File No. 763.72111/3051

The British Ambassador (Spring Rice) to the Secretary of State

No. 400]

Sir: With reference to my note No. 291 of July 28,2 I understand that the United States District Court at San Francisco has rendered a decision in the case of Messrs. Blair and Addis who have been Condemned for a breach of the neutrality laws of the United States.

I have not yet received the text of this decision but in the meantime I venture to request that you will inform me as soon as possible, should you be able to do so, what action can be properly taken by British consular officers in this country in the following cases:

Trained British soldiers who are British subjects wishing to return in order to reenter the British Army who request employment as mule or horse tenders on board vessels bound for British ports.
British subjects who wish to enlist for the first time in the British Army.

I enclose two forms in answer to applicants which appear to me to be in conformity with the requirements of the law.

I venture to request that I may be informed whether there is any objection to these forms being used under the circumstances above described.

I have [etc.]

Cecil Spring Rice
[Page 772]
[Enclosure 1]

Dear Sir: With reference to your letter of _ _ _ _ _ _ _ with regard to enlistment in His Majesty’s forces, I have to inform you that this office is not authorised to furnish free passages from the United States to England to British subjects who wish to return for the purpose of enlisting.

British subjects however who are willing to work their way to England can as a rule obtain employment without remuneration as horse attendants on homeward-bound vessels. A gratuity of one pound is usually given to such attendants on arrival in England in return for their services. If you wish to take advantage of this method of returning home, you should notify this office accordingly.

Thanking you for your patriotic offer, I am [etc.]

[Enclosure 2]

Dear Sir: With reference to your letter _ _ _ _ _ _ _ in regard to rejoining His Majesty’s forces, I have to inform you that pending the settlement of certain questions now under discussion the sending home of men who have received military training is suspended.

If, however, you are able to find your own way to England, or are willing to work your passage over as a horse attendant, I have no doubt that your services would be accepted if you come up to the physical and other requirements. No promise or guarantee can, however, be given on this side.

In the event of your being willing to work your way over, you should communicate again with this office.

Thanking you for your patriotic offer, I am [etc.]

Circular issued by the Department of State, November 1, 1915, concerning the enlistment of Americans in foreign armies

The Department has received a number of inquiries from people in the United States asking whether enlistment in a foreign army by a citizen of the United States is evidence that he has expatriated himself and whether it is a breach of his duty as a citizen of the United States to enlist in a foreign army.

The law relative to expatriation (Sec. 2, act of March 2, 1907) says:

That any American citizen shall be deemed to have expatriated himself when he has been naturalized in any foreign state in conformity with its laws, or when he has taken an oath of allegiance to any foreign state.

Therefore, when service in a foreign army involves taking an oath of allegiance to a foreign state, an American citizen who enters such service must be deemed to have expatriated himself.

Service in some foreign armies and in some branches of some foreign armies does not require an oath of allegiance to a foreign state. On the other hand, an oath of allegiance is required as a condition of service in other foreign armies. The Department can not give authentic information on the subject of the foreign requirements in this respect, because of their variation and because they are subject to changes.

The Department does not undertake to prescribe the duty of an individual with reference to his citizenship. It is of opinion, nevertheless, that the observance of neutrality in the conflicts now engaging [Page 773] certain European powers requires American citizens to avoid participation in those conflicts.

  1. Ante, p. 767.