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

No. 1295

Sir: Referring to my cablegram No. 1232 of the 1st instant,35 and to previous correspondence regarding the situation of persons of dual nationality who come to France without having discharged their military obligations under the French law, I have the honor to transmit herewith in copy and translation a Note dated June 7th from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, in which the status of the several classes of such persons is defined.

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Hugh C. Wallace

The French Minister for Foreign Affairs (Millerand) to the American Ambassador

Mr. Ambassador: In reply to the notes of the Embassy under date of April 3rd and 29th last, I have the honor to inform you that the Minister of War has examined the situation of French deserters and defaulters who, having acquired American nationality, take up residence on French territory.

As regards deserters, as they can in no case plead their good faith, and as, moreover, the law demands their appearance before the Court Martial, no favor can be granted them.

As regards defaulters, in whose interest indulgent measures have been considered, the Minister of War will decide their case according [Page 944] to the following distinctions, in the establishment of which account has been taken, both of the date of the acquisition by them of American nationality and the date on which they were declared defaulters.

1. Those born in America of French parents shall be considered as released from their military obligations in France if they have satisfied the American military law and they will not be molested in case they return to France.

2. Those born in France, but who acquired American nationality before they were declared to be defaulters, may, if they have enlisted in the American Army, be admitted for temporary residence in France without risk of molestation for their offense of default; it will be sufficient for them to request to this end a special authorization from the French Embassy at Washington which, in granting it to them, will fix the duration of their residence.

Those among them who may have been exempted from military service in the United States for reasons of health, may be definitely taken off the list of control of defaulters in France on condition that they are also considered by the physician which the French Embassy will designate as unfit for French military service.

3. Those who have only acquired American nationality after their declaration as defaulters shall be treated as follows:

If the default dates before the war, the law shall be rigorously applied, the principle of the allowance for services, the benefit of which has been recognized as granted to the said defaulters, applying to the period of service accomplished during the war, but not effacing the offense of default for which they will continue to have to answer on their return to France.

If the declaration of default is subsequent to the beginning of hostilities, their names will be taken off the list of control of defaulters in case they enlisted in the American Army before they were called in France, but they will remain liable for the remainder of their regular period of service after application of the allowance for service. In all other cases, proceedings remain “possible”.

On the other hand, it will devolve on the Minister of War to decide concerning the particular cases which may arise from the putting in operation of the principles thus laid down, which, moreover, only bear on penal procedure for default; the prescriptions of the Civil Code relative to the attribution of French nationality, jure sanguinis and the necessity of an authorization of the Government for the valid acquisition in the eyes of French law of a foreign nationality by means of naturalization remaining outside the question.

I am asking the French Ambassador at Washington to inform the Federal Government of these general decisions; I wish however, to [Page 945] communicate them to Your Excellency in the hope that you will appreciate the good will shown by the Government of the Republic to give the greatest satisfaction possible to the desiderata of American opinion in this important matter.

Please accept [etc.]

For the President of the Council,
Minister for Foreign Affairs and by order:

The French Ambassador, Secretary General
  1. Not printed.