to Mr. Fish.
Mexico , December 6, 1873. (Received December 29.)
Sir: The consul at Tampico, under date of October 28, transmitted to me a communication from Mr. Edward Owen, consular agent at Tuxpan, stating that the jefe politico at Tuxpan had forbidden him, by authority of the Mexican consular law of November 26, 1859, the privilege of raising the American flag on national and feast days, but had stated to him that the President of the republic would, without doubt, grant the permission. Mr. Owen thereupon solicited me to make application for such permission.
In a call which I made upon the minister of foreign affairs on the 26th ultimo I informally mentioned to him the above-stated facts, and requested, after he had conferred with the President, to be informed of the practice in this particular, and whether the Mexican government would expect a strict compliance with the law on the part of American consuls. On the 5th instant Mr. Arias, chief clerk of the foreign office, in the absence of Mr. Lafragua, stated that the President did not consider that he had the power to grant an express permission in violation of the law, and that he could not therefore comply with the request of Mr. Owen; but that the government never had enforced the observance of the law on this point, and that in this city and elsewhere throughout the republic it had allowed not only recognized consular officers, but even agents of governments with which Mexico had no diplomatic relations, to display their respective flags on national and other public days.
The 30th article of the Mexican consular law of November 26, 1859, to which reference is made, states that “commercial (consular) agents can only raise the flag of their country when the place in which they reside shall be besieged, or when a mutiny or sedition shall have broken out in its midst.” A copy and translation of this law, complete, was transmitted to the Department of State by Julius A. Skilton, esq., consul-general in this city, as an inclosure to his dispatch No. 52, August 15th last, to which the attention of the Department of State is respectfully directed.
I am, &c.,