Mr. Uhl to Mr. Sherman.

No. 301.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith the correspondence had with the Imperial German foreign office, in the matter of the impressment into the German army of Alfred Meyer.

The intervention on behalf of Meyer was made on the 31st of December last, the day following the receipt of a communication from the United States consulate at Hamburg, informing the embassy that he had been impressed into the German army, and in the absence of any reply to my first note, I again brought the subject to the attention of Baron von Marschall, in notes of February 1,11, and 20, and of March 5, and, in addition to these written communications, I called in person at the foreign office on or about the 26th ultimo, and urged upon his excellency the importance of an early reply to the representations before made in writing.

It will be observed that Meyer was born in Baltimore on December 16, 1875, that he is unable to furnish any evidence that his father, who was born in Prussia, ever became an American citizen; and that his father returned to Germany in 1879, taking his son with him, where he afterwards resided until the time of his death.

The conclusion of the German Government is that the fact that Meyer was born abroad does not alter his legal status, and that according to German law he possesses the nationality which he inherited from his father; that is to say, that he is a Prussian subject, and that if through the fact of his birth at Baltimore he acquired American citizenship according to American law, he possesses a double nationality, and consequently is bound to perform the obligations to both countries, as well to Germany as to the United States, which are put upon him by the laws of both these countries, and that the Prussian Government does not find itself in a position to comply with the request that he be discharged.

I have the honor, etc.,

Edwin F. Uhl.
[Page 195]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 301.]

Mr. Uhl to Baron Marschall.

F. O. 145.]

The undersigned, ambassador, etc., of the United States of America, has the honor to invite the attention of His Excellency Baron Marsehall von Bieberstein, Imperial secretary of state for foreign affairs, to the case of one Alfred Meyer, a native citizen of the United States, lately impressed into the Prussian military service.

The facts of the case as presented to the embassy are as follows:

Alfred Meyer was born at Baltimore, Md., December 16, 1875, as is shown by the certificate of birth herewith inclosed, with the request for its ultimate return. His father, Moritz Meyer, a naturalized American citizen, was borne at Pinne, near Posen, in 1839, emigrated to the United States, but returned to Germany (Colmar, Al.) in 1880, bringing with him his son Alfred. His father died in 1889 and his mother in 1894, at Burg, near Madgeburg. He was impressed into the Prussian military service on October 1 last, although he protested against it, claiming that he was a citizen of the United States, and is now serving in the First Company Eighty-fifth Regiment of Infantry (Duke of Holstein’s), at Reudsburg. The undersigned has the honor to request that his excellency will kindly cause an immediate investigation of this case, and should the facts be found to be substantially as stated that Meyer will be at once discharged from military service.

The undersigned avails himself, etc.,

Edwin F. Uhl.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 301.—Translation.]

Baron Marschall to Mr. Uhl.

The undersigned has the honor to inform his excellency, the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the United States of America, Mr. Edwin F. Uhl, in regard to the impressment of Alfred Meyer into the German army, which was last referred to in the note verbale of the 24th ultimo, and while returning Meyer’s birth certificate, as follows:

The intervention which was made in behalf of Meyer, in the note of December 31, 1896—(F. O. 145)—is based upon the presumption that his father, Moritz Meyer, who was born at Pinne, near Posen, and died in Colmar, had acquired American citizenship through naturalization during his sojourn in the United States. As yet this presumption has not been proved to be correct. Neither the son, Alfred Meyer, nor his uncle and former guardian, Hermann Meyer, a merchant at present living at Colmar, has any knowledge of the naturalization of Moritz Meyer. According to their statements, he emigrated from Germany in 1872, and went to Baltimore, where a son was born to him. In 1879 he left the United States of America, taking his son with him, and returned to Germany, and from that time until the time of his death he lived in Colmar. He, therefore, retained his Prussian nationality, which he had in the beginning, until the time of his death, without having, as far as can be ascertained, acquired any other nationality.

As Alfred Meyer has also lived in Germany since 1879, and was only temporarily in Switzerland in 1895, the conclusion must be drawn [Page 196] that, according to German law, he possesses the nationality which he inherited from his father; that is to say, that he is a Prussian subject. The fact that he was born abroad does not alter the case. If through the fact of his birth in Baltimore he acquired American citizenship according to American law, he possesses a double nationality, and consequently is bound to perform the obligations to both countries, as well to Germany as to the United States of America, which are put upon him by the laws of both of these countries.

As was stated in the note of the 15th of January, 1886, in the case of Henry Rabien, which, if not exactly the same, is still similar under existing circumstances, the treaty of February 22, 1868, on the subject of nationality, has no application to the case of Alfred Meyer, as in this case it has not been proved that the father, Moritz Meyer, had become a naturalized citizen of the United States of America at the time of the birth of his son.

It was, therefore, right that Alfred Meyer should be called upon to serve in the German army, and the Prussian Government does not find itself in a position to comply with the request that he be discharged.

The undersigned, while promising a further communication in regard to the case of Casimir Hartmann, which was also referred to in the note verbale of the 24th ultimo, as the investigation in regard to his impressment into the Second Hessian Infantry Regiment, No. 82, is not yet completed, avails himself, etc.,

Marschall.

Note.—A copy of the note in the case of Henry Rabien, referred to above, was sent to the Department in Mr. Pendleton’s dispatch, No. 182, of January 28, 1886.

J. B. J.
[Inclosure 3 in No. 301.]

Mr. Uhl to Baron Marschall .

F. O. No. 199.]

Referring to the esteemed note from the imperial foreign office of the 14th instant, the undersigned, ambassador, etc., of the United States of America, in order that there may be no misconception of the position taken by him in regard to the case of Alfred Meyer, has the honor to inform His Excellency Baron Marschall von Bieberstein, Imperial secretary of state for foreign affairs, that his intervention in Meyer’s behalf was not based upon the presumption that his father, Moritz Meyer, had become a naturalized American citizen, although it was understood that such was the case, but that it was based upon the fact that, through his birth in Baltimore, Alfred Meyer became according to American law a native citizen of the United States.

The undersigned avails himself, etc.

Edwin F. Uhl.