Mr. Wallace to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Constantinople, October 15, 1882. (Received November 10.)
Sir: Dr. Frederick T. Kingsbury, a citizen of the United States, appeared at this legation a few days ago and presented a statement, of which a copy is inclosed for your perfect information.
Dr. Kingsbury is a gentleman of education and high character. Samakov, where he has his residence at present, is a considerable city of Bulgaria, in which the American Bible Society has established permanently, it seems, some schools. The doctor’s object in going there was to care medically for the schools and the American families connected with them. He entered upon his duties ignorant of the law of the principality requiring a license or permit. By and by he was induced to treat destitute people outside the schools. Immediately that he found there was a license required he made an effort to inform himself of the law and to comply with its requirements, with what results his statement will inform you. There is little doubt that his application to the medical [Page 813]council of Sofia was discouraged if not unkindly repulsed, and led to his indictment under the Bulgarian law for practicing medicine without license. To see what the legation could do to save him from the prosecution was the object of his visit to this city.
The case seems, judging from latest accounts, to have been indefinitely postponed, if not finally disposed of; yet I think you will excuse me for presenting it for consideration because of the complexity of some of the questions it raises and the prospect that issues calling for action on the part of this legation may hereafter occur between the Bulgarian authorities and the American residents in that country.
Without going into historical detail it may be simply stated that by admission of the Sublime Porte, Bulgaria is a tributary vassal of the Sultan’s, with the privileges of autonomous government, including the right to make and execute its own laws. Before the last Turco-Russian war it was a province of Turkey. Its autonomy was one of the few results of that war. In the period during which its provincial relations with the Ottoman Empire obtained, it was, of course, subject to all the capitulations granted to Christians by the rulers of the Empire and to the treaties made by them with foreign powers. But what effect has its new condition had upon the capitulation and treaties? Are they of longer application to it?
A distinction may be drawn treating of these questions between the capitulations and the treaties. The former had their origin in the difference between Ottoman modes of government and those of the western European powers, growing out of religious views and practices. Bulgaria claims now to be a Christian principality, and in all respects a civilized government. If that is admitted, the great reasons of the application of the capitulations cease to exist. Can the same be said of the treaties?
To answer this question it would appear necessary as nearly as possible to get at the relations at present existing between the Empire and the principality. The latter might be autonomous as respects the making and execution of its laws, yet dependent with respect to its foreign relations. The English, I know, obtain cerats for their consuls in Bulgaria from the Sublime Porte, a very significant circumstance. Mr. Zankoff, a delegate from the principality resident here, answered the dragoman of this legation whom I sent to interview him on that point, by saying, “The relations between the two Governments are not yet definitely settled. The Empire has over the principality no power except the right of tribute.” Yet, he immediately added, “One may address either the minister of foreign affairs at the Porte or the Bulgarian agency; but a legation, if it chooses, may address the minister of foreign affairs at Sofia.” It would appear from this that the Bulgarians have the necessary equipment for independency in treaty making, but, as yet, I have not been able to hear of one power with which they have concluded an independent treaty. Such an instrument has not been celebrated between the principality and the United States. At the time our treaty with Turkey was ratified the principality was an integral portion of the Empire. At no time since has our Government recognized or been notified of its independency. Nowhere can an acknowledgement of its independency be found for quotation by or against the Sultan. My conclusion was that whatever might be said as regards the capitulations, Bulgaria was yet governed and bound by the treaties existing between the United States and Turkey. If so, it follows with even greater certainty that Turkey is answerable to our Government for all the wrongs to person and property our citizens resident [Page 814]in Bulgaria might sustain from the authorities of the Bulgarian Government. This is the very point I wish to submit to your better judgment. As we have no diplomatic agent in that country, not even a consul, upon the occurrence of a difficulty involving one of our citizens there the application for protection and redress will certainly be presented to this legation. In such event it will be as desirable as important to be possessed of your views, if not your specific instructions.
In the case in hand, knowing that correspondence upon the subject with the Porte might be carried on through years, it occurred to me to sound the Bulgarian delegate (Mr. Zankoff) and see what could be best done for Dr. Kingsbury through his agency. To this end I sent Mr. Garguilo, the dragoman, to call upon that gentleman. Such a visit being unofficial and informal could not be offensive to the imperial authorities or do harm in any manner. Mr. Zankoff could not say how the prosecution could be stopped; he undertook, however, to telegraph his Government at Sofia for a continuance of the case, and suggested that the English consul at Sofia inform the Government there that he had it in official charge to protect American citizens.* * * The answer of the delegate was very liberal and to the point. Acting upon his suggestion I sent a note to Lord Dufferin, the British ambassador, giving an account of the affair, and requesting him to be good enough to specially instruct his consul at Sofia to take care of Dr. Kingsbury to the full extent of his authority. His lordship replied in his usual prompt and hearty manner, saying that he had very great pleasure in requesting his representative at Sofia to do the very best he could for my fellow-countryman. The next news following these measures was that the call had been indefinitely postponed. Considering the difficulty of the questions connected with this affair, that we have no relations of any kind with Bulgaria,* * *confess myself well satisfied at the turn the matter has taken.
I have, &c.,