Mr. Blaine to Mr. Phelps.

No. 50.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 46 of the 17th ultimo, in regard to passports issued by you:: legation, and to inform you, in reply to your inquiry touching the clause in passport applications requiring a declaration of intention on the part of applicants to return to the United States, that it is not the purpose of the Department to require in all cases a certain statement as to the time at which an applicant for a passport intends to return to the United States. Various cases are conceivable in which it would be impossible to make such a statement in good faith, but in which the residence abroad would be entirely compatible with the retention of allegiance to the United States. The important object is, so far as possible, to ascertain the actual intention of the applicant, and for this purpose the statement made by him on the subject of return is not the only—and often not the most satisfactory—source of information; it is not difficult to conceive of cases the circumstances of which would clearly forbid the extension of protection to an applicant, although his declarations of allegiance and of intention to perform the duties of citizenship were strong and unqualified. [Page 301] His whole previous course of conduct might conclusively negative such a pretension. On the other hand, the good faith of the applicant and his right to protection might be clear, notwithstanding that he was unable to say that he would return to the United States at a certain day. But, where no such statement is made, the reasons for the omission should appear. The omission is one that requires explanation, and under some circumstances the excuse would have to be established by stronger evidence than under others. For example, a youth approaching the age when he will be liable to perform military service leaves his native country and comes to the United States and is naturalized. Immediately after his naturalization he returns to the country of his origin, and when asked to declare his intention in respect to return to the country of his adoption is unable to make any definite statement. Such a case would, upon its face, require evidence of good faith of a very cogent character.

I am, etc.,

James G. Blaine,