Mr. Hay to Mr. Thomas.
Washington, August 20, 1901.
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.,