File No. 811.2222/3800

The Ambassador in Italy ( Page) to the Secretary of State


1412. Your 1070, 9th.1 Following is full text requested:

I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that the new draft of agreement concerning military service, which was sent to me in note 191 [1901] January 9, has been approved by this Government after a careful examination by the Royal [proper] Ministries; this Government is, however, desirous of inserting a few slight alterations and additions as follows:

Article 3. In order to facilitate and hasten work of exemption, this Government believes it would be well to extend the power granted to the diplomatic representatives of the two contracting Governments, to other authorities also specially appointed. For this purpose it would be required to add after the words “through [their] respective diplomatic representatives” the clause “or by the other authorities appointed for that purpose by the respective Governments.”

Article 4. This Government wishes to confirm its desire to extend the measures for arrest and consignment also to deserters of the [Page 672] merchant marine. It is compelled to insist on this by the absolute necessity of forestalling and preventing desertions from merchant vessels, which [seriously] injure and obstruct the proper working of maritime traffic. It would be required therefore to add to the text of the article the following short paragraph: “The same measures apply to deserters from merchant vessels. Should the Government of the United States have no objection it would be also appreciated if similarly to the stipulation in the Italian-English agreement of December 11, 1917, the reading relative to the arrest and the consignment of deserters from the armed forces should apply not only to those who may desert after the date of the ratification of the agreement, but also to all those Italians who may have avoided military service by leaving the Kingdom after the date of Italian mobilization.

Hence it would be required to add to article 4 the following sentence: “The same treatment shall apply to Italians who are recalcitrants or deserters or in any way bound to military service and who left the Kingdom after May 23, 1915.”

Article 5. This Government, while approving fully the reading of the text of the first sentence of the article, concerning those who are possessed of double citizenship, is desirous of suppressing the second sentence, which refers to Italian citizens possessing first papers of American citizenship and called [up] for military service in accordance with the “Selective Service Act” of May 18, 1917.

While requesting this suppression this Government does not, however, mean to create opposition to the enforcement of the said United States law on military service, against which no protest is entered; it desires above all the removal of a measure which would almost constitute an invitation to Italians who have emigrated to begin proceedings for the acquisition of American citizenship and the severance of all ties with Italy.

Articles to be added. Lastly this Government proposes to add three articles: the treatment of soldiers and their families; the equalizing of military service; and readmission into their country of residence of those who left it to do military service. These articles might be inserted between article 7 and article 8 of the United States draft and be formulated as in enclosed note.1

The first of them, concerning the treatment, is a verbatim reproduction of the paragraph of article 4 of the Italian-English agreement.

The second, which has as its object the equalization of the service already mentioned in the first draft, article 7, of the Federal Government, is also modeled on the text of the Italian-English agreement: its first two paragraphs are the verbatim reproduction of article 8 of the said agreement; the third paragraph is similar to the second paragraph of article 5 of the same agreement, and its purpose is to enable those men who wish to take advantage of the equivalent service—men who, bound by military obligations to one of the two countries [Page 673] and being located on the territory of the other, escaped the enforcement of the agreement, or in other words, cannot be compelled to serve in the country where they are residing.

This, for example, would be the condition in the United States of Italians possessed of double citizenship and mentioned in article 5 of the draft, who because of their age would not be drafted in the United States, and also of those who have lost their Italian citizenship but are still under obligations of military service in the Kingdom according to article 8 of the law on Italian citizenship.

The third article, concerning the readmission to the United States of Italians who left that country to answer the call to arms, treats of a matter which is of great interest to the Royal Government and it is merely a confirmation of a measure already included in the Italian counter-draft presented by the Royal Ambassador at Washington to the Federal Government last December.1

I would be extremely grateful to Your Excellency if you would as soon as possible let me have a courteous answer to this note, and I avail myself of this opportunity, et cetera. (Signed) Sonnino.

[Proposed additional articles]

Article 8. The citizens of either of the two contracting parties who in accordance with the terms of this agreement are liable to perform military service in the Army of the other shall be treated in the same manner as the citizens of the country of their actual residence in all matters concerning salaries, allowances, pensions, furloughs and discharges for reasons of health, or others.

Article 9. The military service performed in the Army of either of the two countries in accordance with the present agreement shall be considered as equivalent.

Each of the two Governments reserves for itself the right to determine, according to its own laws, the effects of service however rendered by its own citizens in the country of the other, having regard to their military obligations under the respective national laws.

Either of the two Governments undertakes to permit the men who are not obliged to perform military service in the country of their residence according to the terms of the present agreement, but who may have military obligations to fulfill according to the laws of the other, to perform voluntary service in the Army of the country of their residence as stated in the present article.

Article 10. The readmission into either of the two countries of those who returned to their own country even previous to the date of this agreement in order to fulfill their obligations of military service consequent upon the present war cannot be denied on account of circumstances or conditions existing before their return to their own country or which were brought about as a result of the said service.

Nelson Page
  1. Not printed; see footnote 1, ante, p. 662.
  2. See “Proposed additional articles,” infra.
  3. Not printed.