Mr. Dudley to Mr. Hay.

No. 885.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 879, of the 5th instant, I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of my note to the Peruvian foreign office, acknowledging, with the addition of certain observations, the receipt of the governmental resolution that requires certificates of celibacy to be presented by foreigners before they may be married in Peru. It has become clear to the Government that the resolution was ill advised, and it is altogether probable that it will be repealed as soon as the answers of the legations have been received and referred to the ministry of justice, for which purpose the foreign minister requested us to no longer delay our acknowledgments, as he had previously desired.

Trusting that the tenor of my note may meet your approval, I have, etc.,

Irving B. Dudley.

Mr. Dudley to Doctor Pardo.

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s note, No. 8, of February 12, 1904, and the supreme resolution that accompanied it. The object of the resolution, as understood at this legation, is to lessen the number of bigamous marriages, in which, it is to be inferred therefrom, foreigners of unknown antecedents have been concerned in this country; it being accordingly required, with a view to their prevention, that as a condition to the performance of the marriage ceremony between foreigners, or between a foreigner and a Peruvian, the civil and ecclesiastical authorities shall exact a certificate of celibacy (certificado de solteria) issued by the legation or consulate of the country to which the foreigner may belong.

In view of the salutary end sought to be attained by the resolution, I regret not to be able to assure your excellency of the readiness of this legation and of the United States consular officers in Peru to comply with its requirements. While I assume it is true that the legation which has manifested the most active interest in the issuance of the resolution would have no difficulty in furnishing the required certificates in proper cases to its citizens, I perceive that this legation would be constrained to refuse them upon the application of American citizens because of the inherent impossibility of their producing satisfactory proof upon which to base the certificate. Touching the authority of our consular [Page 690]officers in the premises, the United States Consular Regulations contain the following: “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 be married abroad.” The reason of this rule is equally applicable, in my opinion, to diplomatic agents of the United States.

From the foregoing, it is obvious that the resolution in its operation would discriminate as between foreigners of different nationalities.

I also respectfully submit that it would debar, all foreign widowers and widows from marrying in Peru, since no legation or consulate can correctly certify that a widower is a bachelor or a widow a spinster.

I have forwarded a copy of the resolution to the Department of State. My views are, of course, subject to its approval. I expressed them to your excellency orally at once because I desired to avert the possible inconvenience and hardship my fellow-citizens might suffer from my delay.

Be pleased, etc.,

Irving B. Dudley.