File No. 15971/1.

Ambassador Hill to the Secretary of State.

No. 80.]

Sir: I have the honor to lay before the department the inclosed correspondence, consisting of (1) letter from the consul at Breslau, August 29, 1908; (2) the embassy’s reply, September 7, 1908; (3) letter from the consul at Breslau, September 19, 1908, with inclosure from Serge F. Ballif, September 16, 1908; (4) the embassy’s reply, September 22, 1908, for the purpose of informing the department of the case.

It will be noted that it is alleged by the Mormon missionaries that polygamy is not preached at present by the Mormon Church, and that it is even prohibited by it. We know, of course, that polygamy is prohibited by law in the United States. It may be that a gross injustice is done these missionaries in expelling them from German territory, but I should be in a far better position to allege it if I had official authority for saying not merely that the practice of polygamy is contrary to the laws of the United States, which is a matter of local jurisdiction, but that the doctrines and teachings of the Mormon Church are entirely free from objection on this ground.

I therefore submit the correspondence to the department and request to be instructed whether or not I should offer any remonstrance against the expulsion of Messrs. Taylor and Rich; and if so, what statement I should make to give weight to this remonstrance.

I have, etc.,

David J. Hill.
[Inclosure 1.]

Consul Spahr to Ambassador Hill.

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that on August 14, 1908, two American citizens, Adelbert A. Taylor, bearer of passport No. 31492, issued by the Department of State May 4, 1907, and Henry A. Rich, bearer of passport No. 47995, issued by the Department of State March 21, 1908, called at this consulate and stated that while visiting Breslau they spoke (on August 12) at a public meeting in the interest of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and were arrested and imprisoned overnight in the police jail, and then expelled from Prussia with three days’ notice.

Thereupon I wrote to the police president, courteously asking the reasons for the arrest and banishment of these men, and requesting that the period allowed them be extended until the matter could be inquired into. The answer, dated August 22, 1908, was as follows:

“Replying to the esteemed communication of the 15th instant, in regard to the expulsion of the Mormon missionaries, Rich and Taylor, I have the honor to inform you that I am not in a position to accede to your request to be informed upon what grounds the aforementioned have been expelled. Nor can the desired extension of time be granted to these missionaries.


[Page 367]

Shortly afterwards I received a letter from the president of the Swiss and German mission of the aforesaid church (copy inclosed), entering a formal complaint and asking the intervention of the consul.

I have the honor to submit the matter to the embassy, respectfully requesting instructions as to further procedure.

I have, etc.,

Herman L. Spahr.
[Subinclosure 1.]

Mr. Ballif to Consul Spahr.

Honorable Sir: You are no doubt aware that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the so-called Mormons, have missionaries in all parts of the world. They are recognized and established in all States of the Union, in England, Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and in the northern countries as well as in the Orient. In most of these lands we are permitted unmolested to announce our doctrines with, we may say at present, comparatively little opposition. Not without a very hard struggle have we gained this recognition. We are now busily engaged in announcing these same principles or doctrines in Germany. Our missionaries are all provided with American passports, and we have been successful in establishing organizations in most of the Provinces of Germany.

We recognize the right of any Government to banish undesirable citizens; still, it must be for just causes; but we do not admit that they can take an innocent man from an open public meeting, which he may be visiting, and without cause or provocation or hearing place him in a damp cell, hold him 24 hours, and without a word of defense being granted, place him in line with murderers and all sorts of criminals and then, without a word of explanation, banish him from this country and Province. This was the case with Messrs. Adelbert Taylor and A. H. Rich, on August 12, 1908, in Breslau. You were called upon and notified of the true conditions.

Now, as citizens of the United States we ask for protection and exoneration.

In Frankfort on the Main the same thing happened; we made the matter known to the American consul, and the petty officer was reprimanded and our missionaries were taken back and given freedom to announce their work in Frankfort. In Switzerland recently our case was taken before the supreme court of the Republic, and we were given perfect religious freedom and speech in Switzerland, all of which was brought about by our consul at Berne.

We kindly ask that you take this case of Taylor and Rich up at once, and that we have justice meted out to us as United States citizens.

Thanking you in advance for your attention, I remain, etc.,

Serge F. Ballif,
President of Swiss and German Mission.
[Inclosure 2.]

Mr. Grew to Consul Spahr.

Sir: In reply to your letter of the 29th ultimo in regard to the arrest and expulsion of Adelbert A. Taylor and Henry A. Rich for speaking at a public meeting in the interest of the Mormon Church, the embassy has to inform you that in a previous analogous case the German Government took action against certain Mormon preachers on the ground that their religion did not exclude the practice of polygamy. The embassy is not, therefore, disposed to take active measures in this case unless you consider it to possess unusual features, in which event the embassy will submit the facts to the department.

I am, sir, etc.,

Joseph C. Grew,
Second Secretary of Embassy.
[Page 368]
[Inclosure 3.]

Consul Spahr to Ambassador Hill.

Sir: Referring to my letter of August 29 and the embassy’s reply of September 7, in the matter of the arrest and expulsion of Messrs. Taylor and Rich, I now have the honor to transmit extracts from a second communication from the president of the Swiss and German mission of the Mormon Church, Mr. Ballif, in which earnest request is made for action by the embassy.

Mr. Ballif states positively that “polygamy is not preached, is not practiced, and is positively forbidden by the teachings “of the church in whose interests Messrs. Taylor and Rich spoke at a public meeting in Breslau, and that these men were arrested, imprisoned, and expelled “without cause or hearing.”

I have the honor to add that Mormon missionaries have had similar trouble here before and seem likely to have more in the future. For this reason I respectfully join in the request that steps be taken to make this a test case.

I have the honor, etc.,

Herman L. Spahr.

Mr. Ballif to Consul Spahr.

Honorable Sir: Kindly permit me to call your attention to the following facts as recorded in Congressional Record:

In the year 1890 Wilford Woodruff, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, issued to the world a manifesto, which said church accepted as a binding law with them, and which prohibits, forbids, and discountenances polygamous marriages. As you may know, the Edmunds law disfranchised polygamists in Utah in 1882. In 1894 the President of the United States issued “amnesty,” and in 1896 Utah was admitted into the Union with a clause in the constitution absolutely prohibiting polygamy.

I wish to state positively that polygamy is not preached, is not practiced, and absolutely prohibited in our teachings. I would also like to say that we positively advise all people to remain in their own land and not to emigrate to America, or to any other land; therefore, you may say beyond question that we are absolutely teaching people to remain in their own country, but to live more perfect lives.

In addition to the above-mentioned facts we have the Smoot case, which has made clear the attitude of the Mormon Church in this regard. The question of importance to us, as American citizens, is that our embassy make these facts known to the German Government, that these persecutions be brought to an end. * * *

I should like to make this a test case, and I beg of your honor to see to it that this case be brought to the notice of the highest officials in the German Government. We do not make this appeal as a church, or members of a church, but as full-fledged American citizens, born and raised under “Old Glory.” Why an American citizen, regardless of faith, should be brought up and be cast into a dark, damp cell without cause or hearing is beyond all justice and law; and I demand in the name of international law and justice a fair and unbiased hearing.

In March, 1908, we met similar trouble here in Switzerland. Four men had been imprisoned unjustly in Chur, Switzerland. I appealed to our worthy Mr. Weber, of the American legation at Berne, under whose advice and direction the matter was taken up before the bundesgericht. The result was we were granted our full freedom in Switzerland, the decision of lower court was reversed, and the petty officers were reprimanded for unwise, unjust actions.

I demand that this matter be taken before the proper or higher authorities of the German Government, before reasonable men, and we will undoubtedly receive our justice.

Yours, most respectfully,

Serge F. Ballif,
President Swiss and German Mission.
[Page 369]
[Inclosure 4.]

Ambassador Hill to Consul Spahr.

Sir: I write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of September 19, inclosing a complaint by Mr. Serge F. Ballif, president of the Swiss and German mission of the Mormon Church, who alleges the arrest, imprisonment, and expulsion of Messrs. Taylor and Rich for publicly preaching the doctrines of Mormonism in Breslau.

In view of the attitude previously taken by the Department of State on this subject, I have thought it necessary to ask for further instructions before making a complaint to the German Government.

Very truly, yours,

David J. Hill.