Mr. Rockhill to Mr. Breckinridge.
Washington , September 3, 1896 .
Sir: I inclose a copy of a letter from J. Morschauser, esq., dated Poughkeepsie, Y., the 24th ultimo, accompanied by an original passport, issued to Mr. Christopher Sievert, July 15, 1896, No. 15359, on which the Russian consul at Königsberg, Germany, after informing Mr. Stewert that he was not entitled to enter Russia under his passport, indorsed thereon a statement to the effect that the vise of the passport was refused, for the reason that the bearer had become a naturalized citizen of the United States without the permission of the Russian Government.
I add also a copy of my reply to Mr. Morschauser, of the 3d instant, setting forth the Department’s understanding with reference to the vise of passports by Russian consular officers, and the inhibition of persons of Hebrew faith, except certain exempted classes, from entering the Empire.
It is in regard to the action of the Russian consul at Königsberg that I desire to especially invite your attention. The inclosed passport will give you the indorsement in original; but for the purpose of the record I repeat it in this instruction by a translation. It is as follows:
V vizirovanii nastoiaschtsckago pasporta ot Kazano v vidu togo, tschto prediavitel onago pereschel v proddaustvo Severo-Amerikanskich Schtatoff bes pozvolenia Pravitelstva.
Gor. Konigsberg, 25 Jiulia/6 Avgusta 1896 goda.
The visé of this passport is refused, in view of the fact that the bearer of it has been naturalized in the (United) States of North America without the permission of the Government.
City of Konigsberg, July 25/August 6, 1896.
You will lay before the minister for foreign affairs the inclosed passport with a request that it ultimately be returned to you, and invite his attention to the original indorsement thereon by the consul of his Government at Königsberg. You may add that this indorsement has, in the Department’s judgment, so damaged the passport for the purposes for which it was issued, that a new one has been granted to Mr. Sievert free of cost. Although the Department has no wish to remonstrate further than it has already done against the refusal of the Russian authorities to vise passports issued to naturalized citizens of Russian origin, its position is consistent and tenable that a passport issued by the Government of the United States to one of its citizens and intended for his protection in any and all foreign countries which he may choose to visit is not to be in effect destroyed or impaired in value by a Russian consular officer. His authority under the laws of his Government to decline to vise Mr. Sievert’s passport could not possibly carry with it permission to deface, diminish, or injure its effectiveness anywhere.
Under these circumstances it is confidently expected that the Russian Government will cause such directions to be given as will prevent in the future the marking by any of its officials upon an American passport of any indorsement or statement except a vise.
I am, etc.,