to Mr. Lewis.
Washington , May 13, 1887.
Sir: In my No. 23 of the 16th December, 1885, I called your attention to the case of Mr. C. E. D. Griffith, who had been made to pay a passport tax by the Portuguese consul at Boston before sailing for the Azores, to which you replied in your No. 52 that passports were not exacted from travelers from Europe to the Azores, but only from those from American ports. This manifestly unjust discrimination against this country should be protested against as such with every fresh case which occurs until remedied.
I now send you a somewhat similar case as given in a letter of the 6th instant from Mr. Henry Watson, who incloses a notice furnished to him by the agents of the ship on which he intends to sail for the Azores on the 12th instant, as follows:
Passengers hound for the Azores must provide themselves before sailing with Portuguese passports, which can be obtained of the Portuguese vice-consul, 136 Congress street, Boston.
The fee for these documents is $3.30, which, in addition to the $5 already paid by Mr. Watson for his passport, obtained from this Department, and which was thus rendered superfluous, amounts to a heavy tax on the traveler. This Government has never questioned the propriety of a visa at a moderate charge apposed by a foreign consul to an American passport, and such a practice still prevails in some European countries, but the present case appears to altogether ignore the passports issued by this Government, which are documents generally [Page 936] acknowledged and respected by other nations as evidences of nationality in the countries through which the bearers of them travel.
It is understood from your dispatches in the case of Mr. Griffith that the consul at Boston was dismissed, but whether for the act complained of in that instance is not stated. It is possible that in this case Mr. Dabney, the Portuguese vice-consul at Boston, may be exercising powers not given him by his Government, and you are therefore instructed to bring the case to the attention of the Portuguese Government, and ask to be informed whether this practice of his is known and approved of by his Government, and express the confident hope that Portugal will not ignore passports issued by the United States, or knowingly discriminate against American citizens visiting her shores or her colonies.
I am, etc.,