Mr. Morris to Mr. Seward.

No. 269.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit inclosed a translated copy of a note from the Sublime Porte relative to the passage of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus by vessels of war in time of peace.

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


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

[Page 117]

Circular on the prohibition of the passage of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus by foreign vessels of war.

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 sovereign.

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.