No. 414.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Fish.

No. 239.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch, No. 175, of January 6, 1875, after an unexplained delay in the mails on yesterday. It relates to the exercise of the good offices of this legation, at the request of the minister of France in Washington, to obtain from the government of Mexico a postponement until the European steamer of February of the departure of the French Sisters of Charity from this republic, which he understood had been ordered for the 31st of January last.

I called at the Mexican foreign office this morning, and was informed by Mr. Arias, first secretary, in the absence of the minister, that the government had granted to all the Sisters of Charity, both foreign and native, who had manifested a desire to leave the country, the time asked by them for their departure. He said that no law or decree had been passed expelling them from the republic; that the law, necessitated by the recent constitutional amendments which had been passed by the last Congress, (a copy of which was transmitted in my No. 225,) prohibited the members of religious orders to live in community or to wear their peculiar garb in public, and that the Sisters, of Charity (of San Vincente de Paul) had made known their determination to leave the country rather than abandon these two practices of their order. The President, upon being informed of this determination, issued a decree suspending the effects of the law, as far as it related to the Sisters of [Page 864] Charity, for one month, and afterward extended the time for two months, allowing them, meanwhile, to live according to the rules of their order, so that they may remain in the country undisturbed until the close of the present month; and the government has been disposed to extend the time still further, if the members of the said order had indicated a desire to have it done, which they have not.

I am informed that the greater part of the order has already departed, and that the members who remain will probably leave on the French steamer which sails on the 17th instant.

I am, &c.,