No. 518.
Mr. Wallace to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 126.]

Sir: I beg to send you herewith papers of great concern to Mr. Alexander Sidi, a citizen of the United States, residing in Smyrna.

The first is a copy of a dispatch from Mr. Griffith, United States vice and acting consul at Smyrna, directed to Consul-General Heap and by the latter referred to me, stating, amongst other things, that Mr. Sidi owns in Smyrna certain real property which the authorities refuse to transfer either in his name or in that of his sons, who are native [Page 810]born Americans, and that lie (Mr. Sidi) begs the legation to press his claim upon the Porte, in order that the transfer may be made and his property relieved of danger.

Along with Mr. Griffith’s dispatch I send you other papers essential to the subject, amongst them a letter from Mr. Sidi himself.

After some study I concluded to address a communication to the Sublime Porte in Mr. Sidi’s behalf, a copy of which you will please find inclosed. As you will see, the request pertinent to that gentleman is broadly generalized into a demand applicable to all other persons of Ottoman birth who may hereafter become naturalized citizens of the United States. Curiously enough the clause of the article in President Grant’s proclamation acceptive of the Turkish protocol concerning the enjoyment of real property by foreigners, upon which my demand for the special law in question was based, does not seem to have authority anywhere in the protocol. I beg to present the point for your particular examination, since it is but reasonable to anticipate that it will be returned to me as reply to my demand.

I have not consulted the Department before presenting this matter to the Porte, partly because I feel confident that the President will be pleased to manifest his regard for the rights of citizens so peculiarly imperiled, and partly because there will be ample time for me to receive from you such views and instructions as you may think necessary for my Government.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 126.]

Mr. Griffith to Mr. Heap.

Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 79, dated June 10, I have now the honor to inclose herewith Mr. Alexander Sidi’s naturalization papers; also a note from the honorable Second Assistant Secretary of State, to the effect that Mr. Alexander Sidi’s naturalization certificate has been placed on file in the Department.

I also beg to inclose two certificates of the city registrar of Boston, Mass., showing that Abraham Sidi, son of Alexander and Mary Sidi, was born in Boston, July 6, 1861, and that Joseph Sidi, also son of said Alexander and Mary Sidi, was born in Boston December 13, 1862.

I also take the liberty to call your attention to my dispatch No. 7, dated May 13, in reference to certain real estate Mr. Sidi owns in this city, which the authorities refuse to transfer either in his name or the name of his sons, who are native born Americans.

Mr. Sidi begs the legation to press his claim on the Sublime Porte in order that the transfer may be made, so that the property he owns may not continue to remain in jeopardy.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 126.]

Mr. Sidi to Mr. Griffith.

Sir: I beg of you to call the attention of our consul-general at Constantinople to the following facts:

According to the law granting to foreigners the right of holding and possessing property in the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman subjects by birth and who have changed their nationality have not this right, but it is specified that a special law will be made for them j but this special law has never been made.

[Page 811]

I am a United States citizen, resident there about twenty years, and two years after the above law was made two houses were allowed to be passed in my name as a United States citizen, though born here. Lately I wanted to have another store passed over to me, and the authorities forbade, on the ground that I was born in the Ottoman Empire. I wanted to pass it over to my sons, who were born in the United States, and that was not allowed also. I was even informed that the property already in my name will be vacant property after my death, which is tantamount to confiscation. Surely my Government cannot allow such anomalies to exist, and I now beg their protection to put these things to rights.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 3 in No. 126.]

Mr. Wallace to Said Pasha.

Excellency: I beg to invite your attention to the following communication, and pray that the requests presented may receive early consideration.

Mr. Alexander Sidi, of Smyrna, Turkey, in which place he was born, became a citizen of the United States of America, by process of naturalization on the 4th day of January, 1853. He lived in the United States twenty years, and while there had two sons, Abraham, born July 6, 1861, and Joseph, born December 13, 1862. Returning to Smyrna, Mr. Sidi engaged in business as a merchant, and in the year 1877 was permitted to have passed to him, as an American citizen, two houses situated in the city. Recently, through the American consul at Smyrna, he made application for a permit to have another house passed to him, but the authorities refused the application. Mr. Sidi then applied to have the third house passed to Abraham and Joseph, his sons; this the authorities also refused. Not only were the applications refused; Mr. Sidi was even informed that the two properties already in his name would become vacant upon his death.

Under this statement of facts your excellency’s attention is in the first place called to the refusal of the authorities to permit the passing of the title of the third house to Mr. Sidi’s sons.

By the terms of the protocol of 1874, giving to foreigners the privilege of acquiring real property, the right of the sons to receive title to the house would seem to be indisputable. The only ground on which a denial could be rested, as it appears to me, is that they are not citizens of the United States. I have not been able to find any law of the Empire to justify such position; if such a law exists it is a matter of great interest to my Government to be informed of it. Under impression, however, that the provisions of the protocol are sufficient to entitle the sons of Mr. Sidi, they being citizens of the United States and born such, to acquire and enjoy real property in Turkey, I have the honor to request you to be good enough to cause the proper authorities to be instructed as to the law in such cases, and that upon application renewed by the American consul the authorities be directed to permit the passing to the above-named Abraham and Joseph of the particular property mentioned in the application heretofore made and refused.

As to the application in behalf of Mr. Sidi, father: Searching for a reason for the denial in his case, we naturally recur to the protocol and its proclamation as a law by the then President of the United States to citizens of the United States. There is but one class of persons referred to in the protocol, foreigners, persons not Ottoman subjects. It is to be remarked, however, that the proclamation refers to two classes, foreigners and “Ottoman subjects who have changed their nationality.” AsMr. Sidi belongs to the latter it is of peculiar interest to ascertain his rights pertinent to the privilege conferred by the protocol, and if possible have them definitely settled.

The United States having, in conjunction with the Ottoman authorities, entered upon the regulation of the rights of her citizens in respect to the acquisition and enjoyment of real property in Turkey, it is hardly credible that the rights of such as fall within the second class of persons above referred to would be left utterly without recognition; and I am glad to say they are not. The first article of the proclamation of the President is as follows:

Article 1. Foreigners are admitted by the same privilege as Ottoman subjects, and without any other restriction, to enjoy the right of holding real estate, whether in the city or country, throughout the Empire, with the exception of the province of Hédjoz, by submitting themselves to the laws and regulations which govern Ottoman subjects, as is hereafter stated.

[Page 812]

“This arrangement does not concern subjects of Ottoman birth who have changed their nationality, who shall be governed in this matter by a special law.”

The meaning of the last clause of the article quoted may not be contested. It is true there is in it no definition of rights; there is, on the contrary, a distinct statement that the article is of no account to persons in the category of Ottoman subjects by birth who have become naturalized elsewhere; still it is not less clear that the Ottoman Government undertook to make a special law in behalf of such persons, and that the undertaking became an obligation which is of account to them and operative of results which it is my duty now to present and assert.

The case is that of a failure by a Government to perform obligations with which it is charged. What are the effects of the failure as regards the right of individuals for whose benefits the obligations were contracted?

The law called for was to provide that persons in the category stated were to have the privilege of acquiring and enjoying real property in the Empire in the same degree, if not under the same conditions, as foreigners. Had it been made Mr. Sidi’s present title could not have been menaced; as it is he is told by those in authority that upon his death his houses become vacant. This imposed it upon me to advertise you in advance that his heirs will certainly claim the property as theirs by regular descent, and that regardful of their American citizenship my Government may find itself bound to support them in their claim, which it may well do, in my judgment, on the ground of its obligation resting upon the Ottoman Government to provide the special law referred to, an obligation which it is fair to say appears to have been overlooked or purposely deferred by both the high parties concerned.

Under this presentation your excellency will not fail to see the questions of allegiance and citizenship. At the time of the proclamation of the President it is obvious they were surrounded with difficulties which I am confident do not now exist, and as one day it must be settled definitely whether persons in Mr. Sidi’s position are of any nationality in fact, and particularly as at present it would seem that with respect to the acquisition and enjoyment of real property in Turkey, they are neither Ottoman subjects nor Americans with recognized rights of any kind, I think it the part of prudence to call the subject up, and ask for it a final and amicable disposition. To that end I have the honor to request of the Turkish Government a law of the kind contemplated, by which Ottoman subjects, who have and may become naturalized American citizens, may have the benefit of the proctocol concerning real property, at least in the same degree as other citizens of the United States; also that the Sublime Porte will take such action as may be necessary to prevent diversion from the regular course of inheritance of such real property in Turkey as Mr. Sidi may be at this time entitled to or hereafter acquire.

I have, &c.,