Mr. Willis to Mr. Gresham.

No. 93.]

Sir: On the 1st instant I received a certified copy of the record of the trial before the military commission, on a charge of treason, of C. T. Gulick, William H. Ricard, Thomas B. Walker, and William T. Seward, which is herewith transmitted.1 Messrs. Ricard and Walker are British subjects. Mr. Gulick and Mr. Seward claim to be American citizens. This claim as to Mr. Seward is not disputed by this Government. As to Mr. Gulick, however, it is denied on the ground that he was naturalized under the Monarchy. The same question occurs in the case of J. F. Bowler, to which I have referred in my No. 88 of the 23d ultimo. The opinion of our Government upon this subject was, as therein stated, declared by Mr. Frelinghuysen in the case of P. C. Jones, citing 8 Opinions, 139: “To constitute repatriation there must be an actual removal, followed by a foreign residence, accompanied by authentic renunciation of preexisting citizenship.” A similar question was decided by Mr. Bayard in his No. 61 of September 30, 1887, who seems to have based his opinion largely upon the political conditions then existing here. Cognate inquiries have been answered by the Department in No. 63 of August 18, 1887, and No. 71 of January 5, 1888. I inclose copies of the correspondence on the subject.

These decisions, that without express renunciation of allegiance our citizens did not under the Monarchy forfeit their right to protection, seem to be borne out by the constitutional provisions of the present Government on the subject.

Section 2 of article 19 reads: “Every person receiving letters of denization shall take the oath prescribed in article 101 of this constitution, and shall thereupon be subject to all of the duties and obligations of a citizen.” The oath mentioned is “to support the constitution, laws, [Page 849] and Government of the Republic of Hawaii,” which I construe by reason of the words in italics to be equivalent to the “oath of allegiance,” the taking of which made a naturalized citizen under the Monarchy. That something more than this is necessary to absolve the citizen from his allegiance to his former government is shown by article 18, section 2, which requires of an alien desiring citizenship to take “the oath prescribed in article 101, and an oath abjuring allegiance to the government of his native land and of allegiance to “the Republic of Hawaii.”

Without undertaking to discuss the question of citizenship, I have ventured, while awaiting your instructions, to offer the above suggestions touching one phase of it. The questions other than that of citizenship I have not felt at liberty thus far to discuss with this Government.

With renewed assurance of high regard, etc.,

Albert S. Willis.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 93.]

Mr. Putnam to Mr. Porter.

No. 125.]

Sir: The new constitution of Hawaii, which was recently drawn by a committee of citizens and promulgated by the King, contains an oath which raises many inquiries by Americans here. They wish to know whether they can take the oath prescribed and retain intact their citizenship at home. The new obligation does not use the word “allegiance” as the old “denization” act did, but only requires a declaration of fealty to the constitution and laws of the Kingdom without relinquishing allegiance to their Government abroad. But does not the constitution and law practically constitute the Government; and is not an oath of fealty to them in reality fealty to the Kingdom? It is not a question as to their ability to throw off their Hawaiian citizenship on returning to their homes, as that has been settled by former decision, but as to whether the changed wording of the oath will permit them to exercise the privilege of Hawaiian citizenship here and at the same time be entitled to the protection accorded to American citizens. In short, can they be citizens of two countries at the same time?

I inclose a copy of the new oath.

I have, etc.,

J. H. Putnam
[Inclosure 2 in No. 93.]

Mr. Porter to Mr. Putnam.

No. 63.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 125, dated the 1st instant, in reference to the effect on citizens of the United States resident in the Hawaiian Islands of taking the oath of fealty promulgated as a part of the new constitution of Hawaii.

In reply you are instructed that citizens of the United States who take the said oath remain citizens of the United States and are entitled to be regarded and protected by you as such.

I am, etc.,

Jas. D. Porter,
Assistant Secretary.
[Inclosure 3 in No. 93.]

Mr. Putnam to Mr. Adee.

Sir: I have the honor to submit to the Department a question of importance in this Kingdom at the present moment. The status of American citizens here who do [Page 850] not renounce American allegiance in civil and political affairs was clearly settled by Department dispatch No. 63, of the 18th of August last, but a new feature has been introduced which attaches to the same subject. There has been a military organization in existence here for some time known as the Honolulu Rifles. It is composed largely of young Americans, and heretofore has been entirely independent of any authority of the Government. It was an active force in the recent semi revolution, although it committed no overt act as a military body, and its influence was thrown with the revolutionists. The organization now desires to become legalized and to put itself under the authority and subject to the commands of the Government, and a bill is now before the legislature having that object in view. My inquiry is whether Americans can be members of this body, subject to the military laws of this country and to the commands of its officials, and still retain American citizenship, although they have not verbally relinquished their allegiance to the United States? Or, to be terse, can Americans in foreign countries put themselves in position to be required, should emergencies occur, to support those Governments by arms, against countries with which we are at peace, or even against the United States itself?

[Inclosure 4 in No. 93.]

Mr. Rives to Mr. Putnam.

No. 71.]

Sir: In answer to the question propounded in your dispatch No. 133, I have to inform you that citizens of the United States do not lose their nationality by enlisting in foreign armies.

I am, sir, etc.,

G. L. Rives,
Assistant Secretary.
  1. Not printed.