File No. 351.117/48.
Mr. P. A. Lelong to the President.
Dear Mr. President: On March 27, 1915, I sent to Hon. William J. Bryan, Secretary of State of the United States, a letter of which I annex a copy. To that letter I am in receipt of an answer, dated April 2, 1915 (of which I annex a copy) signed for the Secretary of State by Robert Lansing, Counselor. From the conclusion thus reached on the facts of my case by the Secretary of State and his subordinate, “I appeal to Caesar.” I make this appeal in my own behalf and in behalf of the large number of American citizens similarly situated.
Conceding the proposition that I was born with a dual nationality (if such a thing can exist) this duality of nationality ceased when I became of age and elected to exercise my birthright granted to me by the Constitution of the United States as one born in its territory and under its dominion, took an oath to support that Constitution and held office under its authority, and under the authority of two States of the American Union. This proposition must be true unless the Government of the United States shall permit its organic law to be overridden by the laws of a foreign country. It is manifest that between that Constitution and the personal statutes of France which would make me a French citizen against my will and deprive me of my birthright as one born in the United States, there is an irreconcilable conflict. I cannot believe that you will permit the State Department to commit this nation to the policy outlined in the letter to me from that Department, and thus bow its august neck to the yoke of a foreign statute.
Under this policy, one who had been President of the United States or Chief Justice of its Supreme Court, or a Senator and Representative in the Congress, or Commander-in-chief of its armies or High Admiral of its navies, could be seized in France and put into its armies, or punished for evasion of military duty. I am only a humble citizen, but my rights are as great and sacred as those of any other citizen.
I therefore respectfully ask you and your Cabinet to take up the serious matter herein propounded, to reverse the ruling of the Department of State, and to lay down the proposition that one born in this country of French parents, who elects when he becomes of age to be a citizen of the United States, is such citizen and is entitled to the full protection of the United States both in and out of France, free and exempt from any provision of the French law as to his citizenship.
Your obedient servant,