to Mr. Winchester.
Washington, June 9, 1886.
Sir: Your dispatch No. 61 of the 26th ultimo, asking for instructions in regard to the issuing of passports to American citizens who are supposed to be agents of the Mormon Church, is received.
You will find on page 11 of the volume of our “Foreign Relations” for 1879 a circular sent to all our diplomatic agents abroad in regard to this question, instructing them to request all proper assistance from the Government to which they are 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 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.
Your usual passport-application forms will furnish the further particulars requisite to establish the identity of applicants in case any appeal should be made against your decision to this Department.
I am, &c.,