Mr. Terrell to Mr. Gresham.

No. 162.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 111 of January 2, inclosing a communication from Dr. Judson Smith, with its inclosure, a letter from Mr. Barnum, of Harpoot.

The facts stated by Mr. Barnum are not new to me, nor am I ignorant of the importance that Dr. Smith and many others attach to the procuring of the firman for Anatolia College.

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Mr. Barnum is made to say on the first page of his letter: “So the great majority of these chapels are with1 firman.” This must be a clerical error. The truth is that the zealous missionary, in opening places of worship, has pushed his work faster than the laws under which he lives here permit; and the order to close many chapels is in compliance with a law that existed when the chapel was established. I think I shall secure the enforcement of an order, once issued, which requires the authorities to respect chapels long established. Whether, in the face of Moslem prejudices that have been strengthened by the suspicion that missionary work has encouraged sedition, I can now have a general order to protect the new chapels, may admit of doubt.

The trouble is, also, that schools are taught in those chapels and, as you know, while a permit is required to authorize the schools, this legation has regarded this requisition to be in violation of capitulations and treaties. This I think correct, and yet I am at the disadvantage of being alone among foreign diplomats in this view of our rights. The right to teach schools either exists under capitulations or it does not. If it exists, a fearful step backward is taken when it is admitted that a permit must be applied for de novo.

The restrictions upon printed matter are not new; they exist in all despotic governments. The British ambassador was even more horrified than Mr. Barnum at finding that Milton’s and Shakespeare’s works were prohibited. The troubles of book colporteurs and my efforts for their relief are incessant. One Papazoglon I think I have relieved seven times.

As to the claim on the part of the Porte to search private libraries for obnoxious books, if it exists no information has been conveyed to me otherwise than in Mr. Barnum’s letter. I will, however, see if this right is claimed, and if it is, will stop it, I think, without trouble.

I have full knowledge of the suspicion with which “touring work” is regarded by the Turks. It will continue until their suspicion of the missionaries ceases, or indemnity is demanded for losses, etc. For each complaint made by Mr. Barnum I will try to find a remedy, but he must be patient.

I will be pardoned for calling your attention to a fact which greatly increases the complications of this church and school problem here. It is claimed that 40,000 children are being taught in the Ottoman Empire, and that these are under the supervision of some 300 American men and women missionaries. It is easy to see that if this estimate be correct, the missionaries are not doing (for they can not do) the work. Native teachers who are subjects of the Sultan are thus teaching the children of his subjects, but under Christian Supervision. I can not interfere with the policy of the Turkish Government in dealing with schools taught by Turkish subjects (whether Christian or Moslem) except under specific instructions, unless a teacher, present and controlling, is an American citizen.

One can not but admire the disinterested zeal that animates these good men to push their work faster than the slow firmans would sustain them, but this Ottoman Government must be allowed, as a sovereign, some right to regulate its internal policy. When exercised in violation of capitulations and treaties I will be prompt to protest.

Dr. Smith may be assured that while I remain at this post, unceasing vigilance and effort will be used to protect our people in every right secured by capitulations and treaties.

I have, etc.,

A. W. Terrell.
  1. Should be “without.”