File No. 351.117/49a.
The Secretary of State to Mr. P. A. Lelong.
Washington, May 5, 1915.
Sir: The Department has received, by reference from the White House, your letter of April 8 to the President in regard to the Department’s [Page 388] letter to you of April 2, concerning the question of your status in France. It appears that you were born in New Orleans, June 18, 1880, and that your father was born in France, resided in this country about forty years, and obtained naturalization as a citizen of the United States a short time before his death, which occurred about two years ago. In reply to the Department’s letter to the effect that, although you are a citizen of the United States under the law of this country, you may also be considered a French citizen under French law, you ask the President and his Cabinet “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.”
The Department’s letter mentioned above does not contain any opinion which it feels called upon to reverse. You were merely informed concerning the provision of the French law of nationality under which you might be considered a French citizen in France, and told that the Department is not in a position to give you an assurance that you would not be held liable for the performance of military service in France should you voluntarily place yourself within French jurisdiction. I may add that a conflict of citizenship laws may be satisfactorily adjusted only through a treaty arrangement, and there is no treaty between the United States and France covering the status of persons born in either country of citizens of the other country. While it might be deemed reasonable that a person born in the United States of alien parents should be able to elect American nationality upon reaching majority, to the exclusion of any and all other nationalities, provided he intended to reside permanently in this country and perform the usual duties of citizenship, the Department, in the absence of a treaty provision, cannot assure you that such election would be recognized as effective in France. If at any time in the future you should find it necessary to visit France and should there be molested upon the ground that you are a French citizen, you should inform a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States, who would report the matter to the Department in order that it might take such measures in your behalf as would seem warranted by the peculiar facts and circumstances of your case.
I am [etc.]