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The word passport is formed of two French words, Passport. passer, to pass, and port, a port or harbor. Originally, it meant permission to leave a port or harbor, or sail into it, and this was extended to include generally permission of egress and of passage. In the strict nomenclature of international law, passports were classed with those documents known as safe conducts or letters of protection, by which the person of an enemy might be rendered safe and inviolable. “These may be given to carry on the peculiar com- Woolsey, merce of war, or for reasons which have no relation to it, which terminate with the person himself.” A broader definition is, "A document issued by com- Century Dicpetent civil authority, granting permission to the person specified in it to travel, or authenticating his right to protection.”
None of these definitions is, however, accurately descriptive of the American passport, as it has been granted by this Government since its formation under the Constitution. In time of peace a lawabiding American citizen has always been free to
leave the country without the permission of the Government; and, under the same conditions, foreigners have always been permitted to travel or sojourn within our boundaries without a permissive document. Under extraordinary circumstances safe conducts have been issued to aliens, and even to our own citizens, for purposes of travel in the United States; and occasionally passports for departure have been and are given to ministers or other officials of foreign governments. During the civil war no one was permitted to leave or enter the United States without a passport. These cases are exceptional, and will be treated separately. They need not enter into a correct defining of the regular American passport, a document sanctioned by more than a century of issuance and authorized by statute. In its wording this passport has not varied materially, and in the purpose of its use it has not varied at all. It is a document issued by the Secretary of State, or, under his authority, by a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States abroad, to a citizen of the United States, stating his citizenship, and requesting for him
free passage and all lawful aid and protection during To citizens his travels or sojourn in foreign lands. Except for
a brief period during the civil war, it has never been regularly issued to other than American citizens, and it has always stated this citizenship. It is intended only for use abroad, and has no sanctioned uses, customary or statutory, within the United States in time of peace; and the request which it conveys is
Post, p. 44.
Used only abroad.
expected to receive recognition from the agents of foreign governments, subject, of course, to the laws of foreign countries.
Some foreign countries, before recognizing the Visa. validity of a passport, require that a visa, or visé, shall be, or shall have been, affixed to it. This is an indorsement denoting that the passport has been examined and is authentic, and that the bearer may be permitted to proceed on his journey. Sometimes Regulations. it is required that the visa be affixed in the country where the passport is issued by a diplomatic or consular officer of the government requiring it; sometimes simply by such officer anywhere; sometimes at the frontier of the country to which admission is sought. It may even be required from a diplomatic or consular officer of the government which issued the passport.
The theory and practice respecting passports to private Dana's
Wheaton, citizens in times of peace seems to be this: Each nation, p. 298, n. as part of its internal system, may withhold the right of transit through its territory. Permissions to foreigners to pass through it are properly passports; and, in strictness, a foreigner would be obliged to obtain a new passport at the boundaries of each nationality, and each national authority might subject him to an examination to ascertain his character and citizenship. To avoid these inconveniences, a system is adopted by which a citizen, leaving his own country for another, obtains from his own govern'ment what is called a passport, and is so, as respects a right to leave his own country; but, in respect to foreign countries, is rather a certificate of citizenship, with such
a description of the person, and usually with his autograph appended, as will serve to identify the bearer and prevent the document being transferred. The presenting of this at the entrance of a foreign country serves to authenticate and identify the bearer; and the foreign government, instead of granting a passport, gives its assent to the bearer's passing through in the form of a visé upon
a the document itself. This is especially convenient to the traveler in going through several countries, and enables the local governments to examine and authenticate the person and documents at various points, attested by fresh visés. Where a person away from home desires a passport or certificate from his own government, one may be given him by the diplomatic agent of that government. Each nation has its rules as to who may give and receive these passports; and compliance with them is expected to satisfy foreign governments, in respect to forms. As this passport from one's own government attests to no privilege, but simply certifies private citizenship, it furnishes no exemption from the jurisdiction of the country which receives him. The most that can be claimed for it is, that it is a request to foreign governments to admit the bearer, with the privileges and obligations of a foreign citizen.
THE SPECIAL PASSPORT.
The special passport differs from the ordinary passport in that it usually describes the official rank or occupation of the holder, and often, also, the purpose of his traveling abroad, while generally omitting a description of his person. It serves, therefore, the double purpose of an ordinary passport, which insures to the holder the rights and privileges of American citizenship while he is abroad, and of an introductory letter, which may procure him especial attention in his travels. In the practice of the Department yet another document, similar in wording to the special passport, has been, for convenience, known and treated as a special passport, without, however, having the same force or effect. This doc- To a foreign ument is given to persons not citizens of the United States, usually to foreign diplomatic representatives accredited to this Government and members of their families about to go abroad, and formerly, in some cases, to travel in the United States. It has also been To a disgiven on rare occasions to foreigners of distinction, having no official connection with the Government; but none of this character has been granted for many years.
Another form of special passport was that given to free persons of color intended for use in sons of color.
To free per