedings of said case.

From time to time such cases occur. Those who leave this country naturalize themselves in the United States, and, not knowing the law on this subject, and consequently not being aware of the peril, return for a visit or on business to their old home, where, according to said section 325 of Code of Punishment, they are arrested. As they thus place themselves and also the American authorities here into trouble, I beg leave to suggest that some publications be made throughout the different States of the Union, and that by issuing small notices on the subject they may be attached to each passport issued by the Department of State to each .Russian-born petitioner, whereby the citizens and the authorities of the Union will be saved.

Yours, etc.,

Joseph Rawicz,
United States Consul.
[Inclosure 4 in No. 179.]

Mr. Rawicz to Mr. Peirce.

Sir: Referring to my communication of the 7th instant, No. 1558, M. C., in re Anton Yablkowski, I have the honor to report to the United States legation that to-day I have been again summoned in consular capacity before the examining judge of the seventh division of the district court of Warsaw, where I had to answer to the following interrogatories:

By what right was Anton Yablkowski made a citizen of the United States before being released from the subjection of this Government?
How long must a man live in the United States to have the right to become a citizen of the Union?
What forms and formalities are required for the admission of foreigners to United States citizenship?

To the above I have given the following answers:

Anton Yablkowski became a citizen of the United States by virtue of the Constitution of the United States.
A foreigner wishing to become a citizen of the United States must live five years in the Union; in that, two years in one State and six months in a city, then he will be entitled to the citizenship of the United States.
A foreigner must first declare his intention to become a citizen of the United States; then, when he has lived a sufficient time in the country, [Page 1112] he must appear before the open court, with two witnesses to testify to his integrity, where he takes the oath of allegiance and promises to support the Constitution of the United States, after which he is recorded in the books as a citizen of the Union, with all rights and privileges, the same as an American born, with the exception of the right to be a candidate to the chair of the President of the United States.

Communicating the above to you, I am, etc.,

Joseph Rawicz,
United States Consul.
[Inclosure 5 in No. 179.]

Mr. Breckinridge to Prince Lobanow.

Your Excellency: Referring to the ministerial note of October 3/15, in which this legation was kindly furnished with the text of the Russian law which applies to naturalized Americans of Russian origin, I now have the honor to communicate to you more fully the position and wishes of my Government in regard to all matters arising under that law.

In the first place, my Government recognizes with sincere regret the differences which have arisen between it and the Imperial Government in this connection, and it greatly desires to negotiate some form of an agreement, creditable alike to both countries and befitting their traditional friendship, to remove this notable cause of difference.

Heretofore cases arising under this head have been rare, or they have assumed other and less objectionable aspects, but the improved means of transportation, and the steady increase in the United States of persons of this class, as well as the pending cases, admonish all that the two Governments will be more definitely and frequently in contact in this painful particular unless some friendly and suitable adjustment can be reached.

Our experience with other Governments leads us to hope for a satisfactory settlement in this instance. At an early stage of our national existence we held that every sovereign state had an indefeasible right to prescribe and apply the conditions under which an alien, being within its territorial jurisdiction, may be admitted to citizenship, and the legislation of the United States has proceeded upon this theory. For many years the nations of Europe generally disputed our claim, and held to the doctrine of perpetual allegiance. This contention has now been abandoned by all except the Imperial Government and Turkey; and the Turkish Government does not go so far as to assert in practice a claim to punish a Turk for acquiring any other nationality.

To show more precisely the position of my Government, and how unfortunate must be the effect upon the good relations we are so anxious to conserve, I beg to inclose herewith a copy of sections 1999, 2000, and 2001 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, which, of course, are obligatory upon the Executive.

Trusting that these expressions may be received in the very friendly spirit in which they are offered,

I avail myself, etc.,

Clifton R. Breckinridge.