No. 239.
Mr. Lowell to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 591.]

Sir: Referring to your instruction No. 617, of the 26th ultimo, and to previous correspondence on the subject of the treatment of American missionaries in Bulgaria, I have the honor to transmit herewith the copy of a dispatch from Her Majesty’s agent and consul-general at Sofia, with regard to American Protestant schools in that country, which I have just received from Lord Granville.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 591.]

Mr. Lascelles to Lord Granville.

No. 49.]

My Lord: In a conversation which I have recently had with General Kaulbars, the president of the council of regency, his excellency alluded to the religious propaganda which was being carried on by the American Protestant schools in Bulgaria. He had recently had occasion to witness the discontent which prevailed at Samakov with regard to the religious teaching of the American school established there. The teachers were avowedly missionaries, and made no secret of their wish to inculcate their religious opinions upon their pupils, and he could assure me as a matter of fact that, the pupils were all compelled to attend the Protestant services, although the majority of them belonged to the orthodox religion. The consequence was that on leaving school the pupils had become Protestants, and this gave rise to discord in their families, which created a danger for the state. Bulgaria was still in the days of her in fancy, and it was necessary to encourage a sentiment of patriotism. This was only possible by a system of uniformity in religious education.

I observed that, although I understood that the American missionaries left liberty to their pupils with regard to their religious observance, I had no doubt that they would gladly impart to any who were willing to receive them the religious beliefs of the truth of which they were themselves convinced. It appeared to me, however, that any interference with the schools on account of their religious instruction would be a violation of religious liberty, and that the remedy would be to persuade the parents to discontinue sending their children to American schools.

His excellency replied that religious liberty should not be employed for the purpose of stirring up discord in the family and the state. It was impossible for the authorities to exercise any pressure upon the parents, who were naturally anxious to secure the best possible education for their children, and there was no doubt that the Bulgarian schools would not be able for a long time to compete in this respect with the American schools. It was, however, intolerable that the children of orthodox parents should be prevented from receiving instruction in the religion of their fathers, and he could assure me as a fact that at Samakov such children had been compelled against their will to attend the Protestant church for three or four hours. It was, moreover, not a question of religious liberty. Any Bnlgariau was at liberty to profess any religion he pleased, but it was only reasonable to insist that the schools established in the principality should be required to give instruction in the orthodox faith, which was the religion of the state. His excellency reminded me that the popular discontent against the American missionaries at Sistova had reached such a point that it was with difficulty that a popular rising was prevented.

To this I replied that it would be impossible for Protestant missionaries to consent to religious instruction in any faith except their own being given in their schools. With regard to the closing of the American schools at Sistova, I had done my best to arrive at an amicable settlement of the question, but my endeavors had failed, and the matter had now been submitted to the United States minister at Constantinople, who, I understood, intended to bring it to the notice of the great powers.

General Kaulbars having expressed the wish that I should communicate to your lordship the observations he had made to me, I said that I should consider it my duty to do so, but that I should not conceal from him that I did not think it probable that his opinion would be shared by Her Majesty’s Government.

I have, &c.,