File No. 4050/19–21.

Minister Collier to the Secretary of State.

No. 292.]

Sir: I have the honor to send you herewith a copy of a letter from Mr. D. E. Birch, United States consul at Malaga, asking if Carmen Bligh Durkee, a child born in Spain of British parentage and adopted by Mrs. Durkee, an American citizen, is entitled to be registered in the consulate as an American citizen, together with my reply to Mr. Birch informing him that the child is not an American citizen and is not entitled to be registered as such.

I ask your consideration of this question so that if you should disapprove my decision the consul at Malaga may be advised.

I am, etc.,

Wm. Miller Collier.
[Inclosure 1.]

Consul Birch to Minister Collier.

Sir: I beg to place before you, at the request of the parties concerned and for my own official information, the following case:

Mrs. Rose Durkee, a resident of Colorado Springs, Colo., now temporarily in Malaga, asks that I enter upon the register of American citizens in this consulate the name of Carmen Bligh Durkee, aged 5½ years.

The child, who has just been adopted by Mrs. Durkee, was born of British parents in Huelva, Spain. Her mother is dead and the father, now living in Huelva, has just signed before the American consular agent at Huelva a document which embodies both a renunciation of paternal rights on the part of the father in favor of Mrs. Durkee and acceptance of adoption and all its responsibilities on the part of Mrs. Durkee.

The latter has signed the document before me, which act is believed by Mrs. Durkee to make effective the actual adoption of the child.

Mrs. Durkee is very desirous that no question should ever be raised as to the validity of the adoption, and therefore, as an additional point of security, wishes to have the child registered here.

Would you be good enough to advise me if I should accept this registration.

I am asked by the British consul here to inform him if aliens may be married by civil process in the United States and what length of temporary residence is required. I have nothing in this consulate bearing on the point and would request that you kindly enlighten me.

Thanking you in advance for your courtesy,

I am, etc.,

D. R. Birch.
[Inclosure 2.]

Minister Collier to Consul Birch.

Dear Sir: I am in receipt of your letter of the 5th instant inquiring as to your right to register in your consulate as an American citizen, Carmen Bligh Durkee, a child 5½ years of age born in Spain of British parents, and always resident in Spain, but recently adopted by Mrs. Durkee, an American citizen, temporarily residing in Malaga.

[Page 1016]

In reply I beg to advise you that this child is not an American citizen and can not be registered by you as such. I quote the following, which appears in Wharton’s International Law Digest, volume 2, article 184, page 407, being an extract from a letter of Secretary of State Frelinghuysen to Mr. Willis, written February 21, 1884.

“There are but three methods known to me for obtaining the rights of an American citizen. Those entitled to such rights are:

  • “(1) Children born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;
  • “(2) Children born of American parents whose fathers have resided within the United States; and,
  • “(3) Those embraced by the naturalization law, which would include those naturalized and their children minors at the time of naturalization, if within the jurisdiction of this country.

“I can not see that this child born abroad presumably of foreign parents is by the act of adoption under a state law brought within either of these provisions prescribing United States citizenship.”

A copy of your letter and of this reply to you will be sent to the Department of State. Should the department disapprove my course you will be advised.

With regard to your second question I beg to say that in the United States marriage as well as divorce is regulated by state law. This may differ in the various States. Almost universally, however, civil marriages are allowed and aliens as well as natives may contract them and no length of residence is prerequisite to the right to make these contracts.

I am, etc.,

Wm. Miller Collier.