Mr. Uhl to Mr. Vignaud .

No. 362.]

Sir: I inclose for your information a copy of a correspondence between Capt. A. S. Crowninshield, U. S. N., and the Department with regard to the possibility of a claim on the part of the French Government to exact military service of his son, Caspar Schuyler Crowninshield, on the ground of his birth in France and his present residence there. As elucidating the general principle involved in this case you are referred to the Hubbard correspondence, printed on pages 491494 of the volume of Foreign Relations for the year 1891.

In addition to the considerations adduced in the Department’s letter to Captain Crowninshield, it is to be noted that young Crowninshield was born of American parents while his father was on official station in French waters as an officer of the United States Navy. It does not appear that France has the slightest claim to this young man’s allegiance, and it is not thought likely that any such claim will be made.

The representations of Captain Crowninshield appear to be based on apprehensions alleged to have been expressed by you in a conversation with young Crowninshield, and not on an actual case raised by the French authorities. It will probably suffice to issue a passport to him, if he has not one already, and to procure his registration at the prefecture on the usual footing of a three months’ sojourner.

I am, etc.,

Edwin F. Uhl,
Acting Secretary
[Inclosure 1 in No. 362.]

Captain Crowninshield to Mr. Gresham .

Sir: My son, Caspar Schuyler Crowninshield, was born at Nice, France, June 1, 1871; he left there with his parents July 4, 1871, and has never returned there.

At the time of my son’s birth I was serving on board a United States ship of war of the European squadron as an officer of the Navy and my wife was, residing temporarily at Nice.

[Page 426]

Since last October he has resided in Paris as an art student.

On February 1, 1895, when my son applied to the United States embassy in Paris for a “letter of identification” in order to comply with the French regulation requiring registration at the perfecture of all foreigners residing in France over three months, he was informed by the secretary of our embassy that the French Government would try, on account of the place of his birth, to force him to serve three years in the French army. The secretary thought that my son could not be forced to serve in the French army, but he said that the French authorities might cause him much trouble and require him to pay a large sum of money.

That any question should be raised by the United States embassy regarding my son’s status as a citizen of the United States, in view of section 1993, Revised Statutes, is to me astounding.

This matter has caused my son very considerable anxiety, so much so that he has seriously thought of abandoning his studies in Paris and returning to the United States.

In view of the foregoing, I have the honor to respectfully request that such instructions as this case appears to warrant may be given the United States ambassador to France, regarding my son’s full and complete title to American citizenship, and that he is no more liable to be called upon to serve in the French army or to pay any fine than is any other American citizen.

Very respectfully,

A. S. Crowninshield,
Captain, U. S. Navy

The Hon. Secretary of State,
Washington, D. C.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 362.]

Mr. Gresham to Captain Crowninshield .

Sir: Your letter in regard to the possibility of a claim on the part of the French Government to exact military service of your son, Caspar Schuyler Crowninshield, on the ground of his birth in France and personal residence there, has been received.

The clause of the French law of nationality which the secretary of embassy seems to suppose applicable to your son’s case (article 8) reads as follows: These are French * * *

4. Any person born in France of foreign parents and who at the time of his majority is domiciled in France, unless within the year following such majority, as fixed by French law, he has declined French nationality and proved that he has retained the nationality of his parents by means of an attestation in due form from his Government, which attestation shall remain attached to his declaration, and by producing, besides, if there is occasion to do so, a certificate showing that he has complied with the call to perform military service in accordance with the military laws of his country.

This provision appears to concern those persons who, being born in France of foreign parents, continue to dwell there during minority, and treating them as invested with a dual status, gives them one year after attaining majority within which to elect either French nationality or that of their parents. It does not appear to affect those who, like your son, have been removed from France soon after birth and thereafter dwell and come of age in the country of their parents’ allegiance. [Page 427] Your son, born at Nice, June 1, 1871, was taken thence by his parents a few weeks later, July 4, 1871, and never returned to France until last October, when, being over 23 years of age, he went to Paris as an art student.

No claim to your son’s military service appears to have been made by the French authorities, but a copy of your letter and of this reply will be sent to the United States ambassador at Paris, and Mr. Eustis will be instructed that, in the event of any such claim, this Government would hold that your son, being born a citizen of the United States, under our laws has conserved his status and perfected it as against any conflicting claim on the part of France by continuous domicile in the United States during minority and entrance upon all the rights of American citizenship on attaining majority.

Without discussing the hypothetical question whether, in such a case, option and declaration are required in France within the year after attaining majority, it is clear that the year having elapsed without your son having been within French jurisdiction no retroactive declaration can now be demanded of him. He is to be regarded as having precisely the same status in France as any other adult citizen of the United States visiting that country; and Mr. Eustis will be instructed to attest the fact of such citizenship by the issuance of a passport to him on the usual evidence of right thereto.

I am, etc.,

W. Q. Gresham