Legation of the United States,
October 2, 1868.
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
Circular on the prohibition of the passage of
the Dardanelles and Bosphorus by foreign vessels of
Sublime Porte, Ministry of
Sir: The prohibition of the passage of the
straits of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus by foreign vessels of war
is a rule which the imperial government in the exercise of a
territorial right has at all times enforced.
The treaty of Paris, of March 30, 1856, has intervened only to
solemnly affirm the resolution of his Imperial Majesty the Sultan,
to invariably maintain, whilst the Sublime Porte is at peace, this
ancient rule of his empire already declared in the treaty of London
of July 13, 1841, and by which act the powers signers pledged
themselves to respect this determination of the territorial
This principle has always been maintained; and if on rare and
exceptional occasions it has been permitted to some vessels of war
to pass the straits, it was always in virtue of a special
authorization accorded out of deference to the distinguished
personages on board of them.
The Sublime Porte, however, recognises that a relaxation in the
strict application of the aforesaid principle with respect to
vessels of war, apart from the exceptions provided by articles 2 and
3 of the convention of March 30, 1856, would not be compatible with
the declaration contained in the aforesaid treaty of Paris.
It has, therefore, been decided that, henceforward, there will
positively be no exception but for vessels of war, which may have on
board a sovereign or the chief of an independent state.
The preceding decision having been sanctioned by his imperial Majesty
the Sultan I have the honor to beg you to report it to the
government of the United States for its information.
Accept, sir, the assurance of my perfect consideration.