Mr. Tower to Mr. Hay.
St. Petersburg , April 25, 1899 .
Sir: I have the honor to report to yon for your information, the case of Mr. M. W. Pipping, of Helsingfors, a Russian subject who has applied for “a certificate to keep his two sons as American citizens in order to rescue them from military service.”
The facts relating to it are as follows: M. W. Pipping was born in Helsingfors, Finland, in 1851. He emigrated to the United States in December of 1883 and resided there, in Pennsylvania and Ohio, where he followed his vocation as a mechanical engineer until the month of March, 1896. He never was naturalized as a citizen of the United States, but returned to his native country and to his duty as a Russian subject in 1896.
Whilst he resided in Altoona, Pa., two sons were born to him, to wit: Alfred, on the 24th of November, 1885, and Ingewald, on the 28th of December, 1887. Upon his return to Helsingfors he brought these two minor children with him, and they are now living with him there.
It is for these boys, who are at present, according to his statement, 13 and 11 years of age, respectively, that he asks for the protection of the United States Government to exempt them from military service here because they were born in America.
His first application, a copy of which is respectfully submitted herewith, together with copies of the whole correspondence relating to it, was made through Mr. Victor Ek, United States vice-consul at Helsingfors, in a letter dated the 16th of March, 1899, to the consul-general of the United States at St. Petersburg, which was in due course referred by the consul-general to this embassy.
Before deciding whether these boys are entitled to receive the protection sought for them by their father, I wrote to the vice-consul at Helsingfors, saying that the only document which could be given them by way of identification would be an American passport, and I asked him for further information as to who Mr. Pipping is and where he was born; when he went to America; when he returned from there; whether he has any interest there; whether he ever declared his intention to become an American citizen; whether he intends to send his children to America to reside there; and, if so, when. I thought it possible that these inquiries might lead to the discovery of some reason for issuing a passport; otherwise it would appear that this was merely the application of a foreigner who seeks to shield his boys from the performance of such duties as they will properly become liable to if they continue to reside within Russian jurisdiction and remain hereafter Russian subjects in fact. But Mr. Pipping has written the reply which accompanied the vice-consul’s letter addressed to me on the 10th of April, from which it appears that this man lived in the United States for more than twelve years without acquiring citizenship and without even declaring his intention to become an American citizen; that he is now engaged in business in Helsingfors and has no intention of returning to America to become a citizen of the United States; that he is [Page 601] raising and educating his sons in Finland and has no definite intention of sending them to the United States now or in the future.
It is true these boys were born in the State of Pennsylvania, and I recognize the fact that they have a right under our statute to avail themselves of that accident to choose American citizenship if they decide to do so upon their coming of age. But, without discussing the abstract question of their right to citizenship, I am inclined to follow at present the ruling of the Department of State in a similar case, in which it was held that a minor child of a foreigner who was removed by his parents beyond the jurisdiction of the United States took the status of his father during his minority if he remained abroad. The Secretary of State having declared in regard to a certain minor born in the United States, but removed by his parents to Switzerland, that, “while it is true that the boy by virtue of his nativity may claim citizenship of the United States, yet his father being an alien and continuing to remain a Swiss citizen, and having removed the boy while a minor without the jurisdiction of the United States, his status, as well as his domicile, according to well-understood principles of international and municipal law, follows that of the father until the boy attains his majority. Should he, after reaching the age of 21 years, voluntarily return to the United States, and make it his permanent home, asserting the right of citizenship in virtue of his nativity, his political status would then be determined according to the law and circumstances of the case.” (Mr. Seward to Mr. Fish, in re Joseph Speck, August 20, 1878.)
The children of Mr. Pipping are in no proper sense Americans. They are not in contact with American influence or American thought, and they are not preparing themselves, in so far as I can discover, to perform the duties of American life. They live in a foreign country, and their father now seeks to use the protection of the American flag as a cloak under which to hide them from their legal obligations.
Pending the instructions of the Department, I have refused to issue passports to them.
I have, etc.,