Mr. Blaine to Mr. Lincoln.
Washington , March 24, 1890.
Sir: I transmit herewith copy of a letter from Mr. F. C. Van Duzer, dated London, March 5, 1890, from which it appears that on recently applying to your legation for a passport he found himself unable conscientiously to make declaration as to the time within which he intends to return to the United States “with the purpose of residing and performing the duties of citizenship therein,” as contemplated in the prescribed form of application.
In the closing part of Mr. Van Duzer’s letter, in which he expresses his view “that there should be some means to enable Americans residing abroad, against whom there can be no possible objection raised, to obtain a passport for their personal protection quite as readily as it is possible for a native American in America to obtain it,” he appears to lose sight of the essential difference in the prima facie presumption raised in the two instances. In the case of a native American in America, the presumption exists of domicile in the United States and of actual fulfillment of the duties of citizenship. Even in this case, as you perceive from the text of the form of application to be filled out by native citizens [Page 329] in this country seeking passports directly from this Department, the applicant is required to declare that his absence is temporary, and that he intends to return hither to discharge the duties of citizenship.
The Department is aware of the difficulty which an American citizen engaged in business abroad may find in conscientiously declaring a limit to the period of his foreign residence, and Mr. Van Duzer’s frank statement in this regard is appreciated. In general, the intention to return is most adequately to be declared by fixing a time within which to do so 5 and it is usually expected that this will be done.
An American citizen residing abroad as the foreign agent of an American business may not be in a position to make such a declaration, but the facts of the case may point to such conservation of interests in his native land as to make his return at some time to his real home a reasonable probability.
You have not reported this case; doubtless, because, as would seem from Mr. Van Duzer’s letter, his application did not pass beyond the stage of preliminary inquiry. This instruction is, however, sent for your guidance should he make renewed inquiry on the subject, as he has been told he may do. Your known discretion in treating this class of cases leads the Department to leave to your good judgment a disposition of Mr. Van Duzer’s application in just accord with the law and facts; but, should the surrounding circumstances suggest doubts of his title to protection, you may report the case fully and await instructions.
I am, etc.,