Mr. Powell to Mr. Hay.
Port au Prince, Haiti , August 14, 1899 .
Sir: It has been the custom of some of my predecessors, so I have been informed, to issue to certain Americans residing in this Republic certain papers or permits showing that they were American citizens.
Since the recent troubles application has been made to me by Antoine Phelps, aged 34, and Emanuel Phelps, aged 30, for such permits. I have refused, stating I would refer the matter to Mr. Hay, the Secretary of State, for instructions.
I have refused to grant such papers for the following reasons:
- First. The right to grant such papers, or to declare who are American citizens, rests alone with Congress, or in the courts of the United States. This power is not delegated to the representatives of the United States, the only paper of an official character upon this subject being the passport.
- Second. I do not believe the parties applying for them are entitled to the same. One is 34 years old, the other 30; both were born in Haiti, though their parents are American citizens, having come to the Republic about the year 1824. The applicants themselves have never been in either of the States, nor have they any intention of going. At the time of their birth they were not registered, nor has either since obtaining his majority shown any inclination to register him as an American citizen.
To evade the laws of the country they claim to be American citizens and desire certain papers to show this fact. Such papers, I think, they are not entitled to.
I therefore request the Department to inform me if papers entitling them to the rights of American citizens should be issued to them.
I have, etc.,