File No. 365.113/128.

Senator Lodge to the Secretary of State ad interim.

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have received your letter of June 9 in reply to my letter laying before you the case of Ugo Da Prato who has been held for service in the Italian Army. You very properly asked me for proof of his birth in this country subsequent to the naturalization of his father as an American citizen, and I sent you proofs both of the father’s naturalization and of the son’s birth in the city of Boston. These facts clearly took the case out of the provisions of the Italian Code, but your intimation, as I understood it, that if these facts had not existed and if young Da Prato’s father had not been a citizen of the United States we should have had no claim for his release, led me to make some observations of a general character and in very general terms on the theory of dual citizenship or dual nationality.

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As a matter of course I am familiar with the doctrines of the jus soli and the jus sanguinis to which you refer, and also with the conflict of laws, which has been the subject of much learned discussion and which exists in regard to other matters as well as in regard to citizenship. But the fact that there is a conflict of laws is very different from admitting that the law in conflict with our own is valid. Because Italy, or any other country, has a law which conflicts with ours it does not follow that we should fail to sustain our own law and our own doctrine. If we did so there would be no conflict of laws because we should then submit to the law of another country instead of maintaining our own. In a case like that of LeLong this conflict of laws would arise both with France and Italy, yet there can be no doubt whatever that under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution LeLong is a citizen of the United States and as such is subject to all the duties and entitled to all the rights of a citizen of the United States including that of protection by the Government. The fact that France or Italy, or any other country, makes a claim upon an American citizen, situated as LeLong was, does not alter the duty of the United States toward him under our own Constitution.

The report of Secretary Fish, which you cite, says that such children are born to a double character, which is no doubt true; but if the child acquires and exercises the rights of a citizen of the United States it does not seem to me that he can be deprived of the rights which we give him by the laws of another country of which his father happened to be a citizen.

Secretary Root, in the report which you cite, refers to it as a “conflict of citizenship,” which is correct, and says it is usually spoken of as a dual allegiance, which, if I may venture to say so, is a loose and misleading phrase, for a man can have but one allegiance even if two countries by their laws make claim to him as a citizen or subject.

What I said in my first letter was due to the fact that it seems to me that the United States should never, and particularly at this time should not, abate in any way in its duty to those who under its own Constitution and Laws are American citizens, or fail to support their rights as we have established them or permit them to be in any way infringed. Under the German law, which was promulgated I believe in January, 1914, we have a different situation. That law does not create a conflict of laws, but establishes a dual allegiance, which, as you point out, is contrary to our laws and absolutely incompatible with our oath of allegiance.

Very truly yours,

H. C. Lodge.