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

No. 1398

Sir: Referring to your instruction No. 491 of December 1, 1928,60 I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy and translation of a Note — No. 171 of September 12, 1929, from the Spanish Government61 submitting a new draft of an agreement regarding military service as a substitute for our draft.

In explanation of the delay in forwarding this Note and enclosure, I should say that it seemed to me there was obviously an error in the text as written, for it did not appear to me to make sense. I, therefore, awaited an occasion to confer personally with the official, who had charge of these matters, and saw him last week upon his return from leave.

There is no error, and the Department may think I was stupid in not understanding the text, but I still find the unilateral form in which it is written confusing, and think it requires explanation.

[Page 484]
  • Art. 1—Protects persons born of Spanish parents in the United States from military service in Spain.
  • Art. 2—Protects persons born of Spanish parents in the United States from having to do military service in the United States if they have in the meanwhile returned to Spain and done their military service.

Thus, only one category of persons is spoken of. No mention is made of persons born in Spain of American parents, nor of naturalized Americans.

In regard to the former, it was explained to me that such persons are not considered as Spaniards, although they have the right to opt for Spanish nationality on coming of age, and they are therefore not entitled to the privilege of performing their military service, unless, and until they have opted.

It was made quite clear to me that military service is to be regarded as a high privilege, and not as a compulsory duty, and that the Spanish War Office was unwilling to have any Article inserted in the Treaty which might lower the bars to the admission of aliens into the Spanish Army!

As regards naturalized Americans of Spanish origin, i. e., persons born in Spain of Spanish parents, they were unwilling to make any concessions in the present laws governing their military obligations, or, as I suppose I should say, privileges.

I have [etc.]

Sheldon Whitehouse
  1. See instruction No. 2993, December 1, 1928, to the Ambassador in France. Foreign Relations, 1928, vol. i, p. 499.
  2. Not printed.