The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Straus)
Sir: The Department has received your despatches Nos. 1547 of January 22, 1935, 1816 of April 24, 1935, and 2099 of August 17, 193586 regarding the liability of American citizens to perform military service in France.
It is observed from the note of April 18, 1935,87 from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a copy of which accompanied your despatch No. 1816 above mentioned, that delinquents under the French military laws who are naturalized as foreigners can under no circumstances obtain authorization to sojourn in France.
With your despatch No. 2099, above referred to, you enclose a copy of a Foreign Office note of July 10, 1935,87 in which it is stated that the Ministries for Foreign Affairs and of War have decided that sauf-conduits may be accorded to Frenchmen residing abroad who are considered to be delinquents under military law if they have dual nationality as a result of the application of the laws of the country wherein they reside, provided that they have not already been condemned by default by a Military Tribunal.
It is requested that you endeavor to ascertain and inform the Department as to how far the French Foreign Office note of April 18, 1935 [Page 133] is a limitation on the French Foreign Office note of July 10, 1935. What is meant by the expression “if they have dual nationality as a result of the application of the laws of the country wherein they reside”, which is contained in the note of July 10, 1935? Does the expression refer only to persons born in the United States of French parents, or does it also apply to persons born in France who are naturalized in the United States in their own right or through the naturalization of their parents? On pages 35 and 37  Sections (b) and (c) of the Notice to Bearers of Passports, edition of March 27, 1935, it is stated that sauf-conduits may be issued to persons born in France who were naturalized as American citizens before they were declared to be defaulters and also to persons born in France who were naturalized as American citizens after they were declared defaulters. Does the note of July 10, 1935, mean that sauf-conduits will no longer be issued to persons in either or both of the categories just mentioned? If the sauf-conduits will not be issued in such cases, the statements made in the above-mentioned sections of the Notice must be changed. Two copies of the current Notice to Bearers of Passports, revised as of March 27, 1935, are enclosed.
It is also requested that you endeavor to ascertain from the appropriate French officials, and furnish to the Department, an interpretation of Sections (1) and (3) of Article IX of the French Nationality Law of August 10, 1927. It is assumed that Article IX (1) of the French Law of August 10, 1927 has reference to a Frenchman who, after attaining the age of twenty-one years, has been naturalized as a citizen of the United States and that such a person is not considered as having French nationality if he has obtained special authorization to renounce French nationality from the French Government, or ten years have elapsed from the date of his enlistment into active service in the French army or the entry of his name on the military liability list, in case he is excused from active service. The section of French law under discussion seems to apply only to one who at his own request acquires a foreign nationality. Under the naturalization laws of the United States an alien cannot by his own act be naturalized as a citizen of the United States until he shall have attained the age of twenty-one years. It would therefore seem to be advisable to modify the first sentence in Section D on page 38 by the insertion after the word “citizen” and before the word “would” appearing in line three, the words “after attaining the age of twenty-one years”. Unless such insertion is made, it is possible that the section of French law under discussion may be considered as applicable not only to a Frenchman who was naturalized upon his own petition but also to a Frenchman who was naturalized while a minor through the naturalization of his French parent.
Article IX (3) of the French law of August 10, 1927, is assumed [Page 134] by the Department to refer to a person who was born in the United States of French parents and consequently acquired American citizenship under Article XIV of the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States and French nationality under the provisions of French law, or to one who was born in France or elsewhere of French parents and who acquired American citizenship while a minor through the naturalization of his parent. The Department further assumes that such a person can divest himself of French nationality only by specific authorization of the French Government and that application for such authorization may be made either before or after attaining majority.
The views of the Department with regard to the meaning of Sections (1) and (3) of Article IX of the French law of August 10, 1927, would appear to coincide with opinions previously expressed by your office, but the Department deems it desirable that you endeavor to ascertain whether such views coincide with the interpretation placed upon these sections by the appropriate French authorities.
Very truly yours,