Mr. Straus to Mr. Blaine.

No 178.]

Sir: Herewith I have the honor to inclose copy of a memorandum delivered to me on the 12th instant by the Rev. Henry O. Dwight, of the levant agency of the American Bible House, at Constantinople. By this report it appears that the Ottoman authorities in the vilayet of [Page 714] Van, a province in eastern Turkey near the Persian frontier, have closed several schools of the American missionaries in that locality. The number is not stated, but I learn it is four or five. It is stated that the managers of said schools have complied with the regulations requiring the submission by them to the vilayet authorities of a list of the books used in such schools, together with the curriculum of studies, and the certificates of the teachers.

I presented the matter on yesterday to his highness the Grand Vizier, and he promptly telegraphed to the vali, or governor-general of Van, to permit the re-opening of said schools, if they have complied with the provision of the school laws above referred to. There may be some delay in having these orders promptly complied with. I am of opinion that I shall succeed in having them re-opened without unreasonable postponement.

I learn that the original cause for closing these schools was because of their managers neglecting or refusing to submit to the regulations above referred to. I surmise that even now there continues in that respect some evasion. We have long since admitted the propriety and justice of these requirements, yet there is a tendency on the part of certain managers in distant provinces to evade the law.

I have, etc.,

O. S. Straus.
[Inclosure in No. 178.]

Memorandum drawn up by Rev H. O. Dwight.

(1) About ten years ago (1878) the American missionaries residing at Van established a common school in the village of Agautz in the Sanjak of Arjish (vilayet of Van). The school has been carried on without objection from the local authorities, and in 1886, on receipt of the instructions contained in the letter of Mr. Pendleton King, dated December 13, 1886, it complied with the regulations there set forth, and has done nothing contrary to these regulations.

In the summer of 1887 the governor-general of the province, Halil Pasha, ordered the school to be closed. Dr. G. C. Raynolds, the American missionary responsible for the school, applied to the director of the instruction in the province tor a removal of the instructions laid on this school, pointing out that it had existed for a number of years and had conformed to the law in all respects.

After long delays Dr. Raynolds received, on the 7th of February, 1889, a verbal communication from the director of instruction (Mearif Mudiri) of the province to the effect that the school could not be re-opened, since certain Armenians in the village objected to the existence of a Protestant school at Agautz.

Dr. Raynolds then pointed out that the school was opened at the request of the Protestant families residing in the village, and had violated none of the school regulations.

The director of instruction then remarked that the continuance of the school was in violation of a new school law. He, however, refused to furnish Dr. Raynolds with a copy of the law, or to give his refusal to authorize the re-opening of the school in writing.

Since it is evident that there is no law of the Empire making the continuance of the schools of Americans dependent upon the consent of the population no one being forced to attend such schools, it is hoped that the governor-general of Van may be instructed to cease interposing his prohibition against the continuance of this school.

(2) The American missionaries residing at Urmiah, in Persia, have for many years conducted schools in several villages in the plain of Gawar, district of Hakkiari, province of Van, near the Persian frontier.

These schools were summarily closed in the early part of 1888, and on the recommendation of the United States legation care was taken to conform to section 129 of the school law. In October of 1888 the schools were re-opened without objection from the local authorities. Subsequently, however, the governor-general of Van ordered the schools to be closed, and required a fresh presentation of books and course of study to his office.

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The books were presented as required, and the governor-general gave decision against the re-opening of the schools on the ground that he could not allow American citizens to open schools in this district.

Since these schools have been carried on by Americans for many years without complaint against them it is hoped that their continuance may be permitted by the Imperial Government.