Mr. Finch to Mr. Hay.

No. 734.]

Sir: I inclose copy and translation of a communication, with accompanying certificate,a from the minister of foreign affairs of this Republic, in relation to the recent detention and discharge of Louis E. Hufnagel by the Uruguayan military commander at Paysandu, Uruguay. Mr. Hufnagel is the bearer of passport No. 19, issued February 3, 1904, in renewal of passport No. 8, issued March 11, 1902, the latter in compliance with your No. 188, dated June 28, 1901, signed Hill, acting.

Mr. Louis E. Hufnagel is the son of John G. Hufnagel, of Paysandu, a naturalized citizen of the United States, but, now and for many years previously a regular resident of this Republic. Louis E. Hufnagel was born at Paysandu, and at the age of 17 was enrolled as a member of the national guard. This guard has been called out to assist in suppressing the impending insurrection, and, not reporting for duty, he was arrested and held in the cuartel for a short time. His release was ordered by the Government, but it does not concede his claim to exemption on the ground that he is a bona fide citizen of the United States.

According to the constitution and laws of Uruguay Mr. Hufnagel, having been born in the country, is a citizen thereof, and as such is subject to military duty and any and all other duties legally imposed on Uruguayan citizens.


William R. Finch.

Mr. Romeu to Mr. Finch.

Mr. Minister: On answering your excellency’s note elated the 25th of February last, relating to Mr. Louis Hufnagel, I had the honor to inform you that his discharge from the service of the national guard had been ordered, in the understanding that said gentleman really was a North American citizen, as was asserted.

I also said to your excellency that the military commander of Paysandu, where Hufnagel resides, asserted that this gentleman was born in that locality and was inscribed in the civil register, in accordance with the laws and regulations on the matter, promising to send the document proving this at the first opportunity.

In effect, I received to-day from that authority a testimonial in the form of the registration of Hufnagel’s birth, as your excellency may see by the inclosed copy duly certified by the secretary.

It states that on the 12th day of May, 1884, Mr. John Hufnagel appeared before the justice of the peace of the first section of the city of Paysandu to declare, in accordance with the law, that on the 10th of said month, at 10 a.m., a child was born, son of the person declaring, who was named Louis Eugene, mentioning, in accordance with the regulations, the names of the parents and grandparents of the newborn child.

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Mr. John Hufnagel signed the act mentioned in the presence of witnesses.

Now, according to the constitution of the State, Louis Hufnagel is a native citizen of the Republic, and therefore enjoys all the rights it consecrates, and consequently, in his turn, is subject to the duties called for by citizenship.

Article 7 of the political code, which is the supreme law, the law of laws, establishes the following: “All free men born in any part of the territory of the State are native citizens.”

The same constitution determines the cases in which the exercise or enjoyment of citizen rights are suspended or lost; but in no case can the duties or obligations imposed by the laws regulating the constitutional precepts be suspended or exonerated.

I know that in the matter of nationality and citizenship opinions differ among authors, and that European legislation differs from the American of a Spanish origin.

While some sustain and state in their political codes and in their laws the personal principle which attributes to the son the nationality of its parents, the others sustain the territorial principle according to which the birthplace determines the nationality.

The last-mentioned principle is the one which this Republic adopted from the time of its independence, and this was established in its constitution, sworn on July 18, 1830, from which date it has been faithfully and invariably observed and fulfilled, as emanating from national sovereignty.

States, in virtue of their sovereign rights, form their constitution and their laws, and have for their people and for their territory an independent legislation established in conformity with the principles of the right of people, and is regulated in many cases by conventional right; and the conflicts on legislation which may occur between States are settled, when possible, by international accords or treaties, but always in conformity with the fundamental principles of the respective constitutions.

That conflict undoubtedly exists between the constitutions of Europe and America, and thus it frequently happens that a native citizen who, being obliged in his country to comply with all the duties of citizenship, has to comply with them also in the country of his parents, if he should happen to go there, even temporarily.

So that such an individual has a double nationality and consequently has to fulfill duties in both, according to the place he is in and the residence he may select in accordance with the principles of nationality of his original or territorial birthplace.

Some nations have negotiated treaties to determine the condition of naturalized citizens in the respective countries, reciprocal concessions being made, but Spanish America, and especially the countries of the Plata and the Pacific have imposed nationality in an absolute manner on all those born within their territory, whatever the nationality of the parents, and this is explained in a very convincing and logical manner.

Our America being almost entirely populated by free men from all parts of the globe, who preserve and wish to preserve their foreign nationality, it is easily understood that their sons, born there, must be declared native citizens, with the enjoyment of their rights and subject to all the duties emanating therein, otherwise those new nationalities could not have been formed, nor could they have subsisted for the want of citizens were they declared incorporated to the nationality of the parents.

I would fear to abuse the extreme benevolence of your excellency and of your recognized eminence were I to abound in other considerations to demonstrate that Mr. Louis Hufnagel, born in the territory of the Republic, is an Uruguayan citizen according to the constitution of the State, and consequently subject to the service of the national guard as well as to all other citizen duties, and at the same time able to enjoy all the rights it accords.

I do not know, nor is it my duty to investigate, the reasons which may have mediated for him to have been furnished a passport as a North American citizen. What is to me essential, and what I have just done, is to demonstrate to your excellency in an incontrovertible manner that Mr. Hufnagel is an Uruguayan citizen.

With this motive, I am, etc.,

José Romeu.
  1. Certificate not printed.