Mr. Straus to Mr. Blaine.

No. 195.]

Sir: I have the honor to bring to the attention of the Department the following state of facts concerning the refusal of the Ottoman Government to recognize the American citizenship of Meimaraghlou Yorghi, naturalized under the name of George Meimar:

On the 31st January last the Sublime Porte addressed a note-verbale to this legation informing it that, in a suit pending at Smyrna against the said Meimar as defendant, wherein an Ottoman subject, Kapédjioglou, is plaintiff, the said Meimar set up the plea that he was an American citizen. The Sublime Porte requested the legation to instruct its consul at Smyrna not to interfere in the matter, alleging that the said Meimar is an Ottoman subject, and that he has never legally divested himself of his nationality of origin; that while it is true that the said Meimar had gone to America and remained there for a number of years, he had never complied with the requirements of the Ottoman law relating to foreign nationality.

The further facts in the case are set forth in the dispatch of our consul, Mr. Emmet, to the consul-general, No. 90, of March 22, 1889, a copy of which is inclosed.

On the 4th April last, after I received the above dispatch of Mr. Emmet, I replied to the Porte, stating that Meimar is an American citizen, duly naturalized as such, and that therefore the action of the consul was approved by the legation, and it was hoped that, these facts appearing, the ministry of foreign affairs would instruct the authorities at Smyrna to recognize Meimar as an American citizen and accord him the rights appertaining thereto. To this answer and request the Porte made no reply; but in the mean time the court at Smyrna, to wit, March 6 last, gave judgment for the plaintiff against the defendants above named for the sum of £1,400 Turkish, the amount claimed, with interest, overruling the plea of Meimar’s attorney as to the American nationality of his client. In this connection I would state that Meimar in his interview with me said that he has no property out of which the judgment can be satisfied, but that his father, co-defendant, has property. He further stated that if the Ottoman authorities could be made to recognize his American citizenship the judgment would be vacated and the plaintiff would have to begin his action anew.

[Page 719]

This is correct, as a foreign subject has to be sued through the intervention of his consul in the mixed tribunal. In the mean time, of course, his father could, if he wished, dispose of his property. Having received no reply from the Porte to my note above mentioned, I asked for one; the minister of foreign affairs stated (verbally) that under the Ottoman nationality law of 1869 no Ottoman subject has the right to change his nationality unless with the consent of the Sultan: that said Mei-mar had not applied for nor obtained such consent, and that therefore he approved the decision of the court at Smyrna.

The minister of foreign affairs further stated that the Ottoman Government after long negotiations had finally consented to the treaty of naturalization proposed by our Government, with the purpose and object of avoiding the discussions and conflicts arising from disputed nationality, and that until such treaty is accepted his Government felt bound to give validity to its laws within its territory.

In this connection I have the honor to refer you to Secretary Bayard’s instruction No. 30, of July 26, 1887, in reply to Mr. King’s dispatch No. 323, of May 14, 1887, setting forth a number of cases of disputed nationality.

Awaiting your instructions in this matter,

I have, etc.,

O. S. Straus.
[Inclosure in No. 195.]

Mr. Emmet to Mr. Pringle.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your No. 85, bearing date 15th instant, with inclosures from Hon. O. S. Straus, No. 124, dated February 4, and note-verbale daied January 31 from Sublime Porte in reference to my action in protecting Mr. Meimar.

The facts of the case are as follows:

Mr. Meimaroglou Yorghi, born an Ottoman subject, left Smyrna some years ago and resided in the United States, where he became naturalized on June 28, 1888. Being summoned in great haste to attend the death-bed of his mother, he returned to Smyrna in October last without a passport, but bearing the certificate of his naturalization all in due form. Prior to his departure for America he had been in business here, and was a bankrupt when he left the country.

One of the first things to occur upon his return was the commencement of a suit to settle an outstanding claim. Mr. George Meimar (as named in his naturalization certificate) appeared at this consulate and demanded protection as an American citizen. My answer to him was that although his certificate was in proper form I doubted whether he would be recognized as an American citizen by the local authorities, inasmuch as he bad left Turkey after the passage of the law of 1869 and had not obtained an imperial iradé permitting him to change his nationality; that his change of nationality did not prevent his creditors from suing for claims which existed before he left here, and that the only form of protection I could afford him would he to insist upon the presence of the consulate dragoman and a delegate to take part at the trial of his suit.

These privileges were demanded at the court, but denied when the case was called for trial, on the ground that Mr. Meimar was an Ottoman subject and not entitled to the protection of this consulate. The trial was postponed. This same view was taken by the secretary of foreign affairs and communicated to me, against which I urgently protested and claimed the right to protect Mr. Meimar by virtue of the papers held by him establishing his American citizenship.

What has become of Mr. Meimar or his case, I am unable to state, as he has not appeared at the consulate for more than a month. His stay in Turkey was to be a short one, and for that reason perhaps the local authorities desire to have undisputed control over him.

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When you were in Smyrna last, you may recall meeting two lawyers at this consulate who went over the case and its merits very thoroughly.

I could not do less for Mr. Meimar under the circumstances, and at the same time everything was done in a quiet manner without sacrificing his rights or giving offense to the local authorities. I am somewhat surprised to find that the intervention of the legation has been sought.

I have, etc.,

W. C. Emmet.