Mr. Delcassé to
Mr. Ambassador: On the 10th of February
last your excellency was good enough to call the attention of my
department to Mr. Felix Albert Gendrot, born at Cambridge, Mass.,
April 28, 1866, of French father, who claims American citizenship.
[Page 272] Mr. Gendrot, who is at
present in France, was recently called before the military
authorities at Paris to make known the motives which prevented him
from complying with the recruiting obligations. You remark that the
individual in question, being born in the United States, was
considered by the Federal authorities as an American citizen, and
that, having never lived in France, he, like his father, also must
have lost his title to French citizenship according to the old
article 17, section 3, of the Civil Code, by being established
abroad without any intention of returning. You added that the person
in question had passed the age of military service in the active
army, and that, consequently, he could decline French citizenship
without the consent of the Government of the Republic.
My colleague, the minister of justice, to whom I did not fail to
communicate this information, remarks to me this day that it does
not belong to him to examine whether Gendrot can claim American
citizenship because he was born in the United States. Each country
is free and independent in the exercise of its sovereignty, but
there is no doubt that this individual must be considered with
regard to French law as French, in accordance with article 8,
section 1, of the Civil Code (old article 10).
As to the question whether an individual has lost his title to French
citizenship by establishing himself abroad without any intention of
returning, it depends on circumstances of the fact, which the
courts, sovereign judges in questions of nationality, can alone
decide, and if Gendrot proposes to invoke this motive he can submit
his case to the judicial authorities.
Lastly, the fact that the interested party has passed the age of
military service in the active army does not give him the right to
claim foreign nationality. He could oppose this foreign title only
by showing that he has been naturalized in the United States in
accordance with the laws in force. Now, such is not the case.
Moreover, in order to acquire validly, with regard to the French
Government, American naturalization he should have a formal
authorization. He is, in fact, to-day still subject to the
obligations of military service in the active army, because he is in
the position of one who has been omitted or who did not submit. It
is the fact of having complied with the obligations of the military
service in the active army and in the reserve, and not the fact of
having reached the age when one is transferred to the territorial
army, which enables a Frenchman to have himself naturalized abroad
without the consent of the Government.
Under these conditions, the keeper of the seals is of opinion that
until a contrary decision is obtained from the courts Gendrot should
be considered as being of French nationality.