Mr. Hay to Mr. Tower.

No. 264.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 499, of the 20th ultimo, inclosing copy of a letter from Mrs. L. Lassonne, appealing for a United States passport.

You refer to the Department’s No. 379, of March 15, 1897, to Mr. Breckinridge, in which the Department declined to issue a passport to Mrs. Lassonne.

The opinion of the Department that Mrs. Lassonne was not entitled to a passport was not based on the hypothesis that she would be claimed as a Swiss citizen by Switzerland. This was merely mentioned as a suggestion that she might possibly secure a Swiss passport. The decision of the Department was based upon her abandonment of the citizenship which she acquired by her marriage to a citizen of the United States.

I quote from the instruction:

It appears that the applicant, being a native of Switzerland, was married in St. Petersburg in 1874 to Mr. Charles Lassonne. * * * She is now a widow. She has never been in the United States, and has no apparent intention of coming hither. * * * The only question for the Department to consider is whether, under the circumstances, Mrs. Lassonne is entitled to protection as a citizen of the United States. Mrs. Lassonne’s claim can, of course, be no better than her husband’s would be, were he alive; and it would seem that at some time in or prior to 1874 he virtually abandoned his American residence for a European domicile. The widow’s case is even weaker, for, during nearly a quarter of a century since her marriage, she has never enjoyed an American domicile.

While the Department’s sympathies are with Mrs. Lassonne, it thinks that she is not entitled to a passport as an American citizen.

I am, etc.,

John Hay.