Mr. Dix to Mr. Seward
Sir: In my dispatch No. 173 I stated the condition of the question in regard to natives of France naturalized in the United States being held to account for their failure to comply with the laws of the former country exacting military service.
Since then a case has been disposed of in the most satisfactory manner.
Jules Pinon left France for the United States in 1851, at 16 years of age. In the same year he declared his intention to become a citizen of the latter country; but his papers did not show that he was naturalized until the 1st November, 1866.
In 1854 he was conscripted in France; 12 years before, as would seem by his papers, his naturalization as a citizen of the United States was consummated; the civil tribunal, before which he was summoned, declared that he had lost, as the Code Napoleon expresses it,” the quality of a Frenchman,” a declaration which, under the rule referred to in my dispatch, exempted him from military service. He was then brought before a council of war to account for his default, and, although he had only been naturalized a little more than a year, he was unanimously acquitted of all liability for failing to comply with the conscription act, under which he had been enrolled, and was discharged.
This decision leaves nothing to be desired. The case is precisely like that of Hirsch, alluded to in my dispatch, except that Pinon had been a longer time in default; and I can only account for the difference in the result by the supposition that the latter satisfied the council of war that he went to the United States with the bona fide intention of becoming a citizen. These examinations always take place in the vicinity of the localities from which the parties emigrate, and it is probably not difficult in most instances to show circumstances attending their change of domicile which may go far to manifest the intention of the parties, and to prove good faith, or the want of it, in leaving their homes just as they are attaining the age at which they become liable to military service.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.