Mr. Uhl to Mr. Olney.

No. 70.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt to-day of your instruction, No. 72, of the 3d instant, inclosing a letter from Mr. Hermann A. E. C. Mueller, of Providence, R. I., in which he asks certain questions regarding his liabilities should he return to Germany on a visit.

As Mr. Mueller has resided for five years uninterruptedly in the United States and as he has there become naturalized as a citizen, he is, according to the Bancroft treaty of February 22, 1868, entitled to be treated as an American citizen, it being presumed that before his emigration he committed no act punishable by the laws of his original country for which he remains liable to trial and punishment. No guarantee can, however, be given, and no assurance can be obtained in advance, that he would be allowed to make a prolonged visit at his native place, particularly if the authorities of the State shall be convinced that he left Germany for the purpose of escaping the performance of military duty.

It appears that he emigrated at the age of 19 years.

Count Herbert Bismarck, who was imperial secretary of state for foreign affairs at the time, in his note to Mr. Pendleton under date of January 6, 1886, when the cases of S. M. Boysen and others were under consideration (see dispatch No. 154, of January 6, 1886), said inter alia:

The Prussian authorities are convinced that all of those persons emigrated solely for the purpose of withdrawing themselves from the performance of military duty. If such persons were permitted, after they have acquired American citizenship, and while appealing to this change of nationality, to sojourn again according to their pleasure, unhindered, for a shorter or longer period in their native land, furtherance would thereby be given to similar endeavors, and respect for those laws would be endangered upon which is based the general liability to military service, one of the most [Page 215] essential and important foundations of our state life. Solely on this account, and not as a sort of punishment for evasion of military duty, has the expulsion of those persons been decreed, after a period of sojourn, amply sufficient under the circumstances, had been accorded them.

In Germany it is the practice of the local authorities to keep records of the birth and whereabouts of all residents, and it is the duty of every German, upon changing his residence, to inform the authorities of both his old and new homes of the fact. In this way the record is kept complete and up to date. From time to time notices are issued for all males of a certain age to report for examination as to fitness for military service. If after a certain time anyone has not reported, judgment—usually of fine and (or) imprisonment—is taken against him, and this judgment is executed whenever possible, and it is this which is the cause of the frequent so-called “military cases.” If any person satisfies the local authorities that he has acquired another nationality, or if he has lost his German nationalty in any way—as by obtaining a release from his former allegiance—his name is taken off the list of those liable for military service, or the judgment is canceled, as the case may be, and there would be no special cause for anxiety on his return to Germany on a visit, though he might be permitted to remain but a short time at his native place, or in that particular State of which he formerly was a subject.

According to section 1 of the law of June 1, 1870, of the North German Union, in regard to the acquisition and loss of federal and state allegiance, which law was in 1871 extended to the German Empire (see law of April 22, 1871), federal (German) nationality is acquired through the acquisition of nationality in any of the federated States, and is lost with the loss of such nationality.

Mr. Mueller having, as shown by the certificate of the Mecklenburg authorities, a translation of which accompanied his letter, lost his local allegiance through a residence abroad of more than ten years (sec. 13, 3 of the law above referred to) he is no longer a German subject, and this fact again, as shown by the certificate mentioned, has become a matter of record. In his case, therefore, there is less reason to anticipate trouble on his return to Germany on a visit than there is in the case of the average German-American who has not thought it worth while to notify the local authorities at his former home of the fact that he has become a citizen of the United States.

I have, etc.,

Edwin F. Uhl.