Mr. Hay to Mr. Storer.

No. 232.]

Sir: Your dispatch, No. 175, of the 21st ultimo, in further relation to Mr. Henry Louis Becker’s application for a United States passport, has been received and your comments in regard thereto noted.

The conflicting statements as to Mr. Becker’s domicile in the United States which you report, the lack of evidence of his purpose to return here to dwell, and the apparent inconsistency of the conditions of his indefinite residence abroad and of his founding a manufacturing establishment under foreign laws with the holding of a bona fide and realizable purpose on his part so to return and discharge the duties of citizenship, seem to warrant your withholding the renewal to him of a passport.

The press publication under date of November 4, 1898, to which you refer as laying down the rule in regard to the biennial renewal of passports, was not, as you surmise, an instruction to the embassy at Paris, but was a letter addressed to a Mr. F. Clark in answer to inquiries made by him from Paris under date of October 25, 1898. It is understood that Mr. Clark communicated that letter to the Paris edition of the New York Herald, but the publication therein has not come to the Department. A copy of the letter in question is herewith senior your more convenient perusal.

With regard to your inquiry as to whether a person residing abroad could be considered as “dwelling in the United States,” so as to come within the meaning of section 2172, Revised Statutes, I would say that this passage has reference merely to the residence of the minor, who, to be naturalized under the statute, must be “dwelling in the United States” either at the time of the parent’s naturalization or afterwards during his minority. The phrase clearly could not be construed to mean that the person must always be “dwelling in the United States “in order to be entitled to citizenship. By such interpretation a person claiming citizenship through the parent’s naturalization would be precluded from asserting citizenship when not actually within the jurisdiction of the United States. A person properly claiming naturalization under this statute (2172, R. S.) is as completely naturalized as if he had complied with the conditions of the general naturalization laws of the United States, and would not, if he left the jurisdiction of the United States, have to comply with the requirements of Revised Statute 2167, [Page 88] by taking out naturalization papers for himself, as you seem to think possible.

I am, etc.,

John Hay.

Mr. Mill to Mr. Clarke.

Sir: The Department has received your letter of October 25, in which you ask by what authority the validity of a passport is limited to a period of two years from its date, whether it is competent for an American representative abroad to refuse one to a native-born citizen who declines to state an intention of returning to the United States, and whether you can obtain one direct from this Department while you are in Paris.

In reply, you are informed that the granting of passports by this Government is, under section 4075 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, permissive, and not mandatory, and they may be refused when circumstances warrant such action. By a circular issued September 1, 1873, the Department ordered that the duration of passports should be limited to two years from the date of their issuance, and this ruling has been in force ever since. One of the objects of prescribing it was to secure at reasonable intervals evidence of the conservation of American citizenship by persons residing indefinitely abroad. Under the law (section 2000, Revised Statutes of the United States) naturalized and native-born citizens are required to receive from this Government the same protection of persons and property while they are abroad. It would, therefore, be obviously improper for this Government to make a distinction in favor of native-born citizens in the duration of its passports.

Between the legal status of citizenship and the right of continued protection during indefinitely prolonged sojourn abroad the executive authority of the United States draws a clear distinction in exercising its statutory discretion to issue passports as evidence of the right to protection. The relation of the citizen to the state is reciprocal, embracing the duties of the individual no less than his rights, and the best evidence of the intention of an applicant for a passport to discharge the duties of a good citizen is to make the United States his home; the next best is to shape his plans so as to indicate a tolerable certainty of his returning to the United States within a reasonable time. If the declared intention to return be conspicuously negatived by the circumstances of sojourn abroad a passport may be withheld. There is no fixed term of foreign residence by which the right to receive a passport may be decided. Each case must be decided by the circumstances surrounding it.

By a rule of long standing, freshly affirmed by the President of the United States, in the “Rules governing the granting and issuing of passports in the United States,” prescribed May 21, 1898, “a citizen of the United States desiring to secure a passport while he is temporarily abroad should apply to the diplomatic representative of the United States in the country where he happens to be.”

I am, sir, etc.,

David J. Hill,
Assistant Secretary.