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United States Department of State / Index to the executive documents of the House of Representatives for the second session of the fiftieth Congress, 1888-'90

Germany,   pp. 570-684 PDF (48.6 MB)

Page 684

  By the common law of Christendom, brought with them to this country by
European colonists and built upon as the basis of its political institutions,
it is es-
sential to marriage that it should be a "voluntary union for life of
one man and one
woman to the exclusion of all others ;" and it is by such marriages
alone that the
family is constituted as an integer of the State. Such being the case, it
is not within
theĆ½ province of this Department to admit extraterritorial validity
for any foreign
legislation Which does not give a similar definition, and make such exclusiveness
essential element of marriage.
  The Department, therefore, can not regard the status of citizens of the
States, though resident in China, as in any way affected by such legislation;
and if
by the Chinese law controlling marriage such exclusiveness, as it is generally
derstood, is not imposed, this Department can not take any steps towards
ing as marriages such sexual unions as are based on such polygamous law.
At the
same time the Department will interpose no objection to police regulations
notice to Chinese authorities of all consensual marriages in China of citizens
of the
United States.
  It is proper to add that the matrimonial status of a person who is a citizen
of and"
domiciled in a particular State of the American Union is determinable by
the law of
such State and not by the laws of the Federal Government of the United States.
  DEPARTMENT OF, STATE, August, 17, 1888.

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