Mr. Terrell to Mr. Gresham.

No. 283.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that after receiving the telegram referred to in my No. 277,1 of the 1st instant, announcing the absence of Seferiades from Smyrna, I received a letter from him, which announced the settlement of his difficulties with the kindred of the boy who was killed and which shows his anxiety to know how far he can be protected. His letter is inclosed herewith.

I have been unavoidably delayed in going to Smyrna, but deemed it both prudent and necessary to visit the Sublime Porte before answering the letter.

[Page 736]

Being of Greek ancestry, through an Ottoman subject by birth, the agreement with the Porte that naturalized citizens of the United States who were by birth Armenians might be excluded when they return, on account of their revolutionary societies in America, does not apply in his case. No seditious societies are known to exist among the Greeks.

I append a brief memorandum of my interviews with Said Pasha, minister of foreign affairs, and the grand vizier, from which it appears:

  • First. That a naturalized citizen of the United States of Greek descent will, if born in the Ottoman Empire, be subject to exclusion or expulsion from Turkey on his return if he was naturalized since 1869 without the Sultan’s consent.
  • Second. The right claimed to expel for the offense of obtaining foreign citizenship without the Sultan’s consent will be applied less rigidly to one of Greek descent than to an Armenian, so long as those of the former class abstain from disloyal practices.

The “right of expatriation” would seem to be a misnomer, if the right exists in any government to punish an American citizen for having exercised it.

For the present my verbal agreement with the Porte limits the punishment of natives of Turkey who return after naturalization to exclusion or expulsion from Turkey, even when suspected of disloyalty or sedition, as you were informed in my No. 107, of November 18, 1893. But I am for the first time informed that our naturalization of an Ottoman subject, no matter of what race, is an offense in itself, for which the Porte claims the right to punish the man who has been naturalized.

I am making a compilation of the laws of all European nations which affect the status of their naturalized subjects of Turkish origin after their return to Turkey; this I will forward to you.

I have, etc.,

A. W. Terrell.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 283.]

Memorandum of interview with Turkish minister of foreign affairs.

In a conversation at the Sublime Porte with Saїd Pasha, foreign minister, on August 7, I inquired whether his Government had ever claimed the right to punish Ottoman natives of Greek origin who were naturalized by the United States, after emigrating there without the Sultan’s consent, and who returned to Turkey. He answered that it was impossible for Turkey to discriminate in favor of any class of her subjects. All subjected themselves to punishment who attempted to transfer their allegiance without the Sultan’s permission.

I reminded him that the consent of my Government had been given for the expulsion of naturalized citizens of Armenian origin, not because they had been naturalized in the United States without the Sultan’s consent, but because the Turkish Government regarded them with suspicion as dangerous and seditious.

I informed him that his doctrine of perpetual allegiance and our belief in the right of expatriation should be in some way harmonized by treaty, for our disagreement was a standing menace to cordial relations, and this applied with equal force to our disagreement about Article iv of the treaty of 1830. Here he expressed himself as quite agreeing with me and asked if I would answer his note of January 23, 1894, relating to Article iv and explaining his construction. I explained [Page 737] that I had submitted it to my Government. Here he said, “It is impossible for us ever to agree that an Ottoman subject can transfer his allegiance unless the Sultan permits it, and it is also impossible that we can ever agree to your construction of Article iv. Once a clerk of our Government embezzled 50,000 piasters. We arrested him, ignorant that your country had naturalized him. Your consul claimed the right to try him; we could not consent, and the thief went unpunished.”

Other matters were referred to which I may deem proper to mention in another dispatch.

A. W. Terrell.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 283.]

Memorandum of interview with the grand vizier.

In an interview with the grand vizier on the 7th instant he claimed for Turkey the right to punish, by expulsion or exclusion from the Ottoman Empire, any of its natives who, after being naturalized by another Government without the Sultan’s consent, returned or attempted to return. He recognized the verbal agreement formerly made with me, which limits his powers over such parties to expulsion or exclusion, but claimed the right to inflict this punishment for the offense of being naturalized without the consent of the Sultan. He stated that Greeks naturalized without such consent, and returning would be treated with more indulgence than native Armenians thus naturalized, so long as that race of men abstained from sedition. After answering him substantially as stated in my memorandum of conversation with Said Pasha, he wished to know if any case had arisen that had caused me to interrogate him.

I then frankly told him of the case of Socrates Seferiades, he agreeing to hear of it unofficially and not to make it the subject of a communication to the local governor. I frankly told him that I did not yet know whether I should claim him as a citizen of the United States, but the man was a farmer who, with improved machinery, would benefit the country, and his very employment was the best guaranty that he was law abiding, so that, whether Ottoman subject or American citizen, he should be encouraged rather than punished. To this he assented, and the man will not be disturbed so long as he is not disturbed by the local authorities.

A. W. Terrell.
[Inclosure 3 in No. 283.]

Mr. Seferiades to Mr. Terrell.

Sir: You will find inclosed herein two letters of introduction, which I wished to show you immediately after my return from America. I could not do it at that time, and a little later you had left Constantinople. I regret that I send you these letters under circumstances so disagreeable for me, hoping that you will be kind enough to give them a favorable end, and I feel flattered, hoping that you will grant me your valuable protection.

[Page 738]

It has been written me from the Department of State at Washington, D. C., that instructions were given about my affair, of which you have heard, no doubt, for three months have passed since the sad but accidental event which still keeps me away from my business and interests. At first I asked the protection of the United States consul in Smyrna, Mr. James H. Madden, a gentleman of great civility and devotion to duty, who, indeed, does honor to the position he occupies.

From the petition which I first gave to Mr. Madden you doubtless know that on my return from America I had brought several agricultural machines. After that unforeseen event I was obliged to leave them by the banks of the Meander River, exposed to the changes of the weather and the mischievousness of ignorant peasants of the district. Besides I was requested by the authorities there, of Nazili, to have this question of my citizenship settled. This affair, however, so long protracted, has caused me much loss, and will continue to do so, for the machines can not be used any more this season, after I make so many preparations and so many expenses to get them there. This delay and second long absence from the place whence I had so long before been away, and where such great interests of mine demand my being there, will not only cause me a heavy loss, but, if a little more protracted, will ruin me.

There is no other question now but that of my citizenship, because I have settled everything in money with the Jewish boy’s father, having, gotten a regular receipt, signed by the father, mother, and grandfather of the child and some other witnesses, saying that they will refrain from any lawsuit. They thus recognize that the event was totally accidental, and was the result of the boy’s own carelessness, and say that no one else is responsible for the accident.

I will send you a copy of this receipt and one also to Mr. Madden. I beg of you to do all you can in my behalf, giving me thus your valuable protection; that orders be given to the examining magistrate of Nazili that he may postpone his demands for the time being, at least, and let me regulate my business there. I have to take and keep my machine in a safe place and attend to my other interests, which day by day are getting more and more hurt. This delay, I beg will be granted until the question of my citizenship is finally settled. For in connection with the accident with the Jewish boy, I am always ready to follow your orders, and be wherever you might consider good to show me, just as I mentioned this in my first petition to Consul J. H. Madden.

Hoping that you have already considered and given favorable reports about my case, and this will be the object of your immediate interest and attention.

I remain, etc.,

S. A. Seferiades.
  1. Not printed.