Mr. Terrell to Mr.
Legation of the United States,
Legation of the United States, September 11, 1894. (Received September
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that I have
received from the grand vizier, through his secretary, a verbal message,
notifying me of the arrest of native teachers in the American schools at
Aintab and Marash as suspected of being seditious. The verbal message
having been reduced to writing, a copy is inclosed.
I thereupon telegraphed you on the 8th instant, after an interview with
the grand vizier, that no search would be made of the schools in the
absence of a consul; that the missionaries feared a systematic effort to
destroy in this way the missionary schools, and that I would send Mr.
Riddle to Aintab if necessary. A copy of this telegram is inclosed.
I learn from Dr. H. O. Dwight that only two of the accused parties
(Bezdjian and Levonian) are in fact connected with American schools, and
that both of them are Ottoman subjects, though the former is a graduate
of Yale College.
These arrests, made at a time when there is no armed sedition in Asia
Minor, and coupled with the earnest regret expressed to me by the grand
vizier that Armenian teachers are employed in the American schools, are
suggestive of the methods adopted to destroy the college at Marsovan.
Certainly no more effective method could be devised by [Page 741] them than to arrest the native
Armenian teachers if they desire the destruction of missionary
I find neither in treaties nor capitulations any formal rule by which I
can interpose as matter of right to prevent the capricious arrest and
imprisonment of Turkish subjects employed by American teachers. And yet
when much money has been expended and houses built, after the Turks have
for years permitted the employment of natives as teachers, justice would
seem to require that I should have some right to prevent the destruction
of American interests by their being capriciously arrested and
imprisoned. To permit it would mean the departure of the missionaries
from Turkey and the sacrifice of property values. I have, therefore,
informed the Porte, in effect, that I claimed the right to be informed
of the facts on which arrests of native teachers in American schools are
based, and to judge if a prima facie case of guilt is established before
bail can be refused. A copy of my note is inclosed for your information.
I will not press this claim beyond the bounds of prudence at present,
but await your instructions. * * *
Dr. Dwight, the chief representative here of missionary interests,
insists that Article iii of the treaty of 1830
vests in me the right to protect all Turkish subjects who are employed
by Americans as teachers, and that an opinion of Caleb Cushing once
given sustains him. * * *
My failure to assume some right to protect the native and recently (since
1869) naturalized American teachers in missionary schools would mean, in
my opinion, the speedy arrest and prosecution or expulsion of that
class. This the missionary leaders assert would destroy missionary work
* * * * * * *
A letter has been received from Dr. Dwight, of the Bible House here,
asking me to intervene and demand as a right that no Turkish employé in
an American school should be arrested except with my consent or that of
a consul. His letter and my answer are inclosed for your
While I write, your telegram acknowledging receipt of my own concerning
Marash and Aintab arrests of Turkish subjects employed by missionaries
has been received. * * *
I have, etc.,
[Inclosure 1 in No.
Verbal message from the grand
The governor of Djebel-Bereket informs me that in consequence of the
seditious papers discovered in the house of a Vasloumian in the
village of Hakkiar, in the circuit of Hassa, who is known as being a
member of the Armenian revolutionary committee, Serkis Levonian,
domiciled in the quarter Cassalmaz at Aintab; Agob Bulbulian,
religious president of the College of Aintab; and Hampartzoun
Elmadjian, domiciliated at Aintab, and Alexan Bezdjian, chief
teacher of the said college; and at Marash, Baron Simbat Caprelian,
of Zeitoun, being implicated in the matter, they have been summoned
and were taken under escort to Djebel-Bereket, and searches for
compromising papers have been ordered. The vali of Adana has
demanded also for the details of this matter.
It is true that these people are Ottoman subjects, but as the college
is placed under American supervision the vali asks the grand vizier
as to the procedure toward those who belong to that college.
[Inclosure 2 in No.
Mr. Terrell to
the grand vizier.
Legation of the United States,
Legation of the United
States, September 10,
Your Highness: I have the honor to inform
your highness that the teachers employed in the colleges at Aintab
and Marash, whom you named in my last interview with your highness,
have been for a long time employed as teachers in those American
schools with the knowledge and consent of the Ottoman authorities.
Their presence is necessary to the success of educational work in
the colleges where they are employed, and no matter what may be
their nationality their arrest can only be justified when a prima
facie case of guilt is shown. Any other rule would destroy the
schools and be opposed to justice. I therefore ask that the evidence
on which they are arrested shall be submitted to me, that I may
judge if there is a case of prima facie crime.
I ask a teskereh for Mr. Riddle to go to these schools and to any
other point the business may require, that he may examine the
compromising facts discovered and report to me by telegraph.
I also ask that if there are no facts discovered and the arrest of
the professors rests on suspicion only, that they be released on
sufficient bail to pursue their teaching in the schools until they
can be tried. Receive, etc.,
[Inclosure 3 in No.
Mr. Dwight to
Constantinople, September 6, 1894.
Dear Sir: In view of the reported arrest of
professors connected with the educational institutions of the
American board at Aintab and Marash, I am asked by my associates of
the American mission to beg your consideration of the following
The arrests made in different parts of the Ottoman Empire during the
past two years of individuals charged with sedition have been based,
in a great number of cases, upon the merest suspicion, often upon
personal grudge or prejudice, and sometimes upon the desire for gain
on the part of petty officials.
The searches of houses made in this connection have been made very
frequently in the hope of chancing to find something which may be
twisted into a justification of the act. Moreover such searches are
made to excuse for seizing all books, all letters, all written or
printed matter of any kind which may be found in the house. These
are carried off and rarely returned to the owners. As a result of
such searches in numbers of cases, men against whom no other ground
of charge could be found have been charged with treasonable
conspiracy on the ground of the possession of books freely allowed
circulation in the past and acquired at that time, or on the ground
of passages in letters, dated [Page 743] years ago, criticising the action of officials of
the Government, when such criticism was the privilege of every
law-abiding subject of the Sultan, and when it has no possible
connection with conspiracy of any kind.
The sentences passed upon persons charged with sedition in the same
time have been passed in a considerable number of cases without
evidence which would justify even the holding of the victim for
trial in England or America.
These facts are too common and too widely known to leave any
necessity for going into details in this place. In fact a condition
of administration exists in this Empire from which it is the object
of the capitulations to protect foreigners residing in Turkey. The
ordinary search of Turkish administration, if not restrained by the
capitulations, can, at any moment, break up our lawful business by
causelessly imprisoning Ottoman subjects whom we employ in that
business, or may place our good name and reputation or even our
lives in jeopardy by the act of arbitrarily rummaging our houses,
ignorantly stigmatizing as treasonable books which are the standards
of our literature, newspapers and periodicals which are the usual
current records of the affairs of our native country, and private
writings which the Turk can not understand, but which have no public
importance whatever. So, too, in regard to our business. Our schools
among the Armenians are under Government control; they are molded by
the Ottoman authorities both as to course of study and as to
text-books used. But, as you are aware, there are those who wish to
restrict or obliterate education among the Armenian subjects of the
Sultan. Such prejudiced officials may, at any moment, break up our
schools if they may arrest arbitrarily and without responsibility
Ottoman subjects whom we employ as teachers. Only the capitulations,
as hitherto enforced, can prevent the entire destruction of our
large property interests and investments in Turkey, through the
action of petty officials applying to us the highhanded measures
which they daily apply to Ottoman subjects.
We therefore beg you to come to our defense under the article of the
capitulations and of the treaty of 1830, which declares that
Americans may employ, unmolested, as agents in their business,
Ottoman subjects, and the articles which protect American domicile
from the intrusion of Turkish officials except under certain clearly
restricted conditions. In a word, we ask you, as is provided in both
these cases by the treaties, to insist that the action of Turkish
officials be subjected to the approval of the competent American
officers before that action is carried out.
We ask especially that you will consider the propriety of doing this
in the case of the American college at Aintab and the seminaries of
the American mission at Marash, to wit:
- That in order that the interests of our business may not
needlessly suffer, the Porte be requested to release, on
bail, if need be, any teachers of either institution who may
have been arrested, until the evidence on which the arrest
is proposed shall have been submitted to you and shall have
convinced you that there is presumptive justification for
- That the Porte be informed that no search of American
domicile will be tolerated except under the conditions of
the treaty, namely: That the search be for evidence of a
definite act, described in writing, of arson, murder,
counterfeiting, house-breaking, or armed insurrection, etc.,
as stipulated by the protocol.
- In case the Porte insists that a definite act has been
committed of one of the crimes named, for evidence of which
it is necessary to search an American domicile in either of
these places, that yon will cause one of the staff of the
consulate or the legation to proceed to the spot in order to
prevent violations of right during the search, such as the
seizure of property that can have no bearing upon the
alleged crime. You are aware that the only American consular
agents in that region are not sufficiently acquainted with
the English language to judge the contents of English books
Believing that in this we shall have a new occasion to thank you for
efficient defense of American interests, I remain, on behalf of the
Missionaries of the American Board,
[Inclosure 4 in No.
Mr. Terrell to
Legation of the United States,
Legation of the United
States, September 10,
My Dear Sir: Answering your letter of
September 6, instant, I have to inform you that no search of
American schools for compromising documents will be made until I am
informed, and a consul or Mr. Riddle or myself will be present; such
is the assurance of the grand vizier.
Also that I have requested that, without reference to the nationality
of teachers who, with the consent of the Turkish Government, are
employed in American schools, that no imprisonment without bail
shall be made until after I (or a consul) can know the charge and
the compromising facts, to see if a case of prima facie guilt has
For this position there is no treaty or international law but much
equity, for under a different rule every American school could be
destroyed by capricious arrests.
The question thus involved is far-reaching in its results, for the
prejudice against American schools is such that the temptation to
arrest Armenian teachers who are Turkish subjects in American
schools, and to arrest them capriciously, is always present to the
Turk. If it is submitted to without protest, educational work by
American schools in Asia Minor would be restricted to narrow
I remain, etc.,