Mr. Vignaud to Mr. Hay.

No. 902.]

Sir: Some time ago a naturalized American of French origin, Mr. Emile Robin, applied to this embassy for the purpose of having his name erased from the French military rolls. Robin was born in France on the 9th of January, 1869. After having served in the active army the full term of three years, to which every Frenchman has to submit, he proceeded to the United States, where he was naturalized March 31, 1900. At that time, although released from the active army, he was still liable to serve in the reserve, and therefore, according to the [Page 157] French law of June 26, 1889, new article 17 of the code, he could not renounce his French nationality without the consent of his Government.

At his urgent request the embassy applied, nevertheless, for his complete discharge from all military obligations in France, and I am now in receipt of Mr. Delcassé’s reply. The application is refused, on the ground that, as the period during which Robin is liable to serve in the active army (comprising the reserve) only expires on the 12th of March, 1903, when he would be transferred to the territorial army, and further, as he failed to apply to the authorities to obtain consent to change his nationality, his naturalization in the United States has no value in the eyes of the French Government.

Such reply was fully expected and contains nothing new, but it defines the position the French Government takes when cases of this kind arise, in a manner so precise that I have deemed it advisable to send you a copy and translation of it.

I have, etc.,

Henry Vignaud.

Mr. Delcassé to Mr. Vignaud.

Mr. Chargé d’affaires: The 3d of July last the ambassador of the United States applied for my mediation to obtain the striking off our army roll of Mr. Robin (Emile), who had obtained American naturalization on the 31st of March, 1900.

My colleague, the minister of war, to whom I hastened to refer the matter, informs me that the result of the information collected by his department is that Mr. Robin has not been authorized by the French Government to be naturalized abroad. By the terms of article 17 of the Civil Code, if a Frenchman is still subject to the obligations of military service in the active army, naturalization abroad will not cause him to lose the quality of Frenchman unless it was authorized by the French Government.

As Mr. Robin would have been transferred to the territorial army only on March 12, 1903, he was subject to the formality of an authorization when he acquired, in 1900, his American naturalization. That authorization not having been applied for, the naturalization acquired in America by Mr. Robin is without value in the eyes of the French Goverment.

General André charges me, in these circumstances, to express to you his regret at being unable to order the striking off of Mr. Robin’s name from our army roll.

Accept, etc.,