No. 1070.
Mr. Bayard to Mr. Straus.

No. 78.]

Sir: I transmit herewith for your information copy of a note* addressed to me by Mavreveni Bey on the 2d instant, and of my reply,* [Page 1567] both having relation to the treatment of foreign Jews resorting to Palestine.

These notes continue, and importantly enlighten, the subject to which my instruction No. 51, of 31st of October, 1887, and your report No. 57, of 28th January last, had reference.

It appears from Mavroyeni Bey’s statement that the regulation of which the Grand Vizier spoke to you, amendatory of the previous iradeh and extending the term of permitted sojourn of foreign Jews in Palestine to three months (instead of one month, as reported in Consul Gillman’s No. 26, of September 28, 1887), is coupled with a most obnoxious condition, by prescribing that such alien Israelites shall only be permitted to enter Palestine when bearing passports setting forth “that they are going to Jerusalem in the performance of a pilgrimage, and not for the purpose of engaging in commerce or taking up their residence there;” which passports, so drawn up (ainsi libellés) are to be visaed by the consuls of Turkey. A further permis de séjour is also prescribed to be issued by the Imperial authorities, and although not so stated explicitly, it is inferred that the permission in question is only granted on production of the passport itself; the declarations of which the permis de séjour is stated to repeat.

It is regarded as strange that so important a condition as this should not have been communicated to you by his excellency. Had it been brought to your notice, it is conceived that you would have considerably amplified and emphasized your declaration to the Grand Vizier, that it is one of the fundamental principles of your Government to make no distinction as to its citizens based upon “creed or race,” and that you would have made instant and earnest protest against a requirement which would not only involve a declaration by this Government, expressed or inferential, in its formal passports, of the creed of the citizens to whom they are issued, but would further infringe the laws and practice in the matter whereby this Department and its agents are governed, and which preclude giving to citizens of the United States preparing to go abroad any certificate as to their purpose in so going.

To require of applicants for passports, which under our laws are issued to all citizens upon the sole evidence of their citizenship, any announcement of their religious faith or declaration of their personal motives in seeking such passports, would be utterly repugnant to the spirit of our institutions and to the intent of the solemn proscription forever by the Constitution of any religious test as a qualification of the relations of the citizen to the Government, and would, moreover, assume an inquisitorial function in respect of the personal affairs of the individual, which this Government can not exert for its own purposes, and could still less assume to exercise with the object of aiding a foreign Government in the enforcement of an objectionable and arbitrary discrimination against certain of our citizens.

Our adherence to these principles has been unwavering since the foundation of our Government, and you will be at no loss to cite pertinent examples of our consistent defense of religious liberty, which, as I said in my note to Baron Schaeffer of May 18, 1885, in relation to the Keiley episode at Vienna, “is the chief corner-stone of the American system of Government, and provisions for its security are embedded in the written charter and interwoven in the moral fabric of its laws.”

In case a copy of the Keiley correspondence should not be on file in your legation, I inclose the printed document herewith for your convenience.

It may be well for you to ascertain as discreetly as may be the views [Page 1568] of your colleagues in respect of this remarkable requirement of the iradeh in question, of which you should also endeavor to secure a copy for examination; but under any circumstances the impossibility of this Government’s acceding to any such requirement should be distinctly made known to the Government of the Sublime Porte.

I am, etc.,

T. F. Bayard.
  1. See Docs. Nos. 1104 and 1105, post, p, 1627.
  2. See Docs. Nos. 1104 and 1105, post, p. 1627.