File No. 351.117/52.

The Secretary of State to Ambassador Sharp.

No. 446.]

Sir: I send you herewith a copy of a letter of June 10 from Professor Joseph Seronde, of New Haven, Connecticut, in which he says that he has received from the French Consul General in New York [Page 389]City a notice to the effect that he is “to be subjected to the full rigor of the law” for not having joined his regiment in France before November 14 last. It appears that Mr. Seronde came to this country at the age of fourteen in the year 1897 and has obtained naturalization as a citizen of the United States, and he says that he did not consider himself bound to obey the military laws of France in view of the fact that he is an American citizen. He enquires whether, in case he goes to France after the war, he will be “disciplined” for having failed to respond to the summons of the French military authorities.

You will please present this case to the French Government and say that this Government cannot recognize the right of French officials to summon citizens of the United States residing within the territory and jurisdiction of this country to leave the United States and go to France to perform military service, whether or not they may be considered French citizens under French law. You may add that this objection applies equally to cases of persons who were born in France and have obtained naturalization, as citizens of this country, at the same time renouncing allegiance to their native country, and cases of persons born in the United States of French parents. With regard to the latter it should be remarked that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides that all persons born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States.

You may also say to the French Government that it is hoped that instructions will be issued to diplomatic and consular officers of France in this country to desist in the future from summoning for military service in France persons who are residing in the United States and are citizens of this country.

I am [etc.]

Robert Lansing.
[Inclosure.]

Mr. Joseph Seronde to the Department of State.

Gentlemen: I am in receipt from the French Consul General in New York of a notice to the effect that I am “to be subjected to the full rigor of the law” for not having joined “my regiment” before last November 14th. I am an American citizen, having lived in this country since the age of 14 and haying been duly naturalized in the State of Connecticut, Fairfield Co. As an American citizen, I did not consider myself bound to obey other laws than those of the United States, and the French Consul’s notice comes as a disagreeable surprise, all the more as he knows the facts I have just stated. I should like to know exactly what my status is. Am I to be outlawed in France for fulfilling my duties as an American citizen, or shall I lose my citizenship by returning to France? I understand that I should also be “disciplined” for having failed to come sooner. It is of course evident that nothing can happen as long as I remain in this country; but, a professor of languages, it is often necessary for me to go abroad; I have, in fact, planned to do so when the war is over. Does my American citizenship offer any protection? I am French only by birth, practically, since my education was made in this country, where I have resided continuously since 1897. I should be very grateful for any information you can give me.

Yours very truly,

Joseph Seronde.