Mr. White to Mr. Gresham.
St. Petersburg, December 9, 1893.
(Received December 26.)
Sir: Mr. L. H. Smith, of Nicolaiefsk and Vladivostock, an American citizen doing a large business at those places and on the Amoor River, desires to purchase real estate for the purpose of his business in one or both of the places above named.
Some time since he telegraphed and mailed to me to find whether he could, under the treaties between the United States and Russia, and under the laws of the Empire, acquire landed property as above.
The Buchanan treaty seemed clear, but in view of various exceptions and the special regulations, I addressed a note to the foreign office, and obtained a very full and explicit reply, dated May 13/25, 1893, in which the following is the essential part:
Citizens of the United States have the right, by virtue of the laws of the Empire and under the same conditions as all other foreigners, to acquire and possess landed property in Russia, in confining themselves to certain restrictions enforced under article 1003 of volume 9 of the Russian Code of Laws.
These restrictions relate to the possession of real estate in the province of Turkestan, law of June 12, 1886, and of landed property outside of cities in the ten governments of Poland, and the governments of Bessarabia, Wilna, Vitebsk, Volhynia, Grodno, Kiev, Kowno, Courland, Livonia, Minsk, and Podolia, law of March 14, 1887.
Mr. Smith is now here, and with the aid of a lawyer is seeking to establish his right, and he has applied to me for a copy of the above-named note in full.
I have addressed to him a letter giving the essential part of the foreign office note above quoted, but have declined, under personal instructions, paragraph 95, on page 20, to communicate to him a certified copy of the note until authorized to do so by the Department of State.
I would now respectfully apply for this authorization, in case the Department sees fit to grant it.
Mr. Smith is engaged in large business, and, as I am credibly informed, stands well among all with whom he has to do. He seems to be a man of intelligence and high character. He is very anxious to have a complete copy, as his lawyer tells him that this will be of the very greatest value in establishing his right.
I am, etc.,