Mr. Terrell to Mr. Gresham.
Legation of the United States, November 15, 1893. (Received Dec. 1.)
Sir: My attention has been directed by the inclosed letter (copy) from Dr. Dwight and others, to a notice in the Oriental Advertiser of this city, a copy of which is inclosed, and which gives notice that the Porte will require that all conveyances of land to foreign subjects shall hereafter contain a clause prohibiting the use of the property for schools or religious worship.
In a conversation yesterday with His Excellency Saїd Pasha, he did not deny the truth of the published notice, but stated that the order referred to therein was, to some extent, the subject of consideration still in the council of ministers. * * *
The letter from the American teachers and missionaries urges (1) that the order referred to imposes on the enjoyment of the right to acquire real estate a condition not found in the protocol (of 1874); (2) that it is opposed to the principle of extraterritoriality secured by capitulations; (3) that it imposes a penalty on the right to pursue a lawful calling; (4) that it places a stigma of illegality on the act of divine worship.
The order is far-reaching in its possible consequences, and if one of the great powers would, through its ambassador, agree to act in protesting, I would assume the responsibility of insisting on the withdrawal of the order. I deem it proper now to content myself with sending a written notice to the Porte that I will reserve the right to [Page 703] protest hereafter, should I desire to do so, and await your instructions. * * * Before you instruct me, I desire (under favor) to submit, with proper deference, for your consideration the following:
The order appears to me as being in plain violation of the provisions of article 1 of the imperial rescript of June 10. 1867, viz:
Art. 1. Foreigners are admitted by the same privileges as Ottoman subjects, and without any other restriction, to enjoy the rights of holding real estate whether in the city or the country throughout the Empire, etc.
The order subjects the foreigner in the acquisition of land to conditions not required to be inserted in a deed to a native; and if the above were the only provision affecting the question the illegality of the order would be too plain for question. But the first subdivision of article 2 of the rescript of 1867 is as follows:
The legal effect of this equality is first to oblige them (foreigners) to conform to all the laws and regulations of the police, or of the municipality which govern at present, or which may hereafter govern the enjoyment, the transmission, the alienation and hypothecation of landed property.
On this clause the Porte, no doubt, relies; and yet it would seem plain that a requirement that a foreigner shall “conform” to all “regulations * * * of the * * * municipality which * * * may hereafter govern the * * * alienation * * * of landed property” can not be held to authorize a local governor to impose a condition in a deed to a foreigner, which is not required in a deed to a native, and thus render nugatory the very law which declared his equality of right. No law requires the clause complained of to be inserted in a deed to a Turk.
The firman and hatti-sherif, relative to privileges and reforms of 1856, and which is referred to in the treaty of peace signed at Paris soon afterward, is instructive in the provisions of its ninth article, for (1) it confirms all existing privileges enjoyed by Christian communities; (2) it requires the Sublime Porte to take energetic measures to insure to each religious sect, whatever be the number of its adherents, entire freedom in the exercise of its religion; (3) it declares that all forms of religion maybe freely professed, “and no subject * * * shall be hindered in the exercise of the religion that he professes, nor shall he be in any way annoyed on that account;” (4) it authorizes every community to establish public schools of science, art, and industry.
These extracts sufficiently show the intention to grant perfect freedom from Mahommedan restraint in the worship of Christians. You will remember also, that by the sixty-second article of the treaty of Berlin, it was expressly declared that the freedom and exercise of all forms of religion was assured to all, and that no hindrance should be offered, etc.
* * * * * * *
I have, etc.,