Mr. Gresham to Mr. Terrell.

No. 209.]

Sir: I inclose herewith copy of a letter from Mr. William Dulles, jr., treasurer of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church of the United States, transmitting copies of statements prepared by Rev. E. W. McDowell referring to (1) prosecution of the case against the assailants of Miss Melton in Amadia and Mosul, (2) complicity of the Turkish Government with the assailants, (3) points in regard to building of residences in Mosul, Turkey.

The Department, in the light of Mr. Dulles’s letter and the memoranda of Mr. McDowell, is at a loss to understand the statement in your telegram received here on the 21st ultimo, “Final judgment delayed by absence of witnesses.” It is represented that the conviction of Miss Melton’s assailants by the trial court has been affirmed on review by the higher court at Bagdad, and that it only remains to fix the sentence. However this may be, your instructions warrant you in using all possible effort to avert a miscarriage of justice at this late day by any of the subterfuges which Mr. McDowell apprehends.

With regard to the obstruction interposed by the authorities of Mosul to the building of residences there by the American agents of the board, the rights of our citizens under the existing real estate protocol could probably be better asserted and more practically defended were the land recorded in the name of the American owners and not in that of a native. This suggestion has been orally made to Mr. McDowell, who with Mr. Dulles has recently been in Washington.

I am, etc.,

W. Q. Gresham.
[Inclosure in No. 209.]

Mr. Dulles to Mr. Gresham.

Sir: Referring to my brief interview with you this morning, I now hand you as suggested letter of introduction from Hon. John W. Foster, addressed to you, also copies of statements which have been prepared by Rev. E. W. McDowell referring to (1) prosecution of the case against the assailants of Miss Melton in Amadia and Mosul, (2) complicity of the Turkish Government with the assailants, (3) points in regard to building of residences in Mosul, Turkey.

Some of the information in these papers may be already in the possession of the Department, but we have availed of the presence in this country of Mr. McDowell to secure these definite statements, bringing the matters referred to up to the present date.

In seeking an interview, I have desired to put at the command of the Department any information which might be desired or obtained personally from Mr. McDowell.

[Page 694]

We are abundantly satisfied that the Department has done all that it could, and is ready to do whatever is necessary in the future to protect the rights of American citizens in Turkey. The fear that is constantly before us is that by some adroit delay the opposing influences in Turkey may let the impression go abroad that the rights of our Americans there are somewhat uncertain.

In the present instance if, as we are informed, they intend to go again into the question of seeking evidence in reference to the assault of Miss Melton, they may seriously hurt our cause, because of the absence from Turkey of Miss Melton and Mr. McDowell. It appears that they delayed and were in Turkey until this case had been absolutely decided, the testimony taken at Mosul reviewed at Bagdad and returned to Mosul approved. Mr. McDowell was definitely told that the accused persons had been convicted and would be immediately sentenced. We can not but feel that most vigorous action is needed through the legation at Constantinople to prevent any alteration of the verdict at this date.

The action of Minister Terrell has repeatedly called for our special approval, as we have written to the Department, and we are equally confident that you will in any future communication let him know that he can depend upon the approval of the Department of State in maintaining the rights of American citizens.

Minister Terrell has also before him at this time questions concerning the hindrances to our building certain residences in Mosul upon property already bought for this purpose. It is to be hoped that he will speedily secure from the Turkish Government the recognition of our seemingly unquestionable right to erect buildings for the purpose of residence.

In all these questions that have arisen we take no issue with the general principle of sovereignty which entitles any nation to exclude from its dominions aliens who are not desired either as citizens or residents. The questions involved are:

As to securing proper punishment, and, if it seems best, indemnity, for a physical assault upon an American citizen.
The right to erect dwelling houses in accordance with established custom and law in the Turkish Empire.

It must be a regret to ask the Department to consider again this question, but if such an assault has been committed and by any chance goes unpunished, there can be little doubt that the very lives of Americans in that country will be in jeopardy.

Yours, etc.,

William Dulles, Jr.
[Subinclosure 1 in No. 209.—Statement of Rev. Mr. McDowell.]

Prosecution of the case against the assailants of Miss Melton in Amadia and Mosul.

in amadia.

Early in the morning after the assault upon Miss Melton I called upon the Government officials in Amadia, the kaimakum, and judge, and notified them of the occurrence.

I had found some cartridge shells and unexploded cartridges on the ground where the guns had been fired. I showed these to the kaimakum and the judge. They both instantly exclaimed, “Why, it was Amadians.” I acquiesced and they at once, seeing what such an admission involved, began to ascribe it to other parties who could not possibly have done it, and grew angry at any further intimation on our part that the assailants were Amadians.

[Page 695]

I asked for an immediate investigation and the arrest of the guilty parties. The officials at first good humoredly promised to investigate; delayed and were urged by me. They then belittled the affair, saying it was not worthy of serious attention as it was only a woman. On being further urged they became angry, went through the form of an investigation, but endeavored to prevent our communicating with Mosul. They showed great hostility to us, and the people of the country seeing this began to insult us with the added remark, “You can’t do anything; you have no king.”

I had secretly dispatched a messenger with letters for the missionaries in Mardin, who, on receiving them, at my suggestion telegraphed to our minister at Constantinople.

He acted promptly and vigorously, and very strong orders were telegraphed to the vali at Mosul for our protection and the punishment of the guilty parties. The vali at once sent a squad of soldiers to Amadia, whose appearance in our behalf had a salutary effect on both people and government.

The local authorities now felt compelled to act. The circumstantial evidence pointed strongly toward the koords of Amadia. The kaimakum arrested two koords from a village near by, notorious chaxacters, and then arrested a large number of the Syrians of Daree, our friends. Their arrest was preposterous, as there was not the slightest evidence against them, nor were they of such character as would render their doing such a deed probable. The purpose of the Government was soon evident.

I disclaimed having any suspicions against the Syrians and asked that after they had duly examined them and had found nothing to incriminate them that they dismiss them. This they expressed a willingness to do on condition of my signing a paper. I looked at the paper. It ostensibly dismissed the case against the Syrians, but was so worded that it dismissed our case altogether, saying practically that satisfaction had been rendered. I refused to sign it and they refused to release the Syrians.

For two weeks they tried by craft to obtain my signature to a statement which would dismiss our case.

By threats and severe confinement they sought to force the Syrians to give false testimony, going so far as to put words in their mouths and commanding them to testify thus.

Failing in these two things, they offered to compromise with me; they would release the Syrians, our friends, if I would permit the release of the koords, and drop the case.

I refused and secured an order from Mosul for the release of the Syrians The government made another effort to secure a paper from me and failing, released the Syrians and also the koords who had not been tried and who, as it turned out since, were implicated in the assault.

They then sent a false report to Mosul, to the effect that they had diligently investigated the case, which was not serious; that some of the villagers had fired guns to frighten her out of the village, and that she in starting up had struck her head against her bed, but I had exaggerated the case; that they had arrested some parties, and the case was finished.

I sent a counter statement to the vali, which had greater weight, and the soldiers were returned with sharp orders to the kaimakum to bring the guilty parties at once or to come himself to answer for the offense.

By this time suspicion pointed strongly toward the Mustafa Effendi, Abdul Aziz Agha, and Sadullah, all in the government, and Khaleel Effendi. They are the chief men of Amadia and notorious robbers.

On receiving this order from the vali of Mosul the kaimakum made one more effort to dismiss the case and failed.

They then called a council of koords at the top of the mountain. There were present the kaimakum and all the city officials, koordish chiefs from neighboring districts, and all the merchants of Amadia, the entire market being closed. This council lasted two days, and at the close the kaimakum, as I learned through koordish friends, said to his men, “I have kept the thing off as long as I can. I have got to take some one or be taken. Deliver up the guilty parties.” They said, “Give us three days and we will do it.” He replied, “If you can do it in three days, you can do it in one. Come down with me to the city.” This they refused to do, but by strategy he arrested Mustafa Effendi and Abdul Aziz Agha. This angered the koords, who made dire threats against the kaimakum and us.

The next day they seized the gates of the city and cut off all supplies, both provisions and water. By the help of friendly koords this seige was raised the same day, and the parties under arrest advised against violence.

The kaimakum having been compelled to act against the koords, and having incurred their hatred, now broke with them and placed himself with us. In doing so he told me frankly that he had been working against us. He arrested some other parties, and after much trouble they were taken to Mosul.

[Page 696]

the case in mosul.

The vali in Mosul, under strong pressure from Constantinople, had been forced to this vigorous action, which resulted in the imprisonment of seven of the chief men of Amadia in Mosul. The judge in Mosul, who stands next to the vali in authority, and who corresponds to a judge of our Supreme Court, from the first used his influence in behalf of the prisoners.

In Amadia it was reported among the koords that Mustafa Effendi and his companions had secured the judge (i. e., by bribes) and would soon be home. We learned, too, of large sums of money being collected from their friends and sent to Mosul.

Hearing that the prisoners had been given the freedom of the city, I went to Mosul and called upon the vali, who told me that he had been opposed in his efforts to prosecute the case by the judge and the prosecuting attorney, who had been bribed. He said that he had already reported them to the General Government, and advised me to telegraph to the same effect to our minister. I received additional proof from another source and telegraphed. The attorney was transferred to Bagdad. The judge, however, created a counter opposition to the vali, and for some reason he (the vali) was removed. As soon as he knew he was to go he accepted a bribe from the prisoners and surrendered the case into the hands of the judge. I called upon him and he told me very bluntly that he had to go and had turned the case over to the judge. I reminded him that so long as he was there he was vali, and was bound to act in accordance with his instructions in reference to our case. He answered roughly that he had no authority now that it was known he was removed; no one would obey him. I expressed regret that after his good services in our behalf it should be said that he had received a bribe against us. He denied it. I asked him if he had not received a very fine horse from the family of one of the prisoners, Mustafa Effendi. He acknowledged he had, but claimed that he had paid for it and was going to give it to the Sultan.

This of course was evidence sufficient, but I had satisfactory evidence from other sources that he had received not only the horse, but money as well.

The government was now against us, and they resorted to various tricks to clear the prisoners before the arrival of the new vali.

By false pretense they got Miss Melton to sign a writ of summons to appear against the prisoners at a date already passed. They told her it was simply a certification that she had reached Mosul safely.

They endeavored to get me to sign the same on the same pretext, and on my refusing to do so charged me with obstructing the law. Failure to appear on the date set would have been used to dismiss the case.

They then tried to force us to appear as prosecutors and to prove our case against the prisoners. I took the ground that we were not the prosecutors and that we were not under obligations to furnish evidence.

The judge sent me a message conveying a threat that if I did not appear he would bring me.

They made every effort to dismiss the case before the arrival of the new vali, who, too, would have to be bribed. The brothers of the accused seized a young Syrian, who from certain circumstances seemed adapted to their purpose, and offered him a large bribe if he would confess that he guided the party to the tent, and give the names of certain Syrians and distant Koords as the perpetrators of the deed. They assured him that they could soon secure his release from prison. He refused, and they threatened to kill him. He escaped to his home. They followed him, and he fled to me for protection. They came twice to my premises to get him. He went before the Government and took oath to that effect, and they were arrested and taken to Mosul.

Again, a well-formed plan was laid to lay the guilt upon certain Koords, whose village was distant and in an inaccessible part of the mountain.

They were ignorant of the fact that that night, i. e., of the attack on Miss Melton, a friend of mine, under orders of a great agha, a friend of the prisoners, had led those same Koords from their village to a village appointed by the agha, a great ways from Doree, and was with them all night. I allowed this to get out that I had the information, and as besides the effectiveness of my counter testimony this testimony would have implicated the great agha, under whose orders the Koords had moved, they dropped the matter, although they had their witnesses ready.

The prisoners then sent overtures to me, promising eternal friendship and the fullest liberty in the mountains if I would drop the case, and this being refused they sent veiled threats. Besides these, other efforts were made to close the case before the new vali should arrive.

The new vali came, sent, so we were told, with special reference to our case, and with special authority to finish it.

His conduct did not bear out the first and he denied the second, saying it was the business of the court to try the case. He promised, however, and delayed. We [Page 697] secured further orders from Constantinople, and he appointed a commission to go to Amadia and investigate the case.

The commission was a very able one, one of its members having served as head of a commission on international business. The others, too, were picked men. They went to Amadia, where they spent some weeks in investigation of the affair, and secured testimony from Koords, given on oath before the commission and the local judge, implicating the men under arrest.

This testimony was presented to the vali and judge in Mosul. My agent was present. The chairman of the commission handed the vali a paper containing a list of names, some of which were in red ink, some in black. The former were names of men more directly involved in the attack, either having gone to the tent or planned the attack; the latter as accessories in various ways.

The vali remarked that the names of Mustafa Effendi and Sadullah were in black ink. Abdullah Pasha, head of the commission, returned such answer that the vali took his pen and drew a red line underneath their names, thus including them in the first class. The vali assured me then that the case was finished; that the prisoners had been found guilty. But days passed and nothing further was done, various pretexts were offered as reasons for the delay. Then many of the prisoners were released and’ sent home, and two of the principal ones, Mustafa Effendi and Sadullah, released on bail. This seemed to be due to a relaxation of pressure in Constantinople. They promised to arrest others, but failed to do so. They again came to Miss Melton and me for statements covering ground we had already gone over several times.

We answered the questions until their purpose became evident, viz, to secure statements which would enable them to stay proceedings on ground of error, and then I refused to answer any further questions except in the presence of our consul. They pressed us strongly on this point.

We again appealed to our minister, as we had frequently done before, and he demanded a speedy conclusion of the case. The vali then sent me word that the case had been decided and the prisoners were convicted.

I asked him to give me a copy of the judgment showing the names of the parties convicted and their punishment. He asked the judge to give me such a copy, but the judge refused to do so, on the ground that I had disclaimed being prosecutor in the case, and said whenever the prosecutor asked for the papers he would give them. I suggested to our minister that he insist upon such a copy being given, but have never learned whether he asked for it or not.

Having been instructed by Minister Terrell not to go to the vali any more, I did nothing during another delay, but heard that the case had been sent to Bagdad to the court of appeals.

I wrote to our consul there, informing him of the fact. This spring, just before leaving Mosul, the vali sent me word that the papers had returned from Bagdad and the decision of the Mosul court had been sustained. He said he would post the names of the convicted parties, with their punishment, on the bulletin board the next day. This was the day I left Mosul. I sent my agent to get the names of the parties, but they had not been posted.

After reaching the coast, I learned that after I left they reopened the case, threw out all previous testimony, and were examining our friends again, threatening and abusing them.

Both natives and my associates in Mosul write me that their evident purpose is to throw the case out. The two who had been held on bail had been released and restored to their positions in the Government in Amadia with back pay, and that the others soon would be released. Minister Terrell’s dispatch says, however, that no one has been released, that the trial has only been postponed for lack of witnesses.

We are greatly puzzled by the second clause in this dispatch. In March I was assured by both vali and judge of Mosul that the case had been closed and the prisoners convicted, and again in April I received a message from the vali telling me that the papers had been returned by the court of appeals in Bagdad, which had reviewed the case and that the higher court had sustained the decision rendered in Mosul. He said further, that the next morning the names of the parties convicted, with their sentences, would be published.

I have with me letters of Judge Terrell, dated February 24 and March 20, 1894, in which he speaks of the case as closed and cautions me as to how to accept the verdict.

In view of the above we are greatly puzzled to know how they can reopen the case. Inasmuch as the commission sent by the vali to Amadia in December, 1893, had every opportunity to examine all witnesses who knew anything about the case, and that those whom they are now examining have already given their testimony several times, we are alarmed at the statement that the postponement is for lack of witnesses.

Inasmuch as the parties most concerned are now in this country and the situation in Mosul seems serious, it has seemed advisable to present the matter directly to the State Department.

E. W. McDowell,
Missionary at Mosul, Turkey.
[Page 698]
[Subinclosure 2 in No. 209.]

Complicity of the Turkish Government with the assailants.

The chief ones implicated were Government officials in Amadia.
The Government in Amadia tried to prevent prosecution of the case by indifference, opposition, trickery, forced testimony.
The judge in Mosul accepted bribes of the prisoners. In substantiation of this—his reputation; rumor and supporting evidence; testimony of vali of Mosul.
He resorted to trickery—serving writ of summons on us for a past date and by false pretenses; insisting upon our appearing as prosecutors and furnishing the evidence in the case; refusing to give copy of judgment against the prisoners after he had informed us that the case was finished; reopening the case after it had once been decided and had been reviewed, with approval, by the higher court in Bagdad.
The vali in Mosul, although at first, under pressure from Constantinople, he had taken hold of the case energetically, afterwards, on hearing that he was deposed, took bribes (substantiation—evidence in Amadia and his own admission that he had received a valuable horse from the family of the chief prisoner); surrendered the case to the judge, although but a few days before he had informed me that this judge was working in the interests of the prisoners and was the chief obstacle to the speedy trial and settlement of the case.
The prosecuting attorney, according to the testimony of the vali, had been bribed by the prisoners and was interfering to prevent their trial and conviction. By the complaint of the vali to the General Government he was transferred.
The vali succeeding the one deposed, although according to representations made to our minister by the General Government he had been sent with special instructions in reference to this case, permitted long and needless delays; made false statements to the effect that the case, was finished when it was not; showed lack of authority or interest in not insisting upon the judge’s giving us a copy of the judgment after having been assured by the judge that the case had been entirely finished; showed lack of authority or interest in permitting the judge to retry the case after he had once given judgment against the prisoners, which judgment had been sustained by the higher court in Bagdad.
E. W. McDowell,
Missionary, of Mosul, Turkey.
[SubInclosure 3 in No. 209.]

Points on building residences in Mosul, Turkey, by American missionaries.

1. Residences are absolutely neeessary for the preservation of the health and lives of American missionaries.

2. The right of foreigners to build residences has been undisputed from of old. The law of Turkey distinguishes between residences and schoolhouses and churches; the former may be built by securing permission from the local authorities, without applying to the General Government for a firman.

3. The French priests in Mosul have been unmolested in building, and were building at the time consent was being withheld from us.

4. The governor of Mosul in personal conversations with the missionaries recognized our right to build residences by permission of the local government only.

5. What has been done toward building:

In 1892 we purchased a piece of ground within the walls of the city of Mosul, but in a vacant tract. (See accompanying diagram1 to show its position in reference to the city.) The ground was bought of three or four different parties who held clear title deeds to the same; their possession of it extends back many years, more than required by law for the outlawing of any claims which might be made against it.

To avoid paying an excessive price for the land, we bought it through and in the name of a native of Mosul, acting as our agent. The deed was made out in his name, but with the understanding between him and us that it should be transferred to our name after the completion of operations. The Government was aware that this man was acting as our agent and had bought the property for us.

We have the original deeds in our possession, also official or final deed from Constantinople, which is a certification that the Government records of Mosul have been examined, and that there were no claims, governmental or private, against the sellers of the land, and that by the transaction of purchase Hassoo (our agent) had become rightful owner of the property.

Since the purchase of the ground we have made improvements on it to the amount of several hundred dollars.

[Page 699]

In 1893 we made application personally to both the mayor of the city and the governor of the province for permission to build upon this ground. (It is still in the name of our agent.) Neither of them interposed any legal objection, but, on the contrary, assured us that the permit would be granted.

6. Opposition to our building.

Soon after the purchase of the ground an under official, a Moslem, intimated to us that his influence was necessary to secure permission to build, and in further conversation with our agent demanded 1,000 Turkish pounds ($4,400) as a gift, for which he promised to give us a building permit. We paid no attention to his overtures or to his threats of preventing our building in case we refused to give him a gift. In consequence this man has created an opposition to us.

(1) He secured a petition from some of the residents of the wards nearest to our property, protesting against our building.

We secured a larger petition from same wards, including the chief men, asking that we be allowed to build.

(2) He advanced the idea that the ground, by reason of its elevation and location, was necessary to the city as a place to locate artillery to repel an attack on the city.

In reference to this—

The idea being advanced in the governor’s council, our interpreter being present, it was treated as a matter of jest by the chief members of the council who had personally examined the situation.
See accompanying diagram showing relation of our property to vital points of the city in evidence that the suggestion is a pretext.
This suggestion was sent by the same party to Constantinople where, in the absence of explanations from us, it may have weight in preventing our building.

(3) Following this, a claim, instigated by said official, has been advanced that this ground belonged originally to the Government and an effort is being made to reclaim it.

We believe, however, that the Government, on the basis of its own laws, can not validate such a claim inasmuch as—

The property has been in the possession of the families selling it sufficiently long to outlaw, according to Turkish law, any such claim.
The Government has for many years been collecting taxes from these families on this property, thus recognizing their ownership of it.
In the transfer of the property to our agent all the legal forms were complied with, which require that the Government records be examined by a Government official to ascertain whether or not there are any claims upon the property by the Government or by private individuals, and no such claims were found. We have in our hands the original deeds, and also deed of transfer to our agent, sent from Constantinople, which is a certification that the title of the seller was good and that the ownership of the buyer is valid.

(4) In February or March an injunction was served on us forbidding us to build.

Later we were informed that general orders had been received from Constantinople forbidding any building by foreigners without special firman from the Sultan. We believe that both the injunction and the general orders were due to a misapprehension of the case in Constantinople in consequence of the false representations made by the official referred to above, and that by a clear presentation of the case to the Government there by Minister Terrell these objections may be shown to be groundless.

My associate in Mosul has, I presume, already forwarded to Mr. Terrell all needed evidence and information for his use in the case.

We make this statement to the State Department in order that it may be available in case of necessity, without the loss of time involved in communicating by post.

E. W. McDowell.
  1. Not printed.