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United States Department of State / Executive documents printed by order of the House of Representatives, during the second session of the thirty-ninth Congress, 1866-'67
(1866-1867)

Costa Rica,   pp. [430]-446 PDF (6.8 MB)


Page [430]


                           COSTA RICA.
                         Mr. Riotte to Mr. Seward.
No. 138.]          LEGATION OF THE U. S. OF AMERICA, COSTA RICA,
                                              San Jose, December 10, 1865.
   SIn: By my despatch No. 92, of January 13th, 1864, I had the honor of
re-
porting to you a nuisance complained of by this government, namely, that
young
men from this republic go to the United States, remain there ,for a short
time,
,obtain, by means of hard swearing and an inexcusable levity on the part
of the
courts, letters of naturalization, upon which they return for good to their
native
country, or leave the United States for other parts, and all this for the
sole pur-
pose Qf making this citizenship a bar against the enforcement of whatever
obliga-
tion by their native or any other government. You were good enough to express
in your despatch of February 10th, 1864, No. 73, your approval of the views
then
ventured by me. Since that time I have ascertained that six individuals from
here claim to have become American citizens in this way: respectively to
have
made their declaration of intention and purpose living here until the three
years have expired, when% they intend to return to the United States and
claim
letters of naturalization. One of those men, a Venezuelean by birth, but
from
most ultra-secessionist German parents, left New York two years ago, after
ob-
taining letters of naturalization within some weeks of his arrival there,
for Ham-
burg, Germany, where he is now claiming American citizenship, as I am in-
formed.
   I need but little to add to the five enclosures, from which you will be
able
to survey the whole case as now presented, and I beg you to make allowance
for the copiousness of my answer to Messrs. Quezada. I considered it neces-
sary, inasmuch as I know that quite a number of persons-some say about one
hundred-were waiting for my decision, in order to adopt, if it proved favorable
to Messrs. Quezada's claim, the course followed by them.
   My .doubt as to the legality of the naturalization papers laid before
me arises
 from the non-compliance with the requirements of the act of Congress of
May
 24th, 1828, (United States Statutes, 1824-1835, page 310,) though I am not
quite
 sure whether this law was meant to apply to all naturalizations, or only
to those
 of a certain class. Kent (vol. 2, page 28) thinks it universally applicable,
and
 I know that many courts in the United States in issuing naturalization papers
 are acting upon the same opinion. Concerning the remedies against this glaring
 evil, I took at the time the liberty of suggesting some, but further consideration:
 has taught me that their adoption alone would not stop it entirely. I think
it
 bad that clerks of courts, too, are authQrized to grant such papers, and
that it is
 not made the exclusive duty and privilege of courts in open session, which'
 would certainly prevent a good deal of false swearing. But the main difficulty
 is, that in our large cities two witnesses can be got at any moment-and
very
 cheap-to swear to anything; that the persons hunting up such witnesses have
 as a matter of course, made up their minds beforehand to commit perjury;
that
 there is no officer bound to look after the interest of the United States
in such
 cases, and that the judges or clerks, instead of requiring two good, substantial
 witnesses, (they ought to know them personally,) seem to be satisfied with,
 almost any class of witnesses.


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