headquarters Department of the Gulf, New-Orleans, La., June 16, 1862.gentlemen: Your protest against General Orders, No. 41, has been received. It appears more like a labored argument, in which the imagination has been drawn on for the facts to support it. Were it not that some of the idiomatic expressions of the document show that it was composed by some one born in the English tongue, I should have supposed that many of the misconceptions of the purport of the order, which appear in the protest, arose from an imperfect acquaintance with the peculiarities of our language. As it is, I am obliged to believe that the faithlessness of the Englishman who translated the order to you, and wrote the protest, will account for the misapprehensions under which you labor in regard to its terms. The order prescribes-- I. A form of oath, to be taken by those who claim to be citizens of the United States, and those only who desire to hold office, civil or military, under the laws of the United States, or who desire some act to be done in their favor by the officers of the United States in this department, other than protection from personal violence, which is afforded to all. With that oath, of course, the alien has nothing to do. But there is a large class of foreign-born persons here who, by their acts, have lost their nationalities. Familiar examples of that class are those subjects of France (Francais) who, in contravention of the Code Civile, have, without authorization from the Emperor, joined themselves to (the) a military organization of a foreign State, (s'afilicrait à une corporation militaire etrangere,) or received military commissions (fonctions publiques, conferees par un gouvernement etranger) from the governor thereof, or who have left France without intention of returning, (sans esprit de retour,) or, as in the case of the Greek Consul, have taken the office of opener and examiner of letters in the post-office of the confederate States, or the Prussian Consul, who is still leading a recruited body of his countrymen in the rebel army. As many of such aliens had been naturalized, and many of the bad men among them had concealed the fact of their naturalization, it became necessary, in order to meet the case of these bad men, to prescribe some rule by which those foreign-born who might not be entitled to the protection of their several governments, or had heretofore become naturalized citizens of the United States, might be distinguished from those foreigners who were still to be treated as neutrals. This rule must be a comprehensive one, and one easily to be understood, because it was for the guidance of subordinate officers, who should be called upon to administer the proper oath. Therefore, it was provided that all those who had resided here five years--a length of time that would seem to be sufficient evidence that they had not the intention of returning, (esprit de retour,) and who should not have, in that time, claimed certificate of nationality, called commonly a “protection” of their government, should, for this purpose, be deemed prima facie, of course, American citizens, and should, if they desired any favor or protection of the Government, save from violence, take the oath of allegiance. But it is complained that the order further provides that they must have received that “protection” sixty days previous to the date of the order, so as to have the “protection” avail them. The reason of this limitation was that, as some of the consuls had gone into the rebel army, and some of the consuls had been aiding the rebellion here, and as “protections” had been given by some of the consuls to those who were not entitled to them, for the purpose of enabling the holders to evade the blockade, it was necessary to make some limitations to secure good faith. Indeed, gentlemen, you will remember that all rules and regulations are made to restrain bad men, and not the good. For instance : if I allowed the “protections” given now to avail for this purpose, that Prussian Consul might give them to the whole of his militia company that live to get back; and they might come, claiming to be neutral, as did that British guard who sent their arms and equipments to Beauregard. The naturalization laws of the United States were in abeyance for want of United States courts here. These provisions permitted all foreigners who had resided here five years and not claimed the protection of their government, who felt disposed to avail themselves of them, and thus become entitled to the high privileges of an American citizen, which so many foreigners value so greatly that they leave their own prosperous, peaceful, and happy countries to come and live here, even although allowed to enjoy those privileges to a limited degree only. So greatly do they compliment us upon our laws that they prefer to, and insist upon, stopping here, even at the risk of being exposed to the chances of our intestine war, which chances they seem willing to take, in preference to living in peace at home under laws enacted by their own sovereigns. But it is said that, unless foreigners take the oath of allegiance, they will not be allowed a “passport.” This is an entire mistake, and probably comes from confounding a “pass” through my lines, which I grant or withhold for military reasons, with a “passport,” which must be given a foreigner by his own government. The order refuses all “passports” to American citizens who do not take the oath of allegiance; but it nowhere meddles with the “passports” of foreigners, with which I have nothing to do. There is nothing compulsory about this order.
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