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In addition my Government is considering the necessity of asking the American military authorities to deliver to their nationals mobilized in France a "marriage license" like that in use in the United States, viz., a paper so drawn as to corroborate the statements in the affidavit and bearing on the condition and matrimonial capacity of the bearer. The point yet to be determined would be what military authority should deliver such licenses.
Finally it would seem desirable to provide for the recording in the United States of marriages contracted in France.
The foregoing outlines in the main the intentions of the Government of the Republic with respect to the formalities to be observed by American soldiers wishing to marry in France; but before reaching a final decision on the subject it would like to receive official confirmation of the fact that there is no record kept in the United States which would justify a demand on the Americans mobilized in France to produce a certificate of birth, or, failing this, a statement indicating the States where no such record exists, and also, that it is not customary to publish banns before solemnizing the marriage.
My Government would attach value to receiving an answer at the earliest possible date in order to make its final conclusions known to the American military authorities in France.
Be pleased to accept [etc.]
File No. 851.4054/13
The French Ambassador (Jusserand) to the Secretary of State
WASHINGTON, April 30, 1918.
MR. SECRETARY OF STATE: In view of the growing number of applications coming in from all quarters, the Government of the Republic again brings to my notice its desire that steps should be taken at the earliest moment with the Federal Government to bring to a conclusion the agreement which is to regulate the solemnization in France of marriages of American soldiers and French women.
I was given at the same time with more precision than I was able to impart in my note of March 28 last to Your Excellency the provisions which in our opinion should be embodied in that instrument and the particulars on which the two Governments should come to an early agreement.
The provisions are as follows:
Any American soldier in order to marry a French woman in France during the stay of the American Armies in France would be required to produce the following papers that would be sufficient:
1. An affidavit (or declaration in writing under oath) in which the soldier concerned should define and affirm his civil status and
capacity to contract marriage. The soldier shall be permitted to offer in place of that paper the affidavit of a third party to establish his civil status and capacity to contract marriage.
2. A certificate (or attestation) by which the American military authorities to whose command the soldier belongs should corroborate the statements in the affidavit. Should the American soldier declare that he is not a bachelor, but a widower or divorced husband, he would have to produce, according to the circumstances:
3. A certificate of the proper Federal authorities showing either that the woman of whom the affiant declares himself to be the widower is deceased or that the decree of divorce is final. My Government would further consider it desirable to insert in the future agreement the following stipulations:
The American soldier should make in his affidavit all the usual statements under the Army regulations of the United States as to his military status and assignment on that date.
It would also be expedient to decide what American military authorities will be competent to certify to the statements in the affidavit of a soldier belonging to corps of the American service (commanding officer of the unit, corps, or service).
Finally it would also be advisable likewise to decide what are or will be the competent Federal authorities that will eventually issue either the certificate of death of the woman of whom the soldier declares he is the widower, or the certificate that the decree granting him his divorce is final.
I should be very thankful to Your Excellency if after consultation with the Honorable the Secretary of War, you would kindly acquaint me with the views of the Federal Government on the suggestions I have had the honor to offer herein in behalf of my Government and let me know whether you are ready to adopt the above stated rules. If Your Excellency were pleased to accept them, you would greatly oblige me by communicating to me in the form of a draft the text which you would sign with me, and also the instructions which the War Department would propose to issue on the subject to the American Armies in France.
Be pleased to accept [etc.]
File No. 851.4054/16
The Secretary of State to the French Ambassador (Jusserand) No. 2158
WASHINGTON, June 12, 1918. EXCELLENCY: Referring to your note of April 30, and to previous correspondence respecting the agreement proposed between the Government of the French Republic and the United States Government to prevent difficulties which may arise as a result of
the irregular marriages of French women to soldiers in the American Army, I have the honor to enclose a copy of a form of affidavit to be made by the declarant and certificate to be made by the military authorities, which will be acceptable to the War Department and which apparently coincides with the ideas of the French Government as suggested in Your Excellency's notes of March 28, and April 30.
With respect to a form stating the fact of the marriage, to be recorded in the United States, the War Department suggests that under the present regulations the fact of the marriage is made a matter of record sufficient to protect the woman and does not require an additional form. In case Your Excellency's Government deems such a form essential, although Your Excellency's note of April 30, apparently waived this point, a form is attached which the War Department considers will answer the requirement.
In reply to the inquiries of your Government as to what Federal authorities can furnish the legal evidence of the death or divorce of the previous wife, I regret to inform you that there is no such authority and that recourse will have to be had to the local civil authorities in the United States, the requirements for which are covered in the enclosed form.
Form Suggested for the Affidavit to be Signed and Sworn to by the Soldier Contemplating Marriage
that I am unmarried; and that I know of no reason why I have not capacity
to contract a valid marriage; that I have
been married before.
*Note: If deceased or divorced, a certified copy of death certificate or of decree of divorce furnished by civil authorities must be attached to this paper,
Form Suggested for the Certificate to be Signed by the Company Commander of the Soldier Contemplating Marriage
do hereby certify that I am one of the superior officers of
and that I believe the statements in his foregoing affidavit to be true.
(Rank and organization)
Form Suggested for Record of Marriages; to be Filed with The
The French Ambassador (Jusserand) to the Secretary of State
WASHINGTON, July 28, 1918.
MR. SECRETARY OF STATE: I have had the honor, by letter of May 26,1 of calling the attention of Your Excellency to the importance that the French judicial authorities attach to having a penal sanction enacted against any soldier of the American Army having signed, for the purpose of contracting marriage with a French woman, an affidavit not conforming to the truth.
It appears from information furnished unofficially to this Embassy that the Federal law not providing for an oath in the matter of marriages, no punishment could be inflicted upon the soldier guilty of perjury, if the military authority does not order some special rules to that effect.
Besides, having returned to his home, the soldier, because of this, would escape in the present state of legislation, the Federal jurisdiction, and would only be amenable to the jurisdiction of the State where he resides, in the eyes of which the recording of the marriage on the military registers would not constitute necessarily an indisputable proof of the union contracted in France; the prosecution even on the charge of bigamy would be, by that, made difficult. Under these conditions the soldier being guilty of a false oath and having thereby contracted a marriage which might not be recognized as valid would have a chance to escape all punishment, which would only be an encouragement to do wrong.
From that which has been indicated to me the only efficacious means to remedy this state of things would be the adoption by the Federal Congress of a new legislative provision enacting a penal sanction against the soldier having produced a false affidavit.
Under these conditions, and by order of my Government, I have the honor to have recourse to Your Excellency's courtesy in order that taking into account these considerations you will kindly, on the one hand, move the military authorities to adopt special rules providing some disciplinary penalties against any soldier making a false oath in his affidavit, and on the other hand, introduce in the Federal Congress a bill permitting the prosecution, on his return to the United States, of any ex-soldier guilty of perjury in connection with his marriage.
Please accept [etc.]
File No. 851.4054/22
The Secretary of State to the French Ambassador (Jusserand)
WASHINGTON, September 14, 1918. EXCELLENCY: Referring to your note of July 28 and to previous correspondence regarding the marriage of members of the American military forces in France to French women, in which you state that it is somewhat doubtful that an American soldier who complies with the formalities of French marriage laws and pretends to marry a French woman, although he is already married, could be punished under any existing State or Federal penal statutes of this country or could be punished for swearing falsely in the affidavits which the War Department has suggested can be required of American soldiers