Mr. Winchester to Mr. Bayard.
Berne , November 28, 1887. (Received December 12.)
Sir: This legation having been compelled in many recent applications for renewal of passports to decide that the parties were not entitled to continued protection, has in every case retained the old passport when submitted with the application, as required by a circular of instruction.
These parties as a rule when failing to secure a renewal ask for the return of their old passports, and upon a refusal to do so enter more or less violent protests, considering and asserting it to be their property for which they have paid, and its retention unlawful. The legation can not conceive of any just claim the parties have to the possession of these passports, but feels that these surrenders can only lead to the improper use of an extinct instrument. If a passport is good for two years from its date and no longer, and after that date is not to be internationally used as evidence of citizenship, does it not become like a canceled bond or any obligation which has matured and been satisfied, and is the rightful property of the obligor and not the obligee? To satisfy all complaints in this matter, the legation would have the judgment of the Department as to the correctness of the position herein assumed.
I am, etc.,