Mr. Hirsch to Mr. Blaine.
Constantinople, February 22, 1890. (Received March 17.)
Sir: I have the honor to report for the information of the Department that, notwithstanding there seems no visible progress in the endeavor to bring the notorious Moussa Bey to punishment for his murderous attack on two American missionaries, yet my efforts in that direction have evidently had some effect in very high quarters.
After my interview with the Grand Vizier, the latter official laid the subject-matter of it before His Majesty the Sultan, and I am justified in believing that he urged prompt action in the matter.[Page 743]
A few days later, however, the dragoman of this legation, Mr. Act. Gargiulo, was summoned to the palace. Upon presenting himself there, the secretary of His Majesty the Sultan proceeded to read to him a memorandum containing the views of His Majesty on the subject of my request for the punishment of Moussa Bey, the contents of which clearly prove that the Sultan has been grossly misinformed, and that an attempt has been made to prejudice his mind against our position. For the information of the Department, I will inclose a copy of the memorandum as made by Mr. Gargiulo.
His Majesty first speaks of the cordial relations existing between the two Governments, and then proceeds to remind us of the many favors shown to American missionaries ever since his accession to the throne, after elaborating on which he “regrets, and with reason, to hear that on the part of certain functionaries of the United States legation, doubts have been expressed as to the legality and the justice of the verdict issued in the trial of the matter of Moussa Bey. It can not be admitted that the United States, so well known for insisting on the principles of equity and justice, can desire the punishment of an individual notwithstanding he has in conformity with law been already declared not guilty, although on the part of certain claimants and their partisans his punishment is insisted on right or wrong;” and then follows a request to communicate the contents of the memorandum to the minister of the United States.
It is self-evident that the Sultan has been misled in this matter, and I am firmly of the opinion that it has been brought about by the efforts of the minister of justice, who has in every possible way tried to shield the criminal.
The allusion to the acquittal of Moussa Bey can certainly have no reference to the result of his examination in 1883, for we have repeated admissions on the part of the Sublime Porte since that time that said examination was not properly conducted, and that a “new and conscientious examination of the affair” should be had, and I am informed by the Grand Vizier that he communicated to the Sultan the extracts from the various notes of the Porte, which I had furnished His Highness, in which these various admissions are made. It is evident, then, that His Majesty alludes to the acquittal of Moussa Bey at the recent trial on charges brought against him by the Armenians. I am unable to see what possible connection exists between the two eases, and I am determined that they shall not be confounded, and that the culprit who committed the outrage on American citizens shall be punished if justice can be had in the Ottoman Empire.
Our dragoman, after having had the memorandum read to him, immediately stated to the secretary that His Majesty the Sultan was entirely mistaken as to our position, and on communicating its contents to me I instructed him to return to the palace as soon as possible and convey, through the secretary to His Majesty the Sultan, my sincere regrets at the evident misunderstanding of our case on his part, and my readiness to give His Majesty the fullest information in relation to it, and to show that our renewed demand for the punishment of Moussa Bey was made, not at the instigation of any outside party, but in conformity with the views of this legation as to the justice of our demand and as a consequence of the correspondence between it and the Sublime Porte, resulting in the admissions made at various times by the latter that our protest against the proceedings had against Moussa Bey in 1883 was well founded, and that a “new and conscientious examination of the affair should be had.”[Page 744]
His Majesty, notwithstanding his reply to my message, conveyed to me through his grand master of ceremonies, that he would be pleased to see me “during the week,” seems in no hurry to hear a correct statement of the case, as more than a week has passed without an appointment for an audience, and I do not feel that any more time should be lost in informing the Department of the above facts.
The memorandum, if read between the lines, will be found to contain what might be construed into a threat against the American missionaries and their great interests in this Empire, in view of which I thought it advisable to acquaint them with its contents. At a consultation held by them at the Bible House in Stamboul, the Rev. Mr. Bowen, agent of the American Bible Society, being present, they unanimously agreed to request the United States legation to continue its demand for the punishment of Moussa Bey, and communicated their request to me through Rev. Henry O. Dwight.
I have, etc.,