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Steamer Napoleon, The,
BAIRD v. BYRNE.
[JURISDICTION : NATURALIZATION : FOREIGN ALLEGIANCE.]
A mere “declaration of intention" by an alien, under the naturalization laws
of the United States, to become a citizen, &c., and to renounce all allegiance to a foreign, his natural sovereign, in a judicial point of view, is pot sufficient, of itself, and without being perfected by an actual renunciation to prevent such alien from being regarded as a “foreign citizen or subject," within the meaning of that clause of the Constitution which gives jurisdiction to the courts of the United States over controversies between the citizens of a State and “foreign citizens or subjects.” This point ruled at nisi prius, in a special case, and with the expression of a readiness on the part of the court to hear it more solemnly argued.
* Act of April
By the act of Congress, on the subject of naturali- Oct. Sessions, zation,* any alien, being a free white person, may Statement. become a citizen of the United States by declaring before certain courts prescribed by the act, his bonâ 14th, 1809, ch.
28, $1. fide intention to become such citizen, “and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty whatever, and particularly by name the prince, potentate, state or sovereignty whereof such alien may at the time be a citizen or subject;” and then at the expiration of three years, under certain provisos, making oath to support the Constitution of the United States, and that he doth absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure such allegiance, &c.
With this law in force, Byrne, the defendant, a native of Ireland, came to this country in the spring of 1849, and immediately, on the 7th of April of that same year, made in the proper court the required declaration of his intention, and particularly of his
Oct. Sessions, intention to renounce his allegiance to the Queen of
Great Britain and Ireland. Soon afterwards he took up his abode in Philadelphia, where, with his father, he continued to reside. In 1853 he was elected captain of a volunteer company of Philadelphia troops, and as such was commissioned by the Governor of Pennsylvania, and he frequently and uniformly declared, and this with emphasis and warmth, that he had thrown off his allegiance and ceased to be a subject to the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. He was thus residing here when, in April, 1853, this suit was brought by Baird, a citizen of Pennsylvania, before the expiration of the term of residence required by law as precedent to the final act of naturalization.(A)
“The judicial power” of the United States courts *Art. III., Sec. extending by the Constitution* to controversies be2, 7 1.
tween the citizens of a State, and foreign States, citizens or subjects, the question in this case, which arose on a plea to the jurisdiction, was whether the defendant was, when the suit was brought, a foreign subject, and as such within the jurisdiction of the United States courts; or, in other words, whether a person born in a foreign country, and owing allegiance to its sovereign, who emigrates to this country with the intention of becoming a citizen, can by his voluntary act, without the concurrence of his native government, throw off his allegiance, so as to cease to be a foreign subject, after he has made his declaration on oath of his intention to renounce that allegiance, and before the final act of naturalization.
(A) On the expiration of the proper term, Byrne actually became a citizen ; but on the breaking out of the war between Great Britain and Russia he went abroad, without any intention of returning to the United States, and entered into the military service of the Emperor of Russia.
So strictly jurisdiction.
v. Winter, 1 Wheaton, 91; Westcott's
Mr. Penrose, for the defendant, Byrne.
I. The Circuit Court is of limited jurisdiction, Argument having cognizance only in a few cases.
against the have the United States courts been confined within the limits prescribed, that it has been held, under the provision that the court shall have jurisdiction in controversies between citizens of different States, that neither the District of Columbia, nor a Territory, is a State within the meaning of the Constitution.* As- *Seton v. Hansuming, then, that if Byrne was, at the time of the ton’s R. 374 ; commencement of this suit, not a subject of the Queen Ellzey, ? of Great Britain, this court had no jurisdiction, let us New Orleans inquire :
II. Was he at this time such a subject? It is not Lesscev. Fairnecessary to show affirmatively that he was a citizen, ship, 1 Peters or even a subject of the United States. Whatever Rep. 11. might be said in favor of that position, this case requires us only to show that he was not a subject of the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. We can expect no assistance from English authorities or decisions. A country which executed as a traitor a person born of French parents who were temporarily in England on a visit, because he was found in the army of his own country fighting against England; which maintains even now, that a child born in the United States, of an American mother, is a British subject, because its father, though a naturalized citizen, happened to have been born in England—such a country cannot be expected to aid much in discussing here a question of American citizenship. We have uniformly, and in the most decisive manner, repudiated as unjust and antiquated, the dogmas of England on the subject of allegiance. We have a code of our own upon that subject, and with a Federal court interpreting the