File No. 811.2222/4462

The Ambassador in France ( Sharp) to the Secretary of State


3242. My 3224, February 20, 11 p.m.1 Foreign Office has replied that while there has been no time in which to consult with the Minister of War regarding the convention proposed in your telegram No. 3193, [February] 16,2 nevertheless the Foreign Office accepts [Page 692] the text as submitted, reserving, however, its consent regarding the age limit for French citizens as mentioned in article 1, “in respect to citizens of France in the United States the ages for military service shall be for the time being 20 to 40 years.” On this point the Minister for Foreign Affairs states that without having an assurance of agreement from the Minister of War to accept a determination as to military obligations of Frenchmen which differs from the requirements of the recruiting law, it would not be possible to consent definitely to the age limit determined by the proposed convention. This question must be submitted to a special examination with a view to determining whether a modification can be made. In the meantime it is understood that the matter has been brought by the Foreign Office to the attention of the Minister of War with the request that a decision be made as quickly as possible. It is estimated that the minimum and maximum age limits for military service should be for French citizens that which is prescribed by the French Legation [legislation].

Monsieur Pichon asks this further question in his note, namely, whether the Federal Government intends to require the return to the United States of American citizens of military age who desire to serve in their National Army, or whether on the contrary their incorporation in the American troops in France would not seem preferable. Should this be the case article 5 of the proposed new convention would have to be modified if this affectation [disposition?] of Americans residing in France was considered as the normal procedure.

In a previous note from Monsieur Pichon, which crossed with the communication made him in conformity with your telegram No. 3193, [February] 16, he states, and he adheres thereto in his note now in question, that in article 3 it seems advisable to specify that the Embassies of both Powers shall respectively be qualified to deliver certificates of exemption; this authority would thus present itself under its normal aspect, whereas, according to the English text it might be understood as facultative.

Monsieur Pichon’s note further states that there are a few minor details which would appear to warrant precision when drawing up the French text of the convention, such for instance as the translation of the word “application “in article 2 by the word “declaration,” which would seem more appropriate in French to express the spontaneous character and normal purpose of a step which the American authorities consider as a necessary formality, and he expresses the belief that it would be very easy for the Counselor of this Embassy and the Under-Director at the Foreign Office to agree on a French version of the convention which will translate exactly [Page 693] the intentions of the American Government rather than following the English text to the letter.

The Minister terminates in stating that he would be happy if the present communication permits the American Government to inform Congress that the French Government accepts in its entirety the proposal which I have communicated in my Government’s name.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Ante, p. 677.