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[204] thus, unnaturalized foreigners are divided into two categories, a distinction which the undersigned cannot admit.

The “Order” says that the required “oath will not be, as it has never been, forced upon any;” that “it is too sacred an obligation, too exalted in its tenure, and brings with it too many benefits and privileges, to be profaned by unwilling lip-service ;” that “all persons shall be deemed to have been citizens of the United States who shall have been resident therein for the space of five years and upwards, and, if foreign-born, shall not have claimed and received a protection of their government, duly signed and registered by the proper officer, more than sixty days previous to the publication of this order.”

Whence it follows that foreigners are placed on the same footing with the native-born and naturalized citizens, and in the alternative either of being deprived of their means of existence or forced implicitly to take the required oath if they wish to ask and do receive “any favor, protection, privilege, passport, or to have money paid them, property or other valuable thing whatever delivered to them, or any benefit of the power of the United States extended to them, except protection from personal violence.”

Now, of course, when a foreigner does not wish to submit to the laws of the country of which he is a resident, he is invariably and everywhere at liberty to leave that country. But here he does not even enjoy that privilege; for to leave, he must procure a passport, to obtain which he must take an oath that he is unwilling to take; and yet that oath “is so sacred and so exalted in its tenure that it must not be profaned by unwilling lip-service.”

It is true that the “Order” excepts those foreigners who claimed and received the protection of their government more than sixty days previous to its publication; but this exception is merely nominal, because the very great majority of foreigners never had any cause hitherto, in this country, to ask, and therefore to receive a “protection of their government.” Besides, this exception implies an interference with the interior administration of foreign governments — an act contrary to the laws of nations. Whether the foreign residents have or have not complied with the laws and edicts of their own governments is a matter between them and their consuls, and the undersigned deny the right of any foreign power to meddle with, and still less to enforce, the laws of their respective countries, as far as their fellow-citizens are concerned. When a consul extends the high protection of his government to such of his countrymen as are neither naturalized nor charged with any breach of the laws of the country in which they reside, he is to be supported by a friendly government; for it is a law in all civilized countries that if foreigners must submit to the laws of the country in which they reside, they and à fortiori their consuls, must, in exchange of that respect for those laws, receive due protection; that protection, in fact, which the foreigners have invariably enjoyed in this country up to the present time. Now, foreigners are deprived of that protection unless they become citizens of the United States; and this is done without a warning, and in opposition to the laws of the United States concerning the mode in which foreigners may become citizens of this country. The undersigned must remark that a just law can have no retroactive action, and can be enforced only from the day of its promulgation, while the order requires that acts should have been done, the necessity of which was unforeseen, especially in this country.

The required oath is contrary not only to the rights, duty, and dignity of foreigners, who are all “free born,” but also to the dignity of the Government of the United States, and even to the spirit of the order itself.

1. Because it virtually forces a certain class of foreigners, in order to save their property, to swear “true faith and allegiance” to the United States, and thereby to “renounce and abjure” that true faith and allegiance which they owe to their own country only, while naturalization is, and can be, but an act of free will; and because it is disgraceful for any “free man” to do, through motives of material interest, those moral acts which are repugnant to his conscience.

If the order merely required the English oath of “allegiance,” it might be argued, according to the definition given by Blackstone, (i. p. 370,) that said oath signifies only the submission of foreigners to the police laws of the country in which they reside; but the oath, as worded in the “order,” is a virtual act of naturalization. A citizen of the United States might take the oath, although act six of the Federal Constitution, and the act of Congress of June first, 1789, do not require as much. But no consideration can compel a foreigner to take such an oath.

2. Because, if, according to the order, the “highest title known was really that of an American citizen,” it would be the very reason why it should be sought after, and not imposed upon the unwilling, whether openly or impliedly.

3. Because, while the order advocates the “neutrality imposed upon foreigners by their sovereigns,” it virtually tends to violate that neutrality, not by forcing them openly to take up arms and bravely shed their blood in defence even of a cause that is not their own, but by enjoining upon them, if they wish to redeem their property, to descend to the level of spies and denunciators for the benefit of the United States.

The undersigned will close by remarking that their countrymen, since the beginning of this war, have been neutral. As such they cannot be considered and treated as a conquered population. The conquered may be submitted to exceptional laws; but neutral foreigners have a right to be treated as they have always been by the Government of the United States.

We have the honor to be, General, your most obedient servants,

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