Mr. Dudley to Mr. Hay.
Lima, Peru, March 5, 1904.
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy and translation of a note from the Peruvian foreign office, together with a copy of the supreme resolution which accompanied it. The object of the resolution is to lessen the number of bigamous marriages, in which, it is to be therefrom inferred, foreigners of unknown antecedents have been concerned in this country. It accordingly requires as a condition to the performance of the marriage ceremony between foreigners, or between a foreigner and a Peruvian, that the civil and the ecclesiastical authorities shall exact, in addition to the evidence of two witnesses, a certificate of celibacy issued by the legation or the consulate of the country to which the foreigner may belong.
Upon receipt of this note I called upon the foreign minister and explained, as touching representatives of the United States, what I believed to be the inherent impossibility of complying with the requirement. I may add that diplomatic and consular representatives of other governments residing in Peru, including to my knowledge, without having canvassed the situation, those of Great Britain and Belgium, would feel constrained to refuse to certify to the unmarried status of their respective subjects. I also called the attention of the Peruvian foreign minister to section 422 of the consular regulations of the United States, which explicitly affirms that our consular officers are not competent to certify officially as to the status and ability to marry of persons domiciled in the United States and proposing to marry abroad; and I advised him that the reason of this rule was equally applicable, in my opinion, to diplomatic agents of the United States.
The foreign minister stated that it would be necessary for him to consult with the minister of justice concerning the modification or repeal of the resolution, and requested me not to acknowledge receipt of his note until he communicated with me further. I told him I would forward the resolution to the Department of State in the usual course, and that my observations in the premises were made subject to your approval.
I have, etc.,