The Secretary of State to the Reverend Peter J. Hatpin, S. J.58

Sir: In reply to the inquiry contained in your letter of March 27, 1935,59 you are informed that there exists between the United States and Mexico no treaty or other form of international agreement by which the Government of Mexico guarantees freedom of worship to citizens of the United States residing or sojourning in Mexico.

Article 15 of the Treaty of 1831,60 between the United States and Mexico contained the following provision:

The citizens of the United States of America residing in the United Mexican States shall enjoy in their houses, persons, and properties the protection of the Government, with the most perfect security and liberty of conscience; they shall not be disturbed or molested, in any manner, on account of their religion, so long as they respect the Constitution, the laws, and the established usages of the country where they reside; and they shall also enjoy the privilege of burying the dead in places which now are, or may hereafter be assigned for that purpose; nor shall the funerals or sepulchres of the dead be disturbed in any manner, nor under any pretext.

The citizens of the United Mexican States shall enjoy, throughout all the States and Territories of the United States of America, the same protection; and shall be allowed the free exercise of their religion, in public or in private, either within their own houses, or in the chapels or places of worship set apart for that purpose.

The Treaty of 1831 was abrogated in 1881.61

On May 27, 1921, the American Chargé d’Affaires in Mexico City, acting under instructions of the Department of State, presented to General Alvaro Obregon, whose Government had not at that time been recognized by the United States, a draft of a Treaty of Amity and Commerce,62 the second article of which read as follows: [Page 801]

Article 2. The citizens of each of the High Contracting Parties shall not be disturbed, molested nor annoyed in any manner, on account of their religious belief, nor in the proper exercise of their peculiar worship, either within their own houses or in their own churches or chapels, which they shall be at liberty to build and maintain, in convenient situations, interfering in no way with, but respecting the religion and customs of the country in which they reside.

Citizens of the United States in Mexico shall have and enjoy the rights to engage in religious worship and all other matters appertaining to religion and education, as citizens of Mexico enjoy in the United States.

Neither the proposed Treaty nor the provision cited above was accepted by the Government of Mexico, which was accorded de jure recognition by the Government of the United States on September 3, 1923.63

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
R. Walton Moore
  1. Manresa Hall, Port Townsend, Washington.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Hunter Miller (ed.), Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, vol. 3, p. 599.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1881, p. 820.
  5. Ibid, 1921, vol. ii, p. 397.
  6. See Foreign Relations, 1923, vol. ii, pp. 554555.