Mr. Porter to Mr.
Washington, June 8,
Sir: I herewith inclose copies of letters from Mr.
J. J. Arakelyan, of Boston, of the 16th and 29th ultimo, complaining that
the Government of Turkey imposes taxes upon and exacts onerous duties of his
relatives in the town of Arabkir, owing to his absence.
Upon the receipt of Mr. Arakelyan’s letter of the 16th, he was told that
before any measures could be taken in the premises he must furnish proof of
his naturalization. His letter of the 29th, therefore, inclosed a certified
copy of such paper.
Taxation may no doubt be imposed, in conformity with the law of nations, by a
sovereign on the property within his jurisdiction of a person who is
domiciled in and owes allegiance to a foreign country. It is otherwise,
however, as to a tax imposed, not on such property, but on the person of the
party taxed when elsewhere domiciled and elsewhere a citizen. Such a decree
is internationally void, and an attempt to execute it by penalties on the
relatives of the party taxed gives the person as taxeda right to appeal for
diplomatic intervention to the Government to which he owes allegiance. To
sustain such a claim it is not necessary that the penalties should have been
imposed originally and expressly on the person so excepted from
jurisdiction. It is enough if it appears that the tax was levied in such a
way as to reach him through his relatives.
It is desired, therefore, that you bring the complaint of Mr. Arakelyan, as
cited in the inclosed copies of his letters, to the notice of the Ottoman
Government, requesting that the sum received for any taxes imposed on his
relatives on his account be refunded, that the value of the road services
rendered by Mr. Arakelyan’s brother be returned, and that no further taxes
on account of Mr. Arakelyan be imposed on his family.
I am, &c.,
JAS. D. PORTER,
[Inclosure 1 in No. 293.]
Mr. Arakelyan to
Dear Sir: I was about nineteen years old when I
left Turkey and came to the United States. It is now nearly eighteen
years that I have been in this country, where I have married an American
lady, and become so permanently settled, that it is not likely I shall
ever return to the East. For more than fourteen years I have been an
American citizen, tax-payer, and voter. My father, Arakel Jangigian (an
Armenian), with his family, resides in the town of Arabkir, Harpoot
Pashalik, Turkey. His circumstances, like the majority of those in that
land, are not in a prosperous condition, and I am obliged to aid him
Letters from him tell me that the Turkish Government not only continue
the habit of collecting taxes from him, on my account, but to improve
the roads of that vicinity (compelling the people to work without pay)
they have taken my young brother and kept him double length of the
required time because of my absence.
I thought the best way to adjust the matter would be to write you the
facts, feeling sure that you will kindly exercise your official power to
right these wrongs and have justice done to these poor people. Above
all, to see that the Turkish government does not require a tax and
substitute for an American citizen who resides in America!
Cannot our minister there at Constantinople, through your request, inform
the Turkish Government that I have ceased to be honored by being their
subject? They must drop my name from their records. But of course you
will know what is best to do. I feel anxious for my father and family,
and whatever you may do to relieve them from such oppression will very
greatly oblige me.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 293.]
Mr. Arakelyan to
Dear Sir: Thanking you for your favor of the
26th instant, I inclose the certified copy of my certificate of
naturalization, which it did not occur to me to mention before,
supposing the fact of my being a citizen and voter implied that I must
have been naturalized. I beg leave to correct one statement in the first
letter, wherein I said I had been a citizen for fourteen years, whereas
I find it will be thirteen years in November.
I shall most gratefully appreciate your endeavor to convince the Turkish
Government of the injustice of which I feel I have ample ground for
complaint, when taxed in a country which I left while still a minor. In
fact, I cannot perceive that they have a right to tax me, or take a
substitute for me, any more than for thousands of other American
citizens residing in America and paying their taxes here.