We have wondered about Clerc as an American citizen for some time now. Was he or wasn't he. I am sure that he identified as one but perhaps he was never. Well, sitting with Brad at the Cogswell Heritage House drinking his Louisiana French Roast we decided we would explore it further. Brad made some inquiries and this is what we know:
Tracy Skrabut from the National Archives in Boston told us to not get our hopes up and be aware that for that time period, all that might exist is the declaration of intention or a petition for naturalization. Depending on the court, many were destroyed by the state of CT before they turned the remainder over to their archives in the 1980’s. The federal archive does not retain state records apparently.
We do have the declaration of intention application that Laurent filed on December 11, 1838 with James H. Holcomb who was the Harford County Clerk at the time.
And there were stages or steps for getting citizenship. The Declaration of Intention is only a first stage of the naturalization application. A prospective citizen must submit one first. Then return after a set number of years with their witnesses to complete the process and file a petition for naturalization. When one is granted the oath of citizenship happens and you are a citizen.
We know that Laurent could not wait for his citizenship issue to be resolved to travel in 1846 to France so he had influential friends intervene with the U.S. Secretary of State Buchanan (future President). He had James Dixon (CT Senator) write to Buchanan asking for assistance on a passport. But Buchanan reminds him that Laurent is not yet a citizen so talk to the French! Rejected! Note: Dixon’s wife Elizabeth was the best friend of Mrs. Abraham Lincoln and was called to her husband’s death bed to keep her company.
But Dixon having failed Laurent was issued an internal passport from a minister in France to travel within the country.
So, for the time being at least the evidence seems to point to him not ever getting his American citizenship. He started the process but something went wrong. Did he lose interest? Did his request stagnate? Was he successful and it was lost? Oh, well, got to keep looking suppose.