Important decision — foreign residents liable to military duty.
An important decision affecting foreign residents has been made by Judge Lochrane
, of the Macon, Ga.
, Supreme Court.
The question arose on a writ of habeas corpus,
brought by an alien to procure his discharge from the Confederate
In delivering the opinion of the Court
, Judge Lochrane
denounced unsparingly the pretext of foreign allegiance as an exemption from military service.
He said, after a review of the doctrines of allegiance held in various countries, that they illustrated nothing that would control Courts here, and that every Government had the power of prescribing and perfecting its own system of granting citizenship; no rule of international law was laid down or adopted.
In view of this fact it was proper to ascertain the law of Georgia
on the subject.
At the time of the secession of the State
the law of citizenship was controlled under the U. S. Constitution
by uniform rules of naturalization; but when Georgia
became a free and independent sovereignty, and prescribed for herself the manner of conferring citizenship, with a policy of enlarged patriotism, she adopted an ordinance making every person, at the time of secession, residents in her borders, citizens of the State
This was not a compulsory act, but a gift of privilege to be accepted by residents of foreign birth in the nature of letters patent, under the English
system, where citizenship was ex donatione regis.
The persons not desiring to become citizens were required to give notice of the fact by filling in the Clerk
's Office of the Courts their papers to that effect.
The reason of this was obvious.
The status of each individual was important to be known.
Relying on the fidelity of her citizens.
was desirous of ascertaining all who disregarded the obligation.
Under this ordinance the petitioner became a citizen of Georgia
; he was within the scope and jurisdiction of the law, and failed to file any paper of contrary import.
As a sovereign power, the Judge
held that Georgia
had the right to pass the law, for questions of citizenship were solely and exclusively within her own mode and manner of legislation.
The petitioner having accepted the citizenship conferred, became, on the entrance of Georgia
into the Confederate States
, a citizen of the Confederate States
, with all the obligations of citizenship legally and morally resting upon him. In strictness of language he was not an alien,
but a citizen ‘"ex donatione regis."’
He had accepted the benefits of the law, its immunities and privileges, and he, and all in his condition, must, in the opinion of the Court
, stand up to the responsibilities it entails.
That military service is the duty of the citizen of Georgia
, is too plain for argument.
The thousands who to-day endure the hardships of the camps and the perils of the field attest it. The petitioner being a citizen by act of the Convention
and his own acceptance, then he is liable to military duty.
have always claimed the right of expatriation and spurned foreign fealty, ignored monarchs and kingdoms, and proudly accepted the American
doctrine or the right of carrying their allegiance with their persons wherever they might go. But the ‘"change coming over"’ them comes too late.
If they owed allegiance to foreign powers when Georgia
passed her act of citizenship, why did they not say so?--In the opinion of the Court
, men of foreign birth in Georgia
at the time of secession, owe their allegiance to the Confederate States
by reason of their citizenship in Georgia
and the act of the State
, and should have no exemption from the duties devolved upon other citizens.
It was, to say the least, too convenient a method of casting upon others the defence of their homes property, and families.
It would be showing too timid a respect for the rights of foreigners to release them from military duty, when, under the laws of Georgia
, no difference is known between her citizens, from whatever clime they hail.
In return for the immunity, privileges, and protection granted and guaranteed to them, they must recognize an allegiance which is legal, and should be natural.
This was no time for adopted citizens to falter on the road of duty.
In the hour of sunshine and peace Georgia
was the home of their adoption and choice, and now that the storm of war howls upon her mountains and smokes along her shore, they must illustrate their adoption by acts of patriotism, and not disgrace their loyalty by pretexts of foreign allegiance.
remanded the petitioner to the custody of his officers, with an injunction that he would show his appreciation of this country by acts of courage against its enemies.