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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year eighteen hundred and seventy-one, by
WILLIAM BEACH LAWRENCE, LL.D.,
In preparing this brochure for the press, our original intention was merely to present, in an accessible form, the letter which we addressed last year to Governor Hoffman, soliciting his attention to an anomaly in the laws of New York, by which female citizens of the United States were subjected by the act of contracting foreign marriages, to the disinherison of their offspring, while no such consequences followed to his descendants from the marriage abroad of a male citizen.
In the course of our investigations, we could not but remark that the operation of the Naturalization Convention had been thoroughly examined by the ablest jurists of England, and, that in advance of the conclusion of the treaty, important legislative changes, to meet the alterations which it was foreseen it must induce in the existing laws, were made by Parliament; while, on the other hand, no attention has been given in the United States, either by Congress or the State legislatures, to the questions respecting descent, succession, title to property, and other matters connected with the political status of individuals, to which our Expatriation Act and the conventions entered into not only with Great Britain, but with Germany and other States, must inevitably give rise. Nor do they, indeed, appear to have ever been considered by American jurists and publicists.
It is not merely the interests of American women married abroad, who are divested of all nationality, other than that of their husbands, and subjected to the same disabilities of alienage, which already existed on the part of their children, that will be affected by the new international code. No double nationality being longer permitted, there can be no descent or succession of real property, where the rules respecting alienage are maintained, from or to members of the same family established in different countries; while, as the treaties permit a naturalized citizen to resume his original nationality at pleasure, or by complying with certain prescribed formalities, and again to change it, as his temporary interests may dictate, it is evident that, without the entire abrogation of the droit d'aubaine, titles to real estate must be exposed to inextricable confusion. Moreover, in directing our attention to the conventions which the United States have made with several States for allowing, in a modified way, the transmission of real estate to aliens, despite of State laws, we could not but recognize the existence of serious doubts as to the constitutional right of the Federal Government to regulate, by treaty, without the consent of the States, matters so exclusively of State cognizance as the succession and descent of property.
We have, therefore, deemed it advisable to insert in the appendix, the documentary matter which has hitherto attracted little notice, on which our conclusions are based. The Expatriation Act, in connection with our naturalization laws, as well as the corresponding provisions of the English law, including those for the readmission of a subject previously denationalized, as contained in the Naturalization Act of 1870, will all be found there. We have brought together the naturalization treaties, and the conventions respecting the abolition, or rather modification, of the droit d'aubaine ; and we have also given a synopsis of the laws of the States as to alien disabilities.
We have added, in a second appendix, the remarks respecting the marriage laws of various countries, as affecting the property of married women, which we had occasion to make at the Congress of 1869 of the (British) Social Science Association, in discussing the Married Women's Property Bill, then the prominent topic of debate. They are here reproduced, as published at the time, the subject being one intimately connected with the intermarriages of our female citizens with foreigners.
W. B. LAWRENCE. OCHRE POINT, NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND,