Mr. Gresham to Mr. Terrell.

No. 137.]

Sir: I have received your dispatch No. 140, of the 17th of December last, reporting an interview with the minister for foreign affairs on the preceding day, in relation to the treatment of naturalized citizens of the United States of Turkish origin when returning to Turkey, and in particular to the case of Garabed Kevorkian, an agent at Marsovan of the Foreign Christian Missionary Society of Cincinnati.

You state that Kevorkian declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States before 1869. In a previous dispatch, No. 80, of October 12, 1893,1 you state that Kevorkian “was naturalized without the consent of the Sultan, long after the Turkish law of 1869, but made his declaration of intention to become a citizen of the United States before that date.” The date of his naturalization, however, is not given. It is desired that you ascertain the facts in regard to his naturalization and communicate them to the Department.

It is, however, to be observed that the Turkish Government, as you report in the dispatch now under consideration, recognized his American citizenship when he returned to Turkey, and that he has since been residing there under that recognition. While this circumstance does not relieve this Government of the duty of informing itself of the facts of his naturalization, it materially affects the action of the Turkish authorities in regard to his arrest and detention.

In the case of Sirope Gurdjian, a citizen of the United States of Turkish origin, who was naturalized in 1874, and who was charged in 1890 with participating in the proceedings of an Armenian revolutionary committee, the seal of which he was alleged to have made, the minister for foreign affairs acknowledged the irregularity of his arrest by the Ottoman authorities without the assistance of a consular representative of the United States, and promised that “the agent guilty of the irregular acts referred to should be punished.” The views of the Department in that case you will find set forth in an instruction, No. 142, of December 22, 1890, to Mr. Hirsch, then our minister at Constantinople. You will observe that the Department, in discussing the question of Mr. Gurdjian’s trial on the charges made against him, then instructed Mr. Hirsch as follows:

If upon further investigation you should be of opinion that the facts presented do not constitute a violation of any specific statutory provision, but that Mr. Gurdjian has been guilty of culpable acts affecting the Ottoman Government, for the punishment of which our legislation is defective, it will be necessary to inform him that the protection of the United States can not be extended so as to enable him to continue his residence in the Ottoman dominions.

In the case of the Armenians lately charged with seditious acts in Turkey, this Government has clearly manifested its purpose not to permit their claim of American citizenship to be invoked as a bar to their expulsion. It is hoped that the Ottoman Government will not be disposed to depart from the course it has heretofore observed and raise other questions that may tend to complicate and embarrass the relations now subsisting between the two countries.

In reading your dispatch, I regret to find that in your conference with the minister for foreign affairs you introduce matters which were hardly pertinent to the object of your interview. The distinctions you [Page 754] drew between the Constitution of the United States and the British constitution were not only unnecessary but inaccurate. Naturalization is neither conferred nor regulated by the Constitution of the United States, nor is it true that in Great Britain “the Queen and not the constitution, is sovereign.” The Department specially regrets your saying to the minister for foreign affairs: “If your excellency believes it would accomplish good, I will go yonder to your Padishah (the Sultan) and tell him that unless he heeds the advice of his ministers, who are trying to save the country from the devil, it will be bad tor Turkey.” The Department does not perceive the precise meaning of your declaration that it would “be bad for Turkey.” But whatever the meaning intended to be conveyed, it is thought that the whole declaration implied a disposition on the part of this Government to adopt an attitude of intervention in Ottoman affairs which it is neither our interest nor our policy to assume.

It is also observed that in your interview with the minister you adverted to a case of alleged indignity on the part of the Ottoman authorities, but that you declined to afford him any particulars until you had investigated the truth of the report. Under the circumstances the reference to the matter, especially in the form in which it was made, appears to have been premature and ill-advised.

I am etc.,

W. Q. Gresham.