6 JANUARY 1923, Page 24


Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—An Act of Congress which became the law of the United

States on September 22nd, 1922, changes the rule which prevails, I believe, in all civilized countries by virtue of which when an alien woman marries, ipso facto she adopts (and is adopted by) the country of her husband. In other words, she becomes a naturalized citizen of that country, thus pre- serving, pro tanto, the principle which underlies that part of the marriage ceremony which declares that " they two shall be one flesh." The second section of the Act in question reads as follows :—

" Sec. 2. Any woman who marries a citizen of the United States after the passage of this Act, or any woman whose husband is naturalized after the passage of this Act, shall not become a citizen of the United States by reason of such marriage or naturalization ; but if eligible to citizenship, she may be naturalized upon full and complete compliance with all requirements of the naturalization laws, with the following exceptions :-

(a) No declaration of intention shall be required.

(b) In lieu of the five-year period of residence within the United States and the one-year period of residence within the State or territory where the naturalization court is held, she shall have resided continuously in the United States, Hawaii, Alaska or Porto Rico for at least one year immediately preceding the filing of the petition."

Without repeating other provisions of the Act, it is sufficient to note that all of them are careful to preserve the theory that the woman's status as a citizen of the United States is separate entirely from that of her husband. In that country " they twain " are not " one flesh " politically ; on the contrary, they are two. A little effort of the imagination will enable a thinker to realize the dangers to which husbands and wives are subject as a result of this tampering with the mar- riage relation. A very recent example which has come to my notice may suffice.

An American of some importance recently married an English girl. He was (and is) an American citizen ; she was a British subject. By the laws of the civilized world (barring America) " they twain," having become " one flesh," deter- mined to take their " honeymoon " in Switzerland. The American bridegroom was able to get the necessary passports to cross France and into their destination from the American Consulate, but he and his bride were refused them as to the bride ; under the Act in question she was not an American eitimn. She and her husband then applied to the British

authorities, but were refused by them ; in their view she had

become an American citizen by her marriage. As to the sequel I have no knowledge. Will the bridegroom be per- mitted to take his bride into America ? This communication would be incomplete if I did not add what I believe to be the cause of this disastrous destruction of elementary law. I give it in the words of my authority, who is an American of standing :-

" A handful of degraded American men have gone through the marriage ceremony with Chinese women in Cuba and Mexico and have entered the United States with them as their wives in order to sell them to rich Chinese merchants, eventually getting a divorce and repeating the disgusting business. One or two notorious French prostitutes have also entered in this way."

[The writer of this letter is an American citizen who fought at Gettysburg and not a hyper-critical Englishman.

He is also a member of the American Bar of wide experience. His letter certainly shows the inconvenience, if not, indeed, the danger and injustice, of haphazard legislation.—ED. Spectator.]