Mr. Pratt to Mr. Blaine.
Teheran, April 17, 1889. (Received May 27.)
Sir: I have the honor to report that the American missionaries at Tabriz, wishing to dispose of their present place of worship (which had become too unsafe for further use), applied to his excellency, the Emir Nizam, governor of the province, for permission to purchase a site upon which to erect another building for the purpose in question.
On account of certain charges against the Roman Catholic and Anglican missionaries under British protection, it appears that a general order had been issued prohibiting the erection of any new Christian churches in the Emir’s province (Azerbijan). Hence, his excellency stated that it would be impossible for him to grant the permission desired, unless an order to that effect were sent him from the central government at Teheran, and advised that the missionaries should endeavor to obtain this through me.
There was accordingly sent me a petition embodying the above, a copy of which I have the honor to inclose herewith for your consideration.
It was also suggested by certain of the missionaries that by presenting the facts of the case to Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, the British minister here, and to the French minister, Mr. de Balloy, it might be possible by united effort to obtain a rescinding of the general prohibitory order before mentioned.
I did not feel at liberty, however, even where it concerned a non-political matter of this nature, to undertake joint action with the envoys [Page 645]of other powers without your cognizance and authorization; besides which the propriety of such a mode of procedure appeared to me questionable, it being in my opinion more politic for your representative here to pursue, as far as possible, an entirely independent course in his dealings with this Government.
Accordingly I thought best (in a private interview I had with him previous to his departure with the Shah) to lay the petition of the American missionaries directly before the first minister, his excellency the Emine Soltan, and am happy to state that the result has been an official order to the Emir Nizam authorizing our people at Tabriz to purchase land and erect their church as desired.
The plan I adopted for the arrangement of this affair, as above reported, will, I trust, meet with your approval.
I have, etc.,