Mr. Pitkin to Mr. Blaine.

No. 48.]

Sir: The attention of the Department is seriously invited to the fact that grave disquiet has not only prevailed at this capital since my arrival here last October, but has grown with its cause, financial depression, until now there are sober misgivings lest early disorder may ensue. As a goodly number of persons, native or naturalized citizens of the United States and resident here, forecast the possibility of an attempt at revolution and the need of recourse to this legation for passports in order to enjoy protection from personal injury or impressment into Argentine military service. I have respectfully to ask the attention of the Department to the terms of the affidavit to the blank application furnished the legation for a passport to either class of declarants. Many persons of each class have long dwelt here, are engaged in business, have never or but infrequently visited the United States, have [Page 2] rarely, if ever, sought a renewal of their passports, and have no residence save in this Republic, and no intent to return at any fixed period to discharge the duties thereto of citizenship, yet have never qualified as Argentine citizens, nor disavowed their attachment for the United States, and now want its passport. In several such instances I have felt constrained to refuse a passport because of the long lapse of time since the applicant’s departure from our country, his total cessation of relations to it, and continuous omission to supply himself with a passport. But cases arise where the rule might, it appears to me, be fitly relaxed. The present passport forms came to this legation accompanied with Department circular of August 20, 1888, instructing their use “in the place of those heretofore transmitted,” which (as to natives) required no oath, as the new form requires, as to domicile in the United States, place, occupation, and intent of return to reside and discharge the duties of citizenship; and which (as to naturalized citizens) required no oath, as the new form requires, as to domicile in the United States, place, and occupation, but did require of the declarant a sworn intent of return there and performance of a citizen’s duties. The fact that the affidavit in the old (native) form, as to temporary residence, is so fully extended in the new (native) form, to permanence of native domicile in, statement of occupation in, and intended return to, the United States, and the fact that the affidavit in the old (naturalized) form is likewise extended to permanence of original domicile and statement of occupation, exhibits so material a difference that the recited conditions here compel me to this communication.

It is admitted in behalf of several natives of the United States, long resident here, that their intent of permanent return obviously holds steadfast, and that, while they have established necessary domiciles here during a sojourn devoted largely to promoting a development of traffic with the United States, they have confidently relied upon the old (native) blank form (as to “temporary residence”) to maintain themselves, as they can not do under the new form, in a definite and uninterrupted status as United States citizens, which the new passports would import. A long, extended absence of a United States citizen in Europe might, perhaps, import less intent to return, as a rule, than such an absence in this country, whose immature conditions invite our citizens to enterprises tributary to home interests. Often these absentees here are, in effect, our temporary pickets in commerce, and responsive to North American advantage. They hold aloof from its political affairs, and stand at their posts till their ventures may release them, and are as pronounced in their attachment to the United States as if they wore its uniform. But the new blank estops them from asking for the passport of their native country, in which, despite their intent, they have neither occupation nor domicile. These cases seem to be stronger than those of naturalized citizens of the United States long absent from it, in whose intent to return might reasonably be presumed less warmth than in the intent of natives.

Should any local trouble occur against which this Government might deem it expedient to recruit a force, these folk, born in, or naturalized by, the United States, would call upon this legation for passports only to find themselves unable to make the prescribed affidavit to that end.

With this presentment, I respectfully submit an inquiry whether the new blank forms may not admit of qualification under circumstances that disclose both the good faith and the possible hazard of an applicant.

I have, etc.,

J. R. G. Pitkin.