File No. 15971/1.

The Acting Secretary of State to Ambassador Hill.

No. 49.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 80 of the 22d ultimo submitting copies of correspondence in regard to the expulsion of two Mormon missionaries from Prussia, and requesting instructions as to whether you should remonstrate against this expulsion. You add that you do not feel authorized to act without definite instructions from the department, as you do not feel assured of the innocuous character of Mormon teaching.

In part reply I inclose copy of a note1 recently sent to the Netherlands legation which by a coincidence deals with several of the points you raise. In the historical résumé therein given you will see that the Mormon Church professes to have discontinued the doctrine of polygamy. The department’s attitude has been that if Mormon missionaries observe the civil law of marriage, as they profess to do, and preach and practice no doctrine violating law or morality, they should have the same impartial protection in their just rights as other American citizens. For your further information and guidance you are referred to the correspondence between your embassy and the department in 1898, printed in Foreign Relations for that year, pages 347 et seq., and particularly to the instruction to Mr. Doty, June 25, 1895, Foreign Relations for 1898, page 352, as well as to correspondence on the files of your embassy in 1902 and 1903 reporting the good offices used by Mr. White and Mr. Tower to avert the expulsion of Mormon missionaries.

It is, however, necessarily left to your own investigation to determine whether individual Mormon agents seeking your intervention may not themselves be teaching or secretly practicing polygamy, notwithstanding the avowed tenets of the church. If you are favorably satisfied in this particular, it is proper for you to lay the facts before the German Government in order that there may be no unjust hardship extended to the missionaries by reason of a misapprehension of the present tenets of the church.

I am, etc.,

Robert Bacon.
  1. See under Netherlands, p. 659.