Mr. Straus to Mr. Bayard.
Constantinople, February 24, 1888. (Received March 12.)
Sir: The American missionaries and managers of schools in this Empire have for many years enjoyed certain customs immunities which are specified in Van Dyck’s “Report on the Capitulations of the Ottoman Empire,” page 113 et seq.
These are based upon the French capitulations of 1740.
From time to time for some years past the administration of customs has restricted these immunities more and more, so that at the present time all foreign schools and benevolent institutions, our own included, have been compelled to pay duty on many classes of articles which were formerly exempt, and have in general been subject to frequent annoyance and delays. The matter at my suggestion, and under the direction of the diplomatic agents of the several powers therein interested, was referred to a meeting of the dragomans of the several embassies and legations, our own included, and they formulated a note verbale in French to the Porte setting forth their grievances; and I, after consultation with the representatives of the American missionaries, forwarded to the Porte a note verbale, of which the inclosed is a copy, which is substantially the same as has been forwarded by several of the embassies, except such slight modifications as I deemed it prudent to make.
Trusting that the action taken will meet your approval,
I have, etc.,