Mr. Blaine to Mr. Hirsch.

No. 82.]

Sir: I transmit, for your information, a copy of a letter from the Rev. Judson Smith, of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, in further relation to the local interference in Turkish territory with the legitimate book trade of our citizens there; also a copy of the answer made by the Department.

I am, etc.,

James G. Blaine.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 82.]

Mr. Smith to Mr. Blaine.

Sir: A communication recently received from Constantinople gives me information of the interference which the Turkish Government is making with the book department of our missionary work in the Turkish Empire. These interferences are of such a sort, and are so persistently followed up, as to imply a ready disposition, if not a fixed purpose, to annoy our laborers and hamper our work, contrary to the spirit, if not also to the letter, of the treaty regulations under which our missionary work in the Turkish Empire has long been carried on.

[Page 764]

The books which are prepared at Constantinople for the varied uses of the mission in different parts of the Empire are detained at the various custom-houses distributed throughout the Empire upon the most frivolous pretext, and apparently at the mere discretion of local officials, the Central Government seeming to ignore the irregularity or to wink at it. Books that have received the required authorization of the Turkish Government are thus detained from their proper destination, and the legitimate work of the missionary boards and the Bible society in the Empire is thus seriously interfered with and defeated. I am informed that the whole situation has been fully laid before Mr. Hirsch, the United States minister at Constantinople, and that he has communicated the same to the Department of State at Washington. I may therefore assume that the facts are substantially before you, and I write, not so much to detail them and set forth their character as to make them the occasion of a special appeal to our Government to give the matter thorough consideration, and within the proper limits to instruct Mr. Hirsch to see that all the rights which belong to American citizens in the Empire are fully respected by the Turkish Government and all its officials, and are effectually secured.

We understand very well that our Government can not directly undertake the furtherance of the missionary work which we are carrying on in Turkey as such. We only desire that American citizens who are engaged in this work, and to whom definite rights and privileges have been assured by treaty stipulation, shall not be wantonly deprived of these rights by the unlawful and unauthorized action of officials in the Turkish Empire. The time has come when our Government may well take a tone of dignity and firmness in dealing with the Turkish Government in this matter, and make known too clearly to be mistaken its purpose to insist upon and to secure to its citizens within the limits of the Turkish Empire all the rights which have been enjoyed by the most favored nation, and which have been included in the treaty stipulations in the past. Such a tone will certainly command respect and will in due time secure the end desired, and we are fully assured that your personal judgment will heartily fall in with your official expressions upon the subject.

With great respect, etc.,

Judson Smith.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 82.]

Mr. Wharton to Mr. Smith.

Sir: Your letter of the 2d instant is received. The dispatches of Mr. Hirsch have assured the Department that he is making all proper efforts to remove the obstacles placed in the way of the legitimate book trade of American citizens in Turkey, and his efforts will continue to receive approval. A copy of your letter will be sent to him.

I am, etc.,

William F. Wharton,
Assistant Secretary.