The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs (Porter)

My Dear Congressman: I received your letter of February twenty-sixth84 enclosing a copy of the Resolution introduced by Congressman Boylan, which reads as follows:

Resolved, That the Secretary of State is hereby authorized and directed, if not incompatible with the public interest, to furnish to the House of Representatives at the earliest possible date such data and information as he may have in respect of the expulsion from Mexico of citizens of the United States on account of their religious belief.”

The only information I have as to the expulsion of citizens of the United States from Mexico is the following:

In a despatch from the American Ambassador to Mexico,84 I learned that Mesdames Semple, Evans, and Connelly of the Academy of the Visitation, a Catholic School situated at Coyoacan in the neighborhood of Mexico City, had been ordered expelled. Mr. Sheffield85 interceded for them with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The order was subsequently revoked but I am informed by the American [Page 703] Ambassador that they believed it to be the best policy to close their school and leave the country and that they are leaving on the fourth day of March for Mobile, Alabama. I have today received a message that Madame Semple has informed the Embassy that all Government supervision has been withdrawn from property at Coyoacan.
Another case which came to my attention was that of Dr. J. A. Phillips, a Methodist Episcopal ordained minister,86 who was Principal of the Institute of the People, a school at Piedras Negras opposite Eagle Pass, Texas. The expulsion was also said to include three teachers. It was afterwards reported to me that the order had been revoked and I am now informed by the Embassy in Mexico that Phillips will be allowed to return to Mexico and the school will be re-opened provided he, being a foreigner and a minister of religion, does not teach. I take it in this case the expulsion is claimed on the ground that under the Mexican Constitution no ordained minister of any creed may teach in a school of primary instruction.
There has been reported to me that Elder Ralph E. Brown of the Church of the Latter Day Saints was ordered to leave on February 20 by the Municipal Authorities of Tula de Allen de State of Hidalgo and that the following Mormon Missionaries from Ozuba, State of Mexico, have been given ten days by the Municipal Authorities in which to leave the State. No mention is made of their leaving the country. The names of the parties as near as I can make out are Owen V. Call, Daniel H. Higgenbottham, and one other person, whose name I cannot make out from the despatch, from Salt Lake City, and Alton S. Hays of Provo, Utah. Mr. Sheffield reports that he is doing everything he can on behalf of Madame Semple and any other American citizens who may be in difficulty and that he will continue to do so. He has been instructed to this effect.

It is impossible for me to determine in each one of these cases exactly the ground of expulsion but I assume on the ground that they are teaching in violation of the Constitution and Laws of Mexico, which I have furnished you.

Very sincerely yours,

Frank B. Kellogg
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. James R. Sheffield, American Ambassador in Mexico.
  4. Minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.