Mr. Bayard to Mr. Magee.
Washington, November 3, 1885.
Sir: Your dispatch, No. 34, of the 9th ultimo, asking for instructions in regard to the propriety of your course in refusing to issue a passport to a naturalized citizen of the Territory of Utah on the ground of his proselyting for the Mormon Church, is received.
As your archives Will show, and as you are doubtless aware, in August, 1879, this Government sent circular instructions to all our ministers abroad to request all proper assistance from the Governments to which they were accredited in suppressing the proselyting for the Mormon Church. In the face of such a circular, it would seem to be inconsistent to issue passports to persons who are undoubtedly Mormon emissaries, even if they are American citizens. The law as to issuing passports is permissory, not obligatory, and the decision is left with the Secretary of State under section 4075 of the Revised Statutes.
Inasmuch as polygamy is a statutory crime, proselytism with intent that the emigrants should live here in open violation of our laws would seem to be sufficient warrant for refusing a passport. But it would be well to have the fact of the applicant for the passport being a Mormon emissary, and actively engaged in proselyting, conclusively proved to [Page 789] your satisfaction by some kind of evidence which can be put on the files of your legation and this Department. This might be obtained, perhaps, from the police authorities or the public press in case any meetings were held for the object of inciting to emigration.
It is noticed that in your report of the case you did not give the applicant’s name. It would be as well to obtain in all such cases of refusal of passport application a detailed statement from the applicant duly signed and sworn to in support of his application, a copy of which can then be forwarded to this Department for its action and to refer to in case the application is renewed here.
I am, &c.,