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Mr. Glahn to Mr. Vroom.


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WEISENFELS, July 3, 1857. The humble petition of Bonifaz Glahn for his gracious relief from

Prussian military service: HONORABLE MINISTER: In the year 1849, I emigrated, when not more than fifteen and a half years old, and long before, according to the Prussian laws, I was subject to military duty, to America, where I settled in the State of Illinois and learned a trade, and was on the eve of setting up in business. Before, however, I entered upon this, the desire to see my old father and beloved sister induced me to travel to Germany. On the 26th of May, I arrived, as a foreigner, at my old father's and sister's, at my birthplace. Two hours after my arrival at the paternal home, I went to the local authorities to verify before them my passport and certificate of citizenship, but was, on the instant, despite my verifications, despite my citizenship, which my father and a relation offered to prove to the authorities, I was by them arrested like a robber or murderer, and sent to the royal depot at Korbis, from which I was transferred to the major of the Muhlhauser landwehr battalion, who sent me to the military authority at Erfurt, by which last authority, notwithstanding my American citizenship, I was placed in the ranks of the sixth company of the second musketeer battalion of the thirty-first regiment of infantry stationed here at Weisenfels. I must also further humbly remark, that the local authorities of Kolungen, my birthplace, took from me not only my passport, but also my certificate of citizenship, and as yet it is not returned to me. It was my purpose to have passed a few weeks with my relations, and then again to have returned to America and set up business for myself. Now, I see at once the whole scheme of my future happiness destroyed by enlistment in the Prussian military service, which separates me for many years from my most important interests in America, where I acquired property by the sweat of my brow, and was betrothed to an acquaintance whom I may easily lose through many years of absence. As I am already an American citizen, I hold it, therefore, against justice to place me here in military service, and therefore humbly pray your excellency that you will earnestly labor at the royal department of war at Berlin to have me let go. In full confidence that your excellency will take up my case favorably and earnestly, and help me to recover my just rights, I subscribe myself, Your excellency's most obedient, humble servant,


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Mr. Vroom to Mr. Glahn.


Berlin, July 11, 1857. Sir: I have received your letter of the 3d from Weisenfels, informing me that you went to America in 1849, when fifteen and a half years old, and have lived in the State of Illinois, where you were about to settle yourself in business; that before doing so, you concluded to make a visit to Germany, and arrived at your native place on the 26th May last, having a passport and certificate of citizenship; that, notwithstanding these, you have been arrested and sent to the military authority at Erfurt, and subsequently placed in the thirty-first infantry regiment at Weisenfels. You apply to me for relief on the ground that you are an American citizen, and as such cannot be subjected to military service in Prussia.

It was very proper for you to give me notice of your situation, and I sincerely regret that it is not in my power to afford you the relief you ask. Being a Prussian by birth, the obligation to perform the military service required by her laws rested upon you as it does upon all Prussian subjects. You left your country without discharging that obligation, and you left it, as I conclude from your statement, without having first obtained leave to emigrate. In so doing, and in being absent at the time military service was required of you, you violated the laws of the country, and made yourself liable to the penalty of such violation. Had you remained in the United States, you would have been safe. The Prussian government could not have interfered with you when visiting any other German kingdom or State except Prussia. The authorities of Prussia could have had no legal claim upon you, and you would have been entitled to the protection of your adopted country. But you have thought proper to return voluntarily to your native land, and place yourself within her jurisdiction and the power of her laws. These laws claim of you the performance of an obligation which rested upon you before you became a citizen, and from this your naturalization does not release you. Under such circumstances, I am not authorized to demand your discharge as a matter of right, and it will be entirely unavailing to ask it as a favor. I would most gladly do anything that I could with propriety to assist you in your unfortunate difficulty. At present there appears to be no way open. I will immediately send a copy of your letter to the Secretary of State, at Washington, but without any expectation that he will direct me to interfere in your behalf. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

P. D. VROOM. Mr. Bonifaz GLAHN.

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Mr. Wright to Mr. Cass.

[Extract.] No. 2.]


Berlin, September 19, 1857. SIR:

In consequence of similar cases being presented to this legation, your attention is respectfully called to the case of Bonifaz Glahn, stated in the dispatch of my predecessor No. 163, of the date of July 14, 1857. I shall be pleased to hear from the department in reference to said case. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Secretary of State.

I have the hood to hear from No, 163, off' Bonifaz Glahegation,

Mr. Wright to Mr. Cass.

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[Extract.] No. 39.]


Berlin, September 21, 1858. Sir: Having received no response to the cases of Eugene Dullyé and John Henne, the presumption is that the State Department acquiesces in the views taken of these cases by the Prussian authorities. I cannot, therefore, but suggest to our government the propriety of making some radical change in relation to the claims of the Prussian government upon citizens of the United States for military services, as well as providing some remedy for the protection of our citizens who are ordered away from Prussia without notice, trial, &c. It is well known at this very hour, there are United States citizens serving in the Prussian army against their will; others desire to return to the land of their birth, which they left in infancy; some to settle up their estates; some to see their aged parents; others, in the language of John Henne, “to weep over the grave of his father." Yet all this is refused under the present ministry. Had this occurred with our Irish emigrants under the English government, it may be well said that we would have found a remedy. Why not find one with Prussia ? The cases presented are numerous, and must, in the nature of things, increase. Cannot an appeal be presented from our government, asking at least for some exceptions to this rule ? May not the infant from Prussia, raised under our flag from childhood to three score and ten, return to his native land, see his relatives, settle up his business; and may not the American citizen, settled in business in Prussia under existing treaties, claim the right to be tried by the Prussian courts before he is ordered out of the country? In short, may not our government at once recognize the importance of vindicating the inviolability of the United States citizen in Germany, and take some prompt and decisive steps to bring this subject before the Prince of Prussia ?

Believing that something may be accomplished, and that the auspicious moment will be at the time of the ushering in of the Prince of Prussia, as he has shown already some clear indications favorably recognizing the rights of the citizen, I await the views of the government, with the firm belief that some protection and aid may be attained at this time for this large class of our adopted and worthy citizens.

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I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,


Secretary of State, Washington City.

Mr. Wright to Mr. Cass.

[Extract.] No. 40.]


Berlin, September 28, 1858. SIR:


May we not ask successfully, under the new order of things, for some change in the treatment of our adopted citizens who return to Prussia, particularly those who left in infancy? Is there not reason to hope that we may at least expect some exceptions to the present rigorous rule?

The department has before it the cases of John Henne and Eugene Dullyé.

Among the numerous cases presented to the undersigned is the one of Captain Paul Borner, who was shipwrecked on the coast of Africa and returned to New York, his adopted home, enfeebled and sick. He was advised by his physicians to return to the land of his birth, Breslau, in Prussia, where his parents reside. After three months rest and kind treatment there, his health was restored. When he sought to leave for his adopted home, however, the authorities there gave him to understand that his military duty in Prussia must be discharged.

It is said that, at this time, there is a person serving in the Prussian army against his will who was one of our soldiers in the war with Mexico, and who is a citizen of the United States.

No American consul or minister can shield from impressment a United States citizen who has the misfortune to be born in Prussia. Is it possible that there is no remedy for this state of things? My opinion is, that if a decided and firm stand be taken by our government, during the present peculiar position of affairs in Prussia, it will lead to good results. It is certainly worthy of a trial, and my energies and time shall be devoted to furthering the work. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Secretary of State.
Ex. Doc. 388

Mr. Wright to Mr. Cass.

[Extract.] No. 45.]


Berlin, November 2, 1858. SIR: * * *

Almost every week, to my knowledge, citizens of the United States who return to Prussia are either placed in the army or are compelled to avoid the same by leaving the country. This morning, two young men, Marcus Collman and Otto Rhein, who went to the United States when fifteen and seventeen years of age, called upon me with American passports-one of them being the only son of a widow. I said to these young men that I could not encourage them to remain in Prussia one hour, with any assurance that I could afford them aid if they were once within the power of the police of this country. The parents of Collman are aged and infirm, and he has been absent for some years past from Prussia; but, like a true son, he is determined to see his father and mother, and if he is arrested by the police, I will afford him all the aid and protection within my power.

May I not hope that these cases will urge the department to find some relief under the administration of the Prince of Prussia ? *

* * * * * * I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOSEPH A. WRIGHT. Hon. Lewis Cass, Secretary of State.

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Mr. Wright to Mr. Cass.

(Extract.] No. 50.]


Berlin, December 4, 1858. SIR: * *

* * * * * Herewith is a copy of a report by the “ royal public attorney," at Stralsund, Prussia, in reference to those who neglect their military duty before leaving Prussia, &c. By reference to my dispatch No. 32, dated August 27, 1858, the department will see the full object of these proceedings, and the manner by which the Prussian authorities punish the estates of the heirs who are out of the country.

You will learn, by reference to the case of John Henne, that, notwithstanding the payment of the fine by his mother, he was refused admittance into Prussia by the late minister of foreign affairs. Though such proceedings are reprehensible, they are not so severe as the present avowed rule, which is, to require from a father, with sons under age, on his way to the United States, a declaration, placed in his Prussian passport, that the sons, when of age, are to fulfill their military duty.

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