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The distinction between aliens and citizens.

The following correspondence has just been published. It gives the opinion of Chief Justice Pearson, one of the most eminent Judges of the Confederate Courts, upon a subject which is of vast interest to a large number of the residents of the South:


His Honor, Chief Justice Pearson:
Having seen the proclamation of the President of the Confederate States, I am desirous of knowing whether I am affected by it, or would be considered a citizen as if a native.

I was born in the State of New York in 1795, and in 1820 removed to North Carolina, where I have resided ever since. I married in North Carolina: all my property is here; am an acting Justice of the Peace in Yadkin, and have been for many years, and have held offices of trust and profit under the State, and have repeatedly sworn allegiance to North Carolina. I settled here to remain permanently, and have never altered my intention of remaining. Am I required to do any act under that proclamation? An answer will oblige,

Yours, truly,
Jas. R. Dodge.
Yadkin, N. C., Aug. 24, 1861.

Richmond Hill, Aug. 26, 1861.
James R. Dodge, Esq.--Dear Sir:
Upon the facts stated in your note of the 24th inst., my opinion is, that the act of the Congress of the Confederate States promulgated by the President does not apply to your case; for the reason, that by the act of removing to this State in 1820, with an intention of remaining here permanently and becoming a citizen of the State of North Carolina, you became one of our citizens ‘"by election,"’ as fully, to all intents and purposes, as if you had been born here. After that act, you no longer owed allegiance to the State of New York--the State of North Carolina was then entitled to your allegiance, as of right.

The facts stated by you — holding office of trust and profit, being now an acting Justice of the Peace, &c.,--have an important bearing, and furnish unequivocal evidence of the intention to become a citizen of his State.

When a foreigner, a citizen of France, for instance, removed to the United States, although with an intention of remaining permanently and becoming a citizen, he did not become a citizen until naturalized according to the forms required by law. But when a citizen of one of the States of the United States removed to another of the States with a like intention, his purpose was, ipso facto, accomplished. There being no law requiring any particular mode of proceeding in order to his naturalization, his act of election had the legal effect of making him a citizen of the State to which he had removed. This difference results from the relation created among the several States of the United States by force of their Union. Such has been the universal understanding, and instances without number could be referred to where citizens of other States have, by this mode of election, become citizens of North Carolina, (Chief Justice Ruffin, the late Judge Strange, Judge French, Judge Heath, occur to me,) and where citizens of our State have ceased to be such and become citizens of other States, simply by the act of removing and settling there.

It follows that when the State of North Carolina withdrew from the United States and became one of the Confederate States, you, like all of her other citizens, became a citizen of the Confederate States; so, of course, you do not fall back under the description of ‘"an alien."’ Indeed, being already a citizen of this State, and as such a citizen of the Confederate States, it would be inconsistent for you now to make a declaration of an intention to become a citizen of the Confederate States.

The act of Congress was intended to apply to that description of persons who, being citizens of States adhering to the United States, happened to be in some of the Confederate States for a temporary purpose, without an intention of becoming citizens, and with an intention of returning; in respect to whom it was deemed expedient to require them to leave the Confederate States, unless the condition of things induced them to change their purpose of returning to the State of which they continued to be citizens, and to become citizens of the Confederate States, which intention they are required to declare ‘"in due form, acknowledging the authority of this Government."’ Persons of this description, having come into what is now the Confederate States, were entitled, under the Constitution of the United States, (art. 4, sec. 2,) ‘"To all the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States,"’ without, in fact, becoming citizens of the State in which they happened to be, not having elected to do so; and it was proper, under existing circumstances, to put them to their election, and require formal evidence of it, if they staid among us. This policy has no more application to you, who have already made your election and become a citizen of this State, than to any other citizen of any State of the Confederate States.

Yours, &c.,
R. M. Pearson.

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