Mr. Uhl to Mavroyeni Bey.

No. 17.]

Sir: Circumstances have interfered to prevent an earlier acknowledgment of your note of April 30 last, in regard to the visit of the ships of the Mediterranean squadron to the Turkish ports of the Levant.

In that note you announce the view of His Excellency Said Pasha, that this visit “can naturally only be considered by the Sublime Porte in the same light as those which the ships of war of the other Powers are in the habit of making annually to Ottoman ports,” and communicate his excellency’s further declaration that the security of American citizens in the Turkish dominions is not threatened.

I do not understand that the position of the United States naval vessels in Turkish waters is to be defined by the especial relations or functions of ships of war of European Powers under their existing treaty obligations with regard to Turkish affairs. Abstaining from intermixture in the internal matters of other states, this Government employs its naval agencies abroad only for keeping up the usual courtesies of friendly intercourse and for the protection of American citizens and American interests in other countries. Performance of this latter function is alike the right and duty of every sovereign state. The state so acting can alone be the judge of the occasion therefor, and may not be called upon to account for the course it may consider wise or necessary.

In this relation it is proper for me to recur to that part of your prior note, of April 7 last, in which you asked to be informed whether the American naval authorities had been instructed to confer with the diplomatic and consular authorities touching matters which you deem to be “within the exclusive province of the latter.”

I can not suppose you thereby intended to question the right of this Government to use its several agencies in its own discretion for the purpose of gaining information or carrying out its determined policies, and I assume you bad in view merely the performance of the usual formalities of international representation. Our naval commanders, carrying neither diplomatic credentials nor consular commissions, discharge no representative duty save in conformity with the ordinary etiquette of the naval intercourse of nations. This mission, I am pleased to learn, has been fulfilled with friendly cordiality by Admiral Kirkland and his commanders, consistently with the instructions given to them as stated in my note to you, No. 10, of April 8, 1895,

Accept, etc.,

Edwin F. Uhl,
Acting Secretary.