Mr. Morris to Mr. Seward.

No. 266.]

Sir: The privileges of American citizenship are so much abused in this empire that I deem it my duty to bring the subject to the special attention of the department.

It has become quite a common practice for Ottoman subjects, chiefly Armenians, to go to the United States for the purpose of acquiring American citizenship, not with the view of residing there, but solely as a means of escaping allegiance to the Turkish government, within the territory of which they return to reside for the rest of their lives. Some of them merely take out declaration papers, and others perfect the forms of naturalization. In either case the proceeding is virtually fraudulent, as they have no intention of becoming resident American citizens. Upon their return to Turkey they enjoy higher privileges than the native born American. Unlike him they pay no taxes to the government of the United States, and yet may claim through it the expenditure of the blood and treasure of the American people for the redress of unsatisfied grievances. In time of war they are not, as the home-resident, subject to military conscription. They enjoy, in truth, all the rights of an American citizen, but are exempt from the duties, burdens, and obligations appertaining to the same.

I respectfully beg to be informed if I am to protect as American citizens persons of oriental origin, such as I have described, and who have no other claim of right to be regarded as such than declaration papers, and who, ever since the issuing of the same, have resided in Turkey? Am I bound to recognize as American citizens the children of original Ottoman subjects, naturalized in the United States, but who, since their naturalization, have constantly resided in Turkey, and which children have been born here? In many instances the children of such individuals have passed their majority and are engaged in business, never having visited the United States. Of course, they claim that their descendants, ad infinitum shall be considered American citizens. These distinctions against the native-born and home-resident Americans are obviously unjust and invidious, and ought to be corrected.

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Many of the difficulties connected with this subject might be obviated by such a treaty as that lately negotiated by Mr. Bancroft with Prussia, and it may be worthy the consideration of the department if it be not expedient to negotiate a similar treaty with Turkey. In the mean time I solicit instructions on the above points.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.