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CORRESPONDENCE between The United States and Prussia, relative to the Emigration of Prussian Subjects to The United States; and to the Liability of Naturalized American Citizens, Subjects of Prussia, to Military Service, on return to their native Country.—1840—1860.
No. 1.-Mr. Wheaton to Mr. Forsyth.
Berlin, July 29, 1840.
I HAVE the honour herewith to inclose copies of correspondence relating to the case of Johann Philipp Knoche, a naturalized citizen of The United States, born in Prussia, and claiming to be exempt from military service on his return to his native country.
As it did not appear to me that his claim could be maintained, I had no hesitation in declining to interfere in the manner requested. I have, &c.
Hon. John Forsyth.
(Inclosure 1.)-The very humble Petition of Johann Philipp Knoche, of Wunderthausen, district of Berleburg.
Wunderthausen, July, 19, 1840. I EMIGRATED to America from my birth-place in my 21st year, in 1834, to seek my fortune in that country. I was 6 years in America, most of it in Baltimore, where I became an American citizen.
I did not notify my going off from here to the local authority, or the district authority, or that of the jurisdiction, nor ask their permission. It is only since about the 20th of last month that my father wrote to me to come and fetch him, for he had also determined to emigrate to America. To my greatest astonishment, I learned that by my being here they will enrol me as a soldier, which throws me into the greatest perplexity; therefore, I make free to turn myself to your high authority, with the humble petition that you will inform me whether I must hold myself subject to the Prussian law as bound to military duty, or whether I am exempt, as an American citizen. I have an American passport and certificate of citizenship, which, if it be necessary, I can send to your Excellency by mail from here, where I must remain till the early part of the coming year, as my father has not yet sold his property, therefore cannot as yet emigrate.
On this subject I humbly and dutifully request as early answer With deepest regret, &c.
as may be.
JOHANN PHILIPP KNOCHE.
(Inclosure 2.)-Mr. Wheaton to Mr. Knoche.
Berlin, July 24, 1840. I HAVE received your application, stating that you are a nativeborn subject of His Majesty the King of Prussia; that you emigrated to The United States in the year 1834, being then 21 years old, where you became naturalized as a citizen; that you have since returned to your native country, where you have been required to perform military duty, and desiring my official interference for your relief.
In reply, I have to state that it is not in my power to interfere in the manner you desire. Had you remained in The United States, or visited any other foreign country (except Prussia) on your lawful business, you would have been protected by the American authorities, at home and abroad, in the enjoyment of all your rights and privileges as a naturalized citizen of The United States. But, having returned to the country of your birth, your native domicile and national character revert (so long as you remain in the Prussian dominions), and you are bound in all respects to obey the laws exactly as if you had never emigrated. Mr. J. P. Knoche.
I am, &c. HENRY WHEATON.
No. 2.-Mr. Barnard to Mr. Webster.
Berlin, March 11, 1851.
I HAVE the honour to inclose a copy of a note addressed by me to Mr. Manteuffel in behalf of H. Van de Sandt, accompanied by a copy of Mr. Van de Sandt's letter to this Legation. Hon. D. Webster.
D. D. BARNARD.
(Inclosure 1.)—Mr. Barnard to Baron Manteuffel. M. LE BARON, Berlin, March 4, 1851. I HAVE the honour to inclose a copy of a letter from Mr. Sandt, who has been ordered to leave Prussia by the Landrath of Cleves. As he declares himself a citizen of The United States, although I have not yet seen his passport, I beg to present his request for a reconsideration of his case. I avail, &c.
D. D. BARNARD.
(Inclosure 2.)—Mr. Sandt to the American Legation. (Translation.) Farm near Cleves, February 29, 1851. THE Undersigned American citizen does himself the honour to call upon the honourable Legation of The United States for the just intervention of its influence, in his most unpleasant situation. [1861-62. LII.]
It is only a few weeks since I came from North America amongst my kinsfolk here, on some family affairs, and now have information from the police, by order of the town councillors of Cleves, that I must at once leave the country, or otherwise am threatened with imprisonment and compulsory banishment. Now, I have no desire to be thrust by force across the boundary like a vagabond by some uninvited attendants, my business not being, in the mean time, yet finished, so I request your honour's kind interference and counsel in this matter. The reason of this strange conduct of the police is unknown to me, as I have not been guilty of any offence, and my passport issued by Mayor Kennett, of St. Louis, was visaed at that place as correct by the Prussian Consul. I cannot think what the police here can want with me.
Would your honour desire to inspect the passport referred to, I beg you will give me your kind notice of the fact. With highest esteem,
The Legation of the
United States of America at Berlin.
H. VAN DE SANDT.
No. 3.-Mr. Barnard to Mr. Webster.
(Extract.) Berlin, June 10, 1851. THE Department has heretofore been informed that Mr. Henry Von der Sandt applied to me some time ago to interfere in his behalf with the Government of Prussia. He claimed to be an American citizen in Prussia, under protection of a regular passport, and complained of harsh and unreasonable treatment, in being ordered by the authorities of Cleves to quit Prussia. In a note of the 4th of March last, I asked the Government here to review the case and the decision of the local authorities.
I have received, under date of the 21st of May, a note from the Department of Foreign Affairs, declining to reverse the decisions of the officials at Cleves, a copy of which is herewith communicated. As soon as received, a copy of this note was sent to Mr. Von der Sandt. It would appear, from a letter received from him, dated the 25th of May, and which must have been written before the copy of the Minister's note to me had reached him, that he had been promptly notified of the final decision of the Government in his case, and of the necessity of his quitting Prussia. I send a copy of his letter, which is in German, remarking that it is written in a moderate tone of complaint of the Legation, or the Government, or somebody else, and contains an announcement of his purpose to make his grievances known both to the Prussian and American public through the newspapers.
It will be observed that Mr. Von der Sandt was not provided with a passport from the American Government, but from the Mayor of St. Louis, and that he cannot be a citizen of The United States, since he emigrated from Prussia only in 1849. His motives for leaving Prussia, and the object of his return, are stated in the Minister's letter to me, according to their understanding of the case; and Mr. Von der Sandt has refused to give the authorities any satisfaction in regard to the nature of the family affairs which he had said brought him back to his old home, or the length of time which he desired to occupy in his private business. The Government seemed to be resolved that he should not live in Prussia as a Prussian, and yet escape all the duties of a Prussian subject, under pretence or colour of being a citizen of another country. Hon. D. Webster.
D. D. BARNARD.
(Inclosure.)-Mr. Le Coq to Mr. Barnard.
Berlin, May 21, 1851. have been pleased
I HAVE had the honour to receive the note to address to me, dated the 4th of March last, transmitting the complaint of Mr. Henry Von der Sandt, a citizen of The United States, against the order which has been given to him by the Landrath of Cleves to quit the Prussian States, and I hasten to communicate to you information on this subject which I have just received from the competent authorities.
Henry Von der Sandt having, at his request, received a permit of emigration (Entlassungs Urkunde), left his country, in 1849, to go to America, with the sole view of screening himself by that from the performance of his military duties in the landwehr. On his return now, he wishes to avail himself of his foreign character to settle and live near his relatives, under the pretext of alleged family affairs, wishing thus to wait until the time of his military obligations shall have expired, reserving himself to get out of the way again in case circumstances should render his presence still necessary under the flag.
The passport of which he is the bearer, and which was issued to him by the Mayor of the city of St. Louis, Missouri, mentions neither the object nor the duration of his journey, and being thus an insufficient means of legalization, it has been deemed necessary to come to an understanding on these two points with Mr. Von der Sandt. The latter, however, not only refuses all explanation, but will not even come forward at the summons which has been addressed to him by the Landrath of Cleves.
In these circumstances, Sir, the King's Government could only approve and sustain the measure which Mr. Von der Sandt com
plains of; and I sincerely regret that I am not able to answer in a more favourable manner your intervention in his behalf. In restoring herewith the letter inclosed in your despatch,
D. D. Barnard, Esq.
I have, &c.
No. 4.-Mr. Barnard to Mr. Webster.
(Extract.) Berlin, June 24, 1851. THE decision of the Government of Prussia in the case of Mr. Von de Sandt, of which the department is advised, has not satisfied that person, and he has written to me again on the subject. I send a copy of his letter, with a copy of one addressed to him in reply, by way of caution and counsel.
Hon. D. Webster.
D. D. BARNARD.
(Inclosure 1.)-Mr. Sandt to Mr. Barnard.
(Translation.) Bremen, June 9, 1851. I HAVE received the letter of the Secretary of Legation, Mr. Fay, of the 26th May, and accompanying extracts from letters of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Prussia of the 21st May. I see, however, thereby, that you have come to an unjust conclusion, and that your decision, therefore, turns out disagreeably for me.
From the beginning: that I emigrated in 1849 is an error of fact; because, from 5th October, 1843, I threw off the bond of subjection to Prussia, and emigrated a short distance out from here. So, also, is it erroneous to say that I emigrated to get rid of the military regulations. I have fulfilled my active service period, and part of my reserve service, without fault; but if it be that I belong till my 40th year to the first and second levy of landwehr, and could not emigrate without incurring the appearance of intention to evade my military obligations, and was the military liability the only oppression in this country, there certainly would not be here so many hundreds who, daily, secretly get across the Rhine, who are not soldiers, and who have no need to fear that; and in America, also, we are not free from the duty of service, but always bound, on any peril which may menace the land, to seize our weapons.
That my non-appearance, on the verbal request of a field-guard, to appear before the burgomasters of Kelle, half a league from here, (not before the landraths,) was given out to seem to be the principal ground of my proscription, is not justice; for, a long time after my proscription, first came this summons, and not in substitution. But the mere fear of my arrest was the reason for my non-appearance; for, had I returned the copy of my passport, which contained nothing dangerous to my personal freedom, to the burgomaster, at his request, and if my longed-for personal freedom were assured to