File No. 351.117/21.

The Secretary of State to Mr. Milton K. Young.

Sir: With reference to your letter2 of September 17, 1914, and the Department’s reply of September 22, concerning the imprisonment in the French Army of François Pellissier, a naturalized American citizen of French origin, you are informed that the Department has received a despatch from the American Ambassador at Paris, reporting that the French Government declines to release Mr. Pellissier for the reason that he is still considered a French citizen under French law. In explanation of its position in this matter, the French Foreign Minister made the following statement:

The Law of March 21, 1905, provides in Article 1 “that every Frenchman is subject to personal military service.” Moreover Article 17 of the Civil Code provides that “if a Frenchman is still subject to military duty in the active army, foreign naturalization shall only allow him to lose his French nationality when said naturalization shall have been authorized by the French Government.”

Mr. Pellissier was naturalized American on July 30, 1900; he was still at that time subject to military duty; he should therefore have obtained the authorization of the Government. Inasmuch as he became naturalized without authorization, the military authorities were bound to consider him as having remained French.

The Department is still discussing with the French Government the question of the status of naturalized American citizens of French origin detained in France for military service, but I regret to say [Page 386] that the French Government has not yet shown a willingness to recede from the position indicated in the statement of the Foreign Minister, just quoted.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Robert Lansing,
  1. Inclosed with the Department’s 317 to Mr. Herrick, September 24, 1914. For. Rel. 1914, p. 297.