File No. 367.117/78.

Chargé Jay to the Secretary of State .

No. 274.]

Sir: I have the honor * * * to recall to the Department the Embassy’s previous despatches on the subject of the detention in Italy of those American citizens of military age who are considered by the Italian Government to be still Italian subjects when in Italy.

The prospects of obtaining the desired permission to return to the United States for naturalized citizens of Italian origin liable to military service in the Reserves are, unfortunately, not very hopeful. The Ambassador has pointed out that the Embassy has especially directed its efforts to cases where the applicant was born in the United States of an Italian father naturalized subsequent4 to the son’s birth; but even in these cases no definite satisfaction has been obtained, as, under the doctrine of dual allegiance and in the absence of a naturalization treaty, they are held to be Italian subjects when in Italy.

[Page 557]

The phrases “detained by military authorities”, or “refused permission to return to the United States”, which are used by the applicants and in the correspondence between the Department and the Embassy should perhaps be briefly explained.

No Italian subject of military age, i. e., under 39, is permitted to leave Italy without permission; and in consequence the steamship companies generally refuse to sell tickets to anyone not provided with such permission. Moreover, the ship is searched at the port of departure and those bearing an Italian name, even if furnished with a foreign passport, are obliged to give proof that they are entitled to leave.

It will be seen, therefore, that the military authorities are only indirectly detaining the applicants, except in those rare cases where he is actually under arms, either performing his regular military service or serving in one of the few classes of First Reserves now mobilized.

I have [etc.]

Peter A. Jay.
  1. Mr. Jay doubtless meant to say “prior” instead of subsequent”; see, in For. Rel. 1914, p. 406, the despatch of September 15, where Mr. Page contrasts the Spediacci case with the others; see also p. 413 et seq., inclosures 2, 5, and 27 with despatch No. 221 of December 14. And see particularly Mr. Lansing’s letter to Senator Lodge, dated June 9, 1915, post, as well as the entire correspondence concerning Da Prato, especially despatch No. 362 of August 27.