851 W.512/11

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

No. 2052

Sir: The Department encloses for your information copies of a despatch dated August 14, 1926 from the American Consul at Tananarive, Madagascar,58a and of its enclosures, together with a copy of the Consul’s communication of May 25, 1926 to the Governor General of Madagascar,58b referred to in the despatch, which deal with the discriminations in Madagascar against American citizens and other aliens with respect to the purchase of domanial concessions and the right to possess real estate as well as with respect to certain forms of taxation. It will be observed that the Consul has endeavored to have American citizens relieved from these discriminations in view of the provisions of Article 7 of the Consular Convention of 1853 between the United [Page 131] States and France, but that his efforts, up to the present time, have not been successful.

It may be stated with respect to the question of the applicability of the Consular Convention of 1853 to Madagascar that in a note dated July 22, 1896, the French Ambassador at this capital in informing the Department of the annexation of Madagascar to France stated that the annexation had “the effect of extending to the great African island the whole of the conventions concluded between France and the United States, which are henceforward to replace the Madagascar Treaty of May 13, 1881”. (Foreign Relations, 1896, page 133).

Article 7 of the Consular Convention of 1853 with France provides as follows:

“In all the States of the Union whose existing laws permit it, so long and to the same extent as the said laws shall remain in force, Frenchmen shall enjoy the right of possessing personal and real property by the same title and in the same manner as the citizens of the United States. They shall be free to dispose of it as they may please, either gratuitously, or for value received, by donation, testament, or otherwise, just as those citizens themselves; and in no case shall they be subjected to taxes on transfer, inheritance, or any others different from those paid by the latter, or to taxes which shall not be equally imposed.

“As to the States of the Union by whose existing laws aliens are not permitted to hold real estate, the President engages to recommend to them the passage of such laws as may be necessary for the purpose of conferring this right.

“In like manner, but with the reservation of the ulterior right of establishing reciprocity in regard to possesion and inheritance, the government of France accords to the citizens of the United States the same rights within its territory, in respect to real and personal property and to inheritance, as are enjoyed there by its own citizens.”

It seems clear that this article guarantees to American citizens in France, on the basis of reciprocity, national treatment with respect to the possession and transfer of property and the payment of taxes arising in connection therewith. The French Foreign Office in its note to your Embassy dated November 24, 1925, a copy of which was transmitted to the Department with the Embassy’s despatch No. 5778 of November 30, 1925,59 stated moreover “that from Article 7 of the Franco-American Consular Convention of February 23, 1853, it results in fact that American citizens in France and French citizens in the United States are assimilated to nationals as regards the payment of or exemptions from taxes.”

You are accordingly requested to bring the discriminations referred to by the Consul at Tananarive to the attention of the French Foreign Office and to express the hope that in view of the provisions of [Page 132] Article 7 of the Consular Convention of 1853, American citizens in Madagascar will be accorded the right to purchase domanial land and to possess real property on the same basis as French citizens, and further that they will be accorded national treatment with respect to taxation. You will submit a report to the Department regarding this matter.

A copy of this instruction is being sent to the American Consul at Tananarive for his information and guidance.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Joseph C. Grew
  1. Supra.
  2. Enclosures to despatch of August 14 and the communication of May 25, 1926, to the Governor General of Madagascar, not printed.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. ii, p. 131.