No. 534.
Mr. Wallace to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 175.]

Sir: The answer of the minister of foreign affairs to my note No. 126, concerning the right of American citizens to convey real estate, has been received, and I have the honor to inclose a copy and translation of it for your consideration. You will observe the Porte makes concession of the rights of Mr. Sidi’s sons, but persists in denying everything to the father himself.

As this affair is really of interest to other powers, as well as our own, I have thought it best to put another protest on file applicable particularly to the case of Sidi, father. A copy of this paper is also inclosed.

If an answer to the last communication is unreasonably delayed, I will submit the question to my colleagues of the diplomatic corps generally, and endeavor to secure their co-operation.

Very respectfully, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 175.—Translation.]

Aarifi Pasha to Mr. Wallace.

Sir: As I was about answering the note that your excellency was good enough to write to my department on the 25th of last September, No. 127, relative to the affair of Mr. Alexander Sidi, an American merchant at Smyrna, I received your communication of the 2d of this month, No. 140, on the same subject.

The governor-general of the vilayet of Aidin, questioned on this affair, has just informed us that Mr. Sidi, Ottoman subject, born in Smyrna, becoming afterwards a naturalized American citizen, could not possess real estate in Turkey, as stated in paragraph 2 of the first article of the law of the 7th Sopher, 1284, which accords to foreigners the right to possess real property. This exclusion, however, does not extend to his two children, whose birth in the United States has been established, and who have consequently been admitted to the enjoyment of the faculty of transferring real estate in their own name.

Concerning property entered in the name of Mr. Sidi, it comes under the application of Article III of the code on real estate. This legal provision is the one provided for in the second paragraph of the first article of the law of the 7th Sépher, 1284.

I avail, &c.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 175.]

Mr. Wallace to Aarifi Pasha.

No. 146.]

Highness: The note dated January 21, 1883, relative to the affair of Mr. Alexander Sidi, of Smyrna, has been received at this legation. If I presume to address you again upon the subject, you will be good enough, I trust, to attribute it to the great interest my Government naturally feels in the question presented, and my own desire, not less great, that the two powers should happily dispose of what may become a serious business before a case actually arises for settlement. I beg in the first place to thank your highness for the declaration, which I understand to be as authoritative as it is explicit, that the exclusion from the right to hold real property in Turkey, as maintained in your note, does not extend to the children of Mr. Sidi born in the United States.

[Page 834]

The next proposition of your highness, that Article III of the code of real estate is the special law provided for in the second paragraph of the first article of the 7th Sépher, 1284 (June 10, 1867), cannot he accepted by my Government. As a conclusion, it is held to be unwarranted by the language used in President Grant’s proclamation. The code referred to was in force in 1858, long prior to the protocol conferring upon foreigners the privileges under consideration, and unless the object had been to give rights to naturalized citizens of the United States formerly Ottoman subjects in contravention of the code, mention of them would not have been made at all. Most conclusively, however, Article III of the code is a general law, while the paragraph of the proclamation relative to the class of citizens described calls for a special law. All these points, it is to be further remarked, are consistent with the presumption that my Government, in accepting the protocol, could not have intended to dishonor itself by an arrangement so palpably prejudicial to any portion of its citizens as that which would result if your highness’s argument were admitted.

Putting the general question aside, however, and viewing the matter as of interest to Mr. Alexander Sidi alone, I may be allowed to say it is hardly conceivable that the Sublime Porte will do itself the wrong of disputing his rights, deriving as they do a peculiar coloring from peculiar circumstances of the case. On the 4th January, 1853, he became a citizen of the United States by naturalization. After twenty years’ residence in that country he returned to Smyrna to pursue the vocation of merchant. In 1877 he was permitted to have two houses passed to him as an American citizen: his title to them was duly perfected; nor was there an objection made either to his acquisition of the property or the holding it until last year, when he sought the authorities to give him permission to dispose of it, a request which they refused on the ground that he could not possess real property. Now, I pray your highness to permit me to make yet more conspicuous some of the points in connection with this brief history which a person evilly disposed toward the imperial Ottoman Government could use against it with powerful effect:

The acquisition of the property by Mr. Sidi originally was with permission of £he authorities, for without such permission he could not have taken it.
He held it in open notorious enjoyment for nearly seven years without objection from the authorities.
At length, wishing to sell it, he addressed himself to the authorities, who refused to grant him the necessary permit to do so.
And then the authorities informed him that the privileges of the protocol did not extend to him, because he had been an Ottoman subject before he became a naturalized American citizen.
The authorities did more: they informed him that at his death the property so acquired would inure to the Government for religious behoofs.

Observe, I pray your highness, to what this last declaration commits your Government. Is it not saying in fact that though Mr. Sidi acquired no title to the property in the first instance, yet his death will cure all defects, and give the state a perfected title; that whether he wished to or not he shall carry the property inalienably to his grave, and then it shall be diverted to religion for the glorification of God? Speaking with becoming reverence, I do not believe God would be gratified by enrichment in such a manner; but be that as it may, the world has a name for such a transaction which courtesy forbids me to use. I have not the slightest doubt that your highness will view the affair as I do; wherefore; praying pardon for the length of this communication, I beg to renew my former protests against the decision announced, and, as a special matter, request that a permit may be ordered by which Mr. Alexander Sidi can dispose of the property already acquired by him.

It may be of some influence to assure your highness that my Government has approved the paper I had the honor to transmit to you, touching this subject, dated September 25 last, and numbered 127.

I avail, &c.,