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United States Department of State / Index to the executive documents of the House of Representatives for the first session of the forty-seventh Congress, 1880-'81

Central America,   pp. 97-113 PDF (7.5 MB)

Page 98

98                      FOREIGN RELATIONS.
this prime object, but it may be amended or abolished by Congress in order
to ratify
the facts, treaties, and conventions which may-result in the national reconstruction
Central America.
  This declaration is so open and significant as to require no comment
from me.
  ART. 22. Neither Hondnreilos nor foreigners shall have the right in any
case to make
a claim against the state for damages or injuries which they may sustain
in person or
property by reason of the acts of facciones.
  As explained in my No. 44, when treating of the new constitution of
Guatemala, the word faccion (plural facciones) may mean a military
exploit, engagement, or action. It may also mean a faction or turbu-
lent body of men, who, in the name of revolution, may rob the store of
a foreigner, tear up the railroad built and owned by foreigners, &c.
Under cover of my dispatch No. 45, 1 inclosed the copy of a declaration
made by the representatives of the United States, Great Britain, France,
Germany, Spain, and Italy, to the Government of Guatemala upon the
adoption of a similar article, giving notice of a determination to pro-
tect their fellow-citizens in person and property to the extent author-
ized by the laws of nations, and irrespective of the local enactments of
the Government of Guatemala. A       precisely similar declaration was
made in the present case by the representatives above mentioned with
the exception of your own, who preferred in the present instance await-
ing instructions from his government. I respectfully solicit any which
you may think the case requires.
  ART. 30. Hondurefios by birth, (1) all persons who may be, or were born
in the ter-
ritory of the republic. The nationality of the children of foreigners born
in Hon-
durefo territory, and that of Hondureflos born in foreign territory will
be determined
by treaty. Where no treaty exists, children born in Honduras of foreign parents
iciled in the country are Hondurefios, &c.
  This article, with the exception of a power to stipulate differently by
treaty, is the same as that adopted by the Guatemala constitution, and
commented upon at length in my dispatch No. 44. In that dispatch,
the history of the article as relates to Spain and her colonies was given.
The point I have desired chiefly-to illustrate is this: If the United States
makes a declaration that children born of foreign parents within her
territorial limits are citizens of the United States, she must concede the
right to all other nations to make the same declarations in reference to
children born of American parents within the limits of such other na-
tions. This has been practically conceded in the opinion of Attorney-
General Hoar, as quoted in the Digest of Opinions, &c., wherefrom
it appears that it is not competent for the United States to interfere
with the relation its foreign-born citizens may hold under the laws of
the country of domicile to that country, although the statute of February
10, 1855, sweepingly declares that all persons born out of the limits of
the United States, of American fathers, shall be deemed and consid-
ered American citizens. The opinions of the Attorneys-General are not
in the legation library and are therefore inaccessible to me. But the re-
ciprocity of usage in this case, or whatever else it may be called, is al-
together unfair in its practical operation and outcome.
   There is no hardship in being a citizen of the United States, while
 one remains within her jurisdiction. The laws are mild, just, liberal,
 wholesome; justice is quickly obtained, and within the reach of all,
 however poor or lowly. There is no oppression or arbitrary acts of
 personal rulers; no forced loans and no compulsory military service to
 the State. The person is free to remain or go as he chooses.
   These things cannot be said of all nations, and much less of those of

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