The Chargé in France (Whitehouse) to the Secretary of State

No. 6218

Sir: I have the honor to refer to Instructions No. 649 dated May 11, 1923 and No. 1613 dated July 8, 192531 relative to the Department’s desire that a treaty of naturalization be negotiated with the Government of the French Republic.

For several months a Secretary of this Embassy has been making informal verbal representations at the Foreign Office regarding the question of a treaty concerning the naturalization in the United States of French citizens, and there is now transmitted herewith a draft of a treaty which appears to meet the views of both Governments.32

At the Foreign Office M. Pillaut and M. Vieilleville [Viefville] stated in informal conversation that, although personally very sympathetic, they doubt whether, in view of the long established provisions of the “Code Civil”, the Ministries of Justice, War and Foreign Affairs could find a way to ameliorate the situation in order to conform with the draft of a treaty inclosed in the Department’s Instruction of May 11, 1923.33 However, they stated that they are of the belief that the following might be accomplished regarding cases which have developed up to the present time:

A French born child, having proceeded to the United States with his parents more than five years previous to the calling of his class to the colors, and having subsequently become a naturalized American citizen by due process of law and shown intention upon attaining [Page 109] his majority, of continuing to inhabit the United States, might be recognized by the French Government as having validly adopted American citizenship. In cases arising in the future the same would hold true provided the father himself had fulfilled the French military requirements before proceeding to the United States, and had there become naturalized and there resided until the child arrived at his majority.

It was further stated that an amnesty might be established in favor of those persons who had fulfilled their French military obligations before emigrating to the United States but who had not acquired American citizenship previous to the outbreak of hostilities in 1914.

It was stated that no clemency can be shown to those who in the past had left France in time of war, or in the future to those who leave France less than five years previous to the call to the colors of their class; to those who forsake their families in France in emigrating and becoming naturalized abroad; or to persons who leave France with an unexpiated crime or misdemeanor against them.

The representatives of the Foreign Office further stated that, understanding the desire of the American Government to avoid difficulties in cases of dual nationality, they feel that their Government might accord general amnesty in all past cases except the latter of those mentioned above, provided that the United States Government would consent to include in the regulations governing naturalization in the United States, a clause stipulating that French citizens cannot become validly naturalized American citizens without first having satisfied the French military requirements, or having obtained the permission of the French Government to forswear their French citizenship.

There is transmitted herewith for the Department’s information a summary of the points which it is the aim of the proposed draft to ameliorate.34 These points are classified under three headings as follows:

—Points which France will probably regulate in accordance with the desires of the United States Government.
—Points which France might possibly regulate in accordance with the desires of the United States Government.
—Points which France will not concede or cannot concede without appropriate legislation.

M. Pillaut stated he will prepare a draft of a treaty along the lines suggested above. The Embassy at this time transmits its tentative draft in order that the Department’s views may be obtained on the various points raised.

I have [etc.]

Sheldon Whitehouse
  1. Instructions not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Neither printed.
  4. Not printed.