Memorandum by the Secretary of State

The Ambassador48 during his call this morning inquired what was going in connection with the Borah Resolution. I replied that the matter of the Resolution, of course, was still pending before the Committee on Foreign Relations and consideration was being postponed from week to week. This was the occasion for several minutes of comment by both the Ambassador and myself touching the Catholic situation in both Mexico and the United States. I stated that this conversation between us was individual and informal and such as could only occur between genuine friends and in a spirit of like friendship. I then stated to the Ambassador that the position of this Government had been defined in more than one communication and [Page 795]in the most positive and unequivocal language, to the effect that as a general principle this Government had no authority to interfere with the domestic affairs of another nation.

The Ambassador said he knew that this was the attitude of the State Department and that he had in the most definite language possible so kept his Government advised. He added that exaggerated reports from time to time in some of the Mexican press in regard to a resolution of some state legislature in this country, such as Illinois or New York, was giving his Government concern and that he, the Ambassador, had been called upon to make that fact known to the United States Government; and he finally added that he had gone to considerable pains to explain to his Government that such utterances were not of paramount importance from any standpoint; that above everything else the Government of the United States had no control over actions or utterances of other separate and independent governmental agencies, much less over individuals or groups of individuals in this country. I promptly concurred in the soundness of this view which he had conveyed to his Government and emphasized that in this country, where the fullest freedom of speech in the press and as to religion existed, there was no possible way under the Constitution for the Executive branch of the Government in the slightest degree to curb, much less suppress, even vociferous and violent outbursts on the part of its individuals and organizations. I then added that I was naturally the target of terrific denunciation on the part of Catholics in this country who had been violently contending for and insisting upon some kind of attempted interference in the reported Mexican and Catholic situation; that I trusted, therefore, and I felt sure such would be the case, that his Government would in every way consistent with the normal and natural course of its domestic programs and policies give thought and attention to the question of avoiding or minimizing any utterances or actions in Mexico which were calculated to feed the agitation and violent utterances that were taking place in the United States on account of supposed occurrences between official authorities of Mexico and Catholics in Mexico. I then stated that in view of the nature of the charges of mistreatment if fullest possible publicity could be given to the true facts, especially where American nationals were involved, such information would be quite valuable in this country and to this Government in its efforts to quiet and allay unfortunate and violent criticisms of the Mexican Government by individuals and groups here. I was very particular to say that I offered no suggestions of any kind, and much less, in the remotest sense, had any disposition to refer either pro or con to Mexican domestic policies or practices.

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The Ambassador in the friendliest and most wholehearted way indicated his entire understanding of my motives and purposes, and expressed himself as in perfect harmony with the same and disposed in every way to cooperate 100 per cent. He remarked in this connection that, without regard to the merits or demerits, he deplored very much the situation that involved Catholics in this country and the Government and some of the people in his country. He expressed the hope, if not the opinion, that after a period, perhaps something like two months, the more disagreeable stage would be passed. He then stated that in order that his Government might fully understand all the detailed conditions in this country and especially the very fixed and definite policy of this Government, including its lack of power to suppress local actions and utterances, he contemplated making a trip to Mexico City at an early date for a time just long enough to fully get all phases before his Government.

I expressed my deep appreciation of the broad view that he was taking of the matter and stated that his Government and mine had the same high purpose to promote fuller and more mutually profitable cooperative relations which during the next few years should result in the unparalleled material development of our two countries; that therefore I wanted to leave nothing overlooked that would be calculated to cement and weld together far better understanding and far closer relations of friendship between our peoples than they had experienced within our recollection; and that to this end, speaking further individually, if the Ambassador should see anything occurring in this country which in his judgment was having a direct and hurtful effect upon these relations between our two nations, I hoped he would feel free in a personal and unofficial way to call my attention to the same. This he received in the best of spirit and said that he would be glad to do so. I then added it was in this spirit that I was commenting on the complaints in this country about conditions between the Government of Mexico and some phases of the alleged Catholic situation there.

I finally reiterated to the Ambassador that it was not necessary for me to repeat that I had been and was still doing everything within the scope of my authority to quiet and allay intemperate or violent discussions and criticisms of his Government by groups of our nationals in this country and of course would continue in every legitimate way to do so; that this would apply to any official or unofficial action which might call for unwarranted interference in the domestic affairs of Mexico by this Government; and I finally concluded with the statement that it was in consideration of these primary purposes of mine that I had ventured in this unofficial and individual way to invoke [Page 797]such cooperative efforts on the part of the Mexican Government as would make my difficult task less difficult and in that way redound to the good of Mexico.

C[ordell] H[ull]
  1. Francisco Castillo Nájera, Mexican Ambassador.