I inclose herewith copy of a letter received from Gendrot, in which he
claims the protection of this embassy as an American citizen and asks to
be provided with the necessary means for bringing before a French civil
court the action without which his rights will not be respected.
I respectfully ask for authorization to comply with this request.
Mr. Gendrot to
American Art Association, 2 Impasse Conti,
Dear Sir: Being a citizen and born in the
United States, I come to ask the ambassador for the protection and
aid he owes his countryman.
My case has already been the object of diplomatic correspondence in
the year 1888, as that period, while sojourning in France, the
French Government called upon me to do five years’ military service,
basing their claim upon the fact that I was born of French
parentage. I was arrested, released, and was about to be arrested a
second time when I departed for the United States.
In the diplomatic correspondence that took place the minister of
foreign affairs, Mr. Flourens, replied to the United States
ambassador that if I insisted upon claiming American citizenship I
was at liberty, in order to establish my true position, to apply to
the civil courts; only on seeing a decision of the French courts
declaring I am a foreigner can the military authorities consent to
order that my name be stricken from the rolls of the French
At that period I was ignorant of this means of repudiating the
quality of Frenchman.
But recently having arrived in France for the purpose of study, I was
arrested as (ensoumie), and am about to pass before the second
council of war to-morrow. If I do not find means to stay the
proceeding I am liable to be condemned to from one month to one year
My lawyer will try to secure a postponement of the case, declaring
that you, the United States ambassador, was having official
correspondence with the French Government in my behalf. However, he
considers that this means is not a legal one, and that the judges
could ignore this appeal and pronounce their verdict. He says,
should I address a request to the French civil court, that tribunal,
by having taken up the question of my citizenship, would thus
prevent the council from passing finally upon my case until the
civil court rendered its verdict.
He also believes that, my case being a peculiar one, the courts might
find that I could repudiate the quality of French citizenship in
view of article 17 of the Code Civil, which says, to lose the rights
of French citizenship, first, “A Frenchman naturalized in a foreign
country.” Having been born and lived for twenty-six years in the
United States, and am a voter there, it seems to me I am less of a
Frenchman than one born in France and who has been naturalized in
the United States.
This civil case that M. Flourens has indicated might terminate in my
favor and which is actually the only means out of my present
In view of my United States citizenship, and not having the means to
protect myself, I appeal to the United States Government, or to you,
its ambassador, to give me the means to carry on this civil case, or
to carry it on for me.
There is a grave question of principle in my case, and should the
verdict be in my favor it would establish an important
I am persuaded that this question interests in the highest degree the
rights of American citizens abroad.
I am, etc.,