. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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
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
Please accept [etc.]
For the President of the Council,
Minister for Foreign
Affairs and by order:
Ambassador, Secretary General