to Mr. Blaine.
St. Petersburg, May 21, 1881. (Received June 10.)
Sir: Reciprocating a visit which had been made to the legation, on yesterday I called upon His Highness Siépehsalar-Azam-Hadji-Mirza-Houssein-Khau, ambassador extraordinary of the Shah of Persia, sent to congratulate the Emperor of Russia on his accession to the throne.
In the course of the conversation which ensued, the prince expressed regret that the United States did not maintain some kind of official relations with Persia, notwithstanding a treaty of friendship and commerce existed contemplating such relations. He said that American vessels visited Persian ports and there were American citizens in the country, and that a chargé d’affaires could be maintained at no great expense, as living was very cheap at Teheran.
I replied that I recognized the desirability of having more intimate relations with his country, and I would suggest to my government the propriety of taking some action to that end. I said that I desired him, on his return to Persia, to express to His Majesty, the Shah, my thanks, [Page 1017] as the diplomatic representative of my government nearest to his do minions, for the protection and favor which had been extended to the American citizens resident in his territory, and to assure His Majesty that all his acts in that direction would be highly gratifying to the Government of the United States.
The prince stated that the American missionaries in Persia, who constituted the greater portion of our citizens in that country, had been charged with complicity with the Turks during the recent Kurdish troubles, and that he had been appointed by his government to investigate the charge, which he had found to be without foundation, and he had thus been able to vindicate them from what would have proven a serious offense.
I expressed my gratification at this result, and assured him that such charges did not comport with the character and usual conduct of American missionaries, who were accustomed to loyally respect the authorities and observe the laws of the countries in which they resided.
In this connection it may be proper to remark that when I passed through London a year ago, on my way to my present post, I met in St. James palace the Persian minister to Great Britain, who expressed the same wish that our government would send a representative to his country. I have been informed that when the Shah was in this city, some years ago, in an interview with the then consul-general at St. Petersburg, he also manifested a similar desire. Prom all these utterances I have no doubt that a representative of our government would receive a hearty welcome.
Our commercial relations with Persia at present are very limited, but it might offer something of a field for American enterprise if properly encouraged. As already mentioned, the missionaries established there are the chief American residents needing official protection, and in the absence of which they have, I believe, had resort to the English diplomatic and consular representatives. Should it not be deemed practicable to establish a permanent representative in the country, it might be regarded as desirable by the Department to have either the minister at St. Petersburg or at Constantinople, at some convenient time, pay a visit to the Shah at Teheran as the bearer of a letter from the President. I think that such a visit would have a beneficial effect in securing more protection to American residents, who are often exposed to great peril, and might lead to the opening of some commercial relations or the introduction of American enterprises. I have no doubt that either the Russian or Turkish Government would lend its good offices to the American representative by securing a safe passage to and a friendly reception at Teheran. * * * * * *
I am, &c.,