Mr. Hay to Mr. Porter.
Washington , March 31, 1899 .
Sir: I have received your dispatch No. 434, of the 16th instant, in further relation to the case of Gendrot.
You report that no further steps seem to have been taken in the matter since your dispatch of February 24, but that Gendrot will surely call one of these days to say that his civil suit is fixed for a certain day and to ask that legal assistance be given him. You add that, if properly assisted, the French civil court might possibly recognize Gendrot’s American title, because his case differs from the others in the important particular that he has not committed the offense of renouncing French citizenship and assuming any other nationality of his own volition, and that you think the case is an interesting one and deserves the attention of the embassy.
Although you do not expressly request instructions as to the employment of counsel in Gendrot’s behalf, it seems proper, in the light of [Page 271] what you say, to instruct you upon this point. The Department would not favor taking original steps to promote an appeal of the case to the civil court, but should the contingency arise and Gendrot’s case actually be before that court, and it be satisfactorily shown to you that Gendrot is without money or property and is unable to employ counsel, you are authorized, but only in those contingencies, to arrange with the gentlemen from whom the embassy takes legal counsel to look after the case in the civil branch, with the understanding, if necessary, that a reasonable fee may be charged for the service performed. In the event of their so serving, you will report the fact to the Department and render special account for the fee should it be asked.
The matter is necessarily left largely to your discretion. Gendrot, by his acts, has somewhat prejudiced himself in the eyes of the Department, but his personal merit or demerit as an American citizen in distress should not enter into your determination so much as the likelihood of carrying the matter to such conclusion as will afford a favorable precedent for future cases.
I have, etc.,