Mr. Hay to Mr. Thomas.

No. 118.]

Sir: I inclose copies of two letters from Mr. Ole J. Vaule, of Crookston, Minn., who has asked the Department to obtain redress from [Page 488]the Government of Norway for Johannes P. Hoiland, a naturalized American citizen, for alleged unlawful arrest and imprisonment.

The facts, as stated, appear to be as follows:

Hoiland was born in Norway, December 23, 1861, and emigrated to the United States in April, 1883, when he was 21 years and 4 months old. He was naturalized in the United States in March, 1896. In December, 1897, he returned to Norway for a visit; in November, 1898, he was notified that he had been fined 20 kroner for failure to be present at a military meeting, and informed that he could not return to America until the fine was paid. He refused to pay the fine, on the ground that he was a citizen of the United States and did not have to do military duty in Norway. On June 7, 1898, he was arrested for declining to drill as a soldier and held under arrest until the next day, when he was released. In August, 1899, it seems that proceedings in regard to the fine were taken in the courts, by which it is said the fine was raised to 32 kroner, but on appeal by Hoiland to the supreme court the judgment of the lower court was, on March 8, 1900, reversed on the ground that Hoiland was a citizen of the United States and had duly notified the authorities of his intention to emigrate. - He was permitted to leave Norway, which he did on March 17, 1900.

It seems that Hoiland had no written emigration permit, but it is said that under the laws of Norway a written permit was not necessary, as he was at the time of his emigration only 21 years and 4 months old. It is also said that at the time of his emigration Hoiland had not drawn lot as to whether he should belong to the regular army or to the reserves, and under the laws of Norway one may, before he has drawn such lot, emigrate upon a mere notice to the commissioner of his district or parish of his intention to do so. An alleged original statement from one who was formerly such commissioner is transmitted to the Department, in which it is stated that Hoiland notified him of his intention to emigrate to America.

Under the naturalization treaty in force between the two countries, a former Norwegian who has emigrated after he has attained the age when he becomes liable to military service and returns again to his original country, is liable to trial and punishment for an act punishable by the laws of Norway and committed before his emigration.

The Department would be pleased to have you investigate the case and report the facts ascertained by you.

I am, etc.,

John Hay.
[Inclosure 1.]

Mr. Vaule to Mr. Hay.

Sir: April 30 last past I wrote you to the effect that one Johannes Hoiland, a citizen of this country, went to Norway for a visit in 1898 (it should have been 1897) and was by the authorities of that country arrested, fined, and detained over there for a couple of years for refusing to do military duty in that country, and that he desired your office to intercede in his behalf to obtain redress from the Government of Norway for the grievances he has sustained, and asked you to let us know how you wanted the case presented.

May 7, 1900, you wrote me to the effect that before you would comply with my request, you wanted to know Holland’s age when he emigrated to the United States, [Page 489]and that you also wanted a copy of his naturalization papers, and also of his military permit.

The reason I did not answer your letter before is that we have been expecting from the authorities in Norway the original military permit, together with his naturalization papers and other papers that were had from Hoiland in the courts of that country. These papers have not yet arrived, but I inclose you herewith another copy of his naturalization papers, and for the present will state that the permit was regular, and accepted as such by the authorities of Norway while Hoiland was detained there as stated.

Hoiland emigrated from Norway April 14, 1883, then 21 years and 4 months of age; he became a citizen of the United States on March 25, 1896; December 11, 1897, he went back to Norway for a visit; November 2, 1898, he was notified by an officer that he had been fined 20 kroner for failing to be present at a military meeting, and was by the same officer at that time notified that he could not return to America until the fine was paid. He refused to pay the fine on the ground that he was a citizen of the United States and did not have to do military duty in Norway; November 29, 1898, the same officer came and borrowed Holland’s naturalization paper and retained same to December 17, 1898, at which time the naturalization paper was returned and a paper served on Hoiland to the effect that he was to stand trial in regard to that fine. The authorities did not bring that case to trial until August 25, 1899. Meanwhile Hoiland was, on June 7, 1899, taken to a military camp and kept under arrest from 3 o’clock in the afternoon of June 7 until 12 o’clock noon of June 8, 1899, at which time he was ordered released from arrest by the oberst (colonel).

In regard to that fine, it was by the lower court affirmed and increased to 32 kroner, but on appeal the judgment was reversed by the supreme court March 8, 1900, and Hoiland permitted to leave Norway and did leave March 17, 1900.

When the military permit arrives I will forward it to you, as well as any other papers you may desire in this matter. Kindly let me hear from you at your earliest opportunity.

Yours, truly,

Ole J. Vaule.
[Inclosure 2.]

Mr. Vaule to Mr. Hay.

Sir: In regard to the claim of Johannes P. Hoiland for having been unlawfully detained by the authorities of Norway, and which claim has been heretofore referred to in my letters of April 30, June 9, and June 29, 1900, I will say that I have investigated the case in regard to his military permit referred to in your letter of June 15, 1900, and find that he had no “written permit;” and it appears that, under the laws of Norway, no such written permit was necessary for him, as he was, at the time of his emigration, only 21 years and 4 months old. He was born December 23, 1861, and emigrated from Stavanger, Norway, April 14, 1883.

Mr. Hoiland became a citizen of the United States, as shown by the copy of his naturalization papers, forwarded to you in my letter of June 9, 1900. Thereafter, and on December 11, 1897, he returned to Norway for a visit. November 2, 1898, he was notified that he was fined 20 kroner for failing to be present at a military meeting, and was from then on prevented by the authorities from returning to America. June 7, 1899, he was taken to Malde, a military camp near Stavanger, Norway, arrested for not wanting to drill as a soldier, and kept under arrest from June 7 at 3 p. m. to June 8 at 12 m., at which time the oberst ordered his release.

The casein regard to the fine was then taken up by the courts and the fine was raised to 32 kroner, and he was again notified that he could not return to America until the fine was paid. Hoiland appealed to the supreme court of the Kingdom of Norway, where the judgment of the lower court was reversed on the ground that he was a citizen of the United States and that he had duly notified the authorities of his intention to emigrate, and he was permitted to embark March 8, 1900.

At the time of his emigration Hoiland had not drawn lot as to whether he should belong to the regular army or to the reserves, and under the laws of Norway one may before he has drawn such lot emigrate upon a mere notice to the commissioner of his district or parish of his intention to do so. I inclose herewith an original statement from Soren Westlye, dated June 22, 1901, who was such commissioner at the time of Holland’s emigration in 1863, and a translation attached to same. It [Page 490]may also be mentioned that this statement is in substance the same as the statement presented by Hoiland to the courts of Norway and on which he was acquitted.

If there is anything else I can do in this connection kindly let me know.

Yours, truly,

Ole J. Vaule.
[Subinclosure.—Translation.]

I hereby certify that Johannes Peterson Hoiland notified me of his intention to emigrate to America (without being able to state the year) and that he thereafter emigrated.

Soren Westlye,
Formerly District Commissioner.