Mr. Swenson to Mr. Hay.

No. 284.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith copies of my notes to the foreign office in the military service case of James Nelson, which has not previously been reported to the Department.

Under date of March 22, 1902, the minister of foreign affairs advised me that, in accordance with my request, Mr. Nelson’s sentence had been commuted to a fine.

This was satisfactory to Mr. Nelson, and permitted him to proceed on his homeward journey without further interruption.

I have, etc.,

Laurits S. Swenson.
[Inclosure 1.]

Mr. Swenson to Dr. Deuntzer.

No. 139.]

Excellency: I have the honor to invite your excellency’s attention to the following military service case:

James Nelson was born at Eged, Horreby Sogn, Falster, Denmark, May 20, 1862. Conformably to the Danish conscription laws, he performed military service from January 30, 1883, to October 3, 1884, and from September 2 to October 3, 1885. He would have been called in again for duty in September, 1886, but meanwhile emigrated to the United States, in March of that year, without having applied for or procured the required official permission. He was naturalized as a citizen of the United States before the district court of the second judicial district of Ramsey County, at St. Paul, Minn., November 24, 1897. His home is at St. Anthony Park, Minn., where he is engaged in the dairy business. In December, 1901, he returned to his native country for the purpose of visiting his mother and other relatives, as well as benefiting his health. He is accompanied by his wife and two of the minor children. Two of his children, one 7 years of age and one 8, were left behind at the home in Minnesota.

He intends to return to the United States as soon as his little son, who was taken sick with gastric fever shortly before the holidays, regains sufficient strength to undertake the journey. On the 17th of this month Mr. Nelson was summoned before the authorities at Falster’s Vestre Herred Kontor, Nyköbing, Falster, and fined 6 kroner for having emigrated without the required permission, as stated above.

On the 26th instant he received notice from the recruiting officer of Fourth Regiment of Dragoons, Second Squadron, at Nestved, to report forthwith for military duty. The following day he called at this legation and made a full statement of his case, as set forth above. He exhibited his certificate of naturalization and a passport, No. 48684, issued to him by the Secretary of State November 1, 1901.

He appealed for my intercession in his behalf; I advised him to appear at the Nestved office and to explain the situation to the officer in charge, who, on learning the facts would, in my opinion, press the matter no further. This morning I received a letter from Mr. Nelson, as follows:

Nestved, January 27, 1902.

Sir: In spite of strong protest on my part, the authorities of the Fourth Regiment of Dragoons, Nestved, compelled me to enter upon military duty. I respectfully request you to do everything in your power, at the earliest possible moment, to secure my release.

Respectfully yours,

James Nelson.

Under the above circumstances, I feel confident that the necessary orders for Mr. Nelson’s exemption from military duty will be given as soon as his case is brought to [Page 376] the knowledge of the proper appellate authority. I will thank your excellency to communicate the contents of my note to the competent official; and I would earnestly request that the matter be expedited as much as possible, in order that Mr. Nelson may be released without delay.

He is subjected to great inconvenience by being detained at Nestved.

Be pleased to accept, etc.,

Laurits S. Swenson.
[Inclosure 2.]

Mr. Swenson to Dr. Deuntzer.

No. 140.]

Excellency: In my No. 139 dated the 28th ultimo, I invited your excellency’s attention to the military service case of James Nelson, a naturalized citizen of the United States. Mr. Nelson informs me by letter, under date of the 6th instant, that after three days’ service he has been released from further duty.

The fine of 6 kroner which he had paid for failure to comply with the Danish military regulations before emigration has been refunded to him. He has been informed, however, that he will be adjudged to pay a heavier fine and to serve a few days in prison. He desires to know if this penalty can not be reduced to a mere fine. I am not sufficiently familiar with the laws governing the case to know why Mr. Nelson’s exemption from service on the ground of his American citizenship should in any way affect the question of penalty for violation of military regulations before his naturalization; but I take it that the authorities may exercise discretion in passing on the case in question; and in view of the facts set forth in my former note to your excellency, I would respectfully request that leniency be exercised in dealing with Mr. Nelson, and that he be saved from the humiliation involved in imprisonment. Could not the original fine be allowed to stand, and the case thus considered closed? I wish to express my appreciation of the dispatch with which my intercession in behalf of Mr. Nelson was acted upon, and to thank your excellency in advance for your further good offices in the matter.

Be pleased, etc.,

Laurits S. Swenson.
[Inclosure 3.]

Mr. Swenson to Dr. Deuntzer.

No. 142.]

Excellency: Referring to my Nos. 139 and 140 of January 28 and February 7, respectively, in the military service case of James Nelson, I have the honor to inclose herewith a notice,a a petition,a and a transcript of the court records,a which Mr. Nelson has forwarded to me through his attorney, C. B. Olivarius, of Nyköbing, Falster, with the request that I submit the same to the proper authorities. Mr. Nelson’s delicate health suffers from the nervous strain caused by the sense of imprisonment, and I would earnestly repeat my request of the 7th instant that his sentence be commuted.

Be pleased, etc.,

Laurits S. Swenson.
[Inclosure 4.]

Mr. Swenson to Dr. Deuntzer.

No. 145.]

Excellency: Referring to the military service case of James C. Nelson, concerning which I last addressed your excellency in my No. 142, of the 21st ultimo, I beg to bring to your attention a letter which Mr. Nelson’s wife has written to me, under date of the 11th instant. She says, among other things:

“We are now ready to return to America, and would have started by this time if he (Mr. Nelson) could but get his American citizenship papers, but they are still in [Page 377] the possession of the authorities at Nyköbing, Falster, who refuse to surrender them before the case is settled. This seems to take a long time, and as my husband’s health is failing instead of improving, we were in hopes that you could hurry the case a little if we asked you. It is three weeks since the papers were sent to Copenhagen. We are so anxious to get home now as soon as possible.”

Your excellency is familiar with all the circumstances in the case, and I am sure you quite agree with me that early action ought to be taken by the proper authorities, in order that Mr. Nelson may be left free to proceed on his homeward journey, in accordance with his wish. To this end I again appeal to your good offices.

I avail, etc.,

Laurits S. Swenson.
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