The Secretary of State to the French Ambassador (Saint-Quentin)

Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of October 25, 1938, referring to the Department’s communication of May 25, 1938, concerning children born in the United States to fathers who at the time were French consular officers. Reference is made to the statement contained in the communication of May 25, 1938, concerning the loss of American citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance to a foreign state, but it is stated in the communication under acknowledgment that while the solution of the problem of the termination of dual nationality arising in this class of cases appears to be satisfactory in principle there does not appear to be any provision of French law providing for the taking of an oath of allegiance to France. The proposal is therefore made that a person who was born in the United States of a father who was at the time a French consular officer be considered as having renounced American allegiance when he shall have made a declaration before certain designated officials of his intention to retain only the nationality of France.

It is regretted that there is no provision in the law of the United States under which citizenship may be lost by following the suggestion contained in the communication under acknowledgment. It may be added, however, that there was submitted by the President to Congress at its last session certain recommendations regarding the acquisition and loss of citizenship in the United States. There was included among the recommendations a provision that an American citizen may, among other methods, cease to be such a citizen by renouncing citizenship before an American consular officer abroad. [Page 354]It cannot, of course, be anticipated what action will be taken by the Congress upon these recommendations.19 For the present citizenship in the United States can be lost only under the methods now prescribed by the laws of this country. Consequently, the present proposal could not be accepted nor is it possible for the Department to make any other proposal with a view to terminating dual nationality in the cases of children born in the United States of French consular officers.

Accept [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
G. S. Messersmith
  1. Recommendations were submitted by President Roosevelt to Congress on June 13, 1938; the resultant legislation was the Nationality Act of 1940, section 401 (b) of which provided for loss of nationality by a person who is a national of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization by “Taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state.” (Congressional Record, vol. 83, pt. 8, p. 9002; 54 Stat. 1137, 1169.)