Mavroyeni Bey to Mr. Olney.


Mr. SECRETARY OF STATE: The Sublime Porte, desiring to give fresh evidence of its friendship for the United States Government, has decided to accept the inclosed text of a naturalization convention, and has instructed me to request your excellency to take measures to the [Page 930] end that the convention in question may take effect as speedily as possible. Nevertheless, for the prevention of any misunderstanding, I think that it is proper for me to furnish some explanations on this subject.

Your excellency is aware that on the 11th of August, 1874, a draft of a convention was adopted at Constantinople with the representative of the United States, and that the American Senate accepted that instrument, inserting two amendments therein, the first and the principal one of which had reference to article 2. That article, after stipulating that an Ottoman subject who had become an American citizen, or an American citizen who had become an Ottoman subject, should be considered to have renounced his naturalization if he returned to his native country and resided there without the intention to return, added the following:

The intention not to return shall he considered as established when the person has resided for more than two years in the territory of the other [State].

The Senate modified this text and established the rule that the lack of intention to return might be considered as proved by a residence of two years. The second amendment consisted in the suppression of article 3, which provided that Ottoman subjects who had become American citizens, and American citizens who had become Ottoman subjects, who had already resided in their native country for more than two years, should, after the expiration of two years from the date of the exchange of the ratifications of the convention, be considered to have renounced their naturalization.

The text of the convention, thus corrected and ratified, was sent to Constantinople and laid before the imperial ministry by the United States minister. The Sublime Porte, on the eve of its ratification, accepted the two amendments with the proviso that it should be understood that, as regarded the first, the Imperial Government should have the right to consider native Ottoman subjects who had resided in the Empire for more than two years as having renounced their naturalization in the United States. The American Government was to have the same right in the case of its citizens who should return to their native country and remain there for the same length of time. Mr. Boker, then United States minister at Constantinople, accepted this interpretation of article 2, and consequently formally admitted that the Imperial Government would not have ratified the convention until this clause should have been interpreted in the manner aforesaid by the American Government. After this exchange of views, the convention and the additional instrument containing the amendments were sanctioned by an imperial irade, and the exchange of the ratifications took place April 22, 1875. The Department of State, however, as soon as it was informed of Mr. Boker’s acts, disavowed them, declaring that he had been mistaken, and that a sojourn of two years in his native country constituted for a naturalized person not absolute proof, but a presumption which might be overthrown by evidence to the contrary.

The Sublime Porte at first declined to accept this interpretation of article 2. After long negotiations, however, it finally accepted it, an imperial irade sanctioned it on the 27th of December, 1304 (Turkish), and it was communicated to the United States legation January 15, 1889. The time when the convention was to go into operation was made the day on which it should be promulgated by the President of the United States. In the meantime the convention was again submitted to the Senate, but that body, raising a new question, accepted it and recommended the exchange of its ratifications to the President [Page 931] only on condition that article 2 of the convention, as amended by the Senate, should not be construed to apply to persons already naturalized in either country. This suspensive condition was somewhat ambiguous, and necessitated a request for explanation to Mr. Blaine, who, by the note which he addressed to me January 31, 1891, made the following declaration:

The stipulations of this article shall not apply to the citizens or subjects of either country naturalized prior to the date of the exchange of the ratifications, but the effect of the return of such persons to their native country shall be determined according to the rules that existed prior to the exchange of the ratifications.

Thus, according to the explanation furnished by Mr. Blaine, any person who, before the convention has gone into operation, has regularly changed his nationality, according to the provisions of the laws in force, is to retain his new allegiance, even if he returns to his native country and resides there for more than two years. Consequently, the following persons are to be considered citizens of the United States: (1) Ottomans who became naturalized as American citizens prior to 1869, with or without the imperial authorization, for that formality was not then required, and (2) those who have become naturalized as such citizens since that time, for the law concerning nationality now renders that formality indispensable, and the sojourn of such persons in Turkey, however long it may be, can not modify their personal status. As to such Ottomans as renounced their allegiance subsequent to 1869, without having been authorized to do so, it seems to be the logical outcome of Mr. Blaine’s words that such persons are to be considered as Ottomans, for “the rules that existed prior to the exchange of the ratifications,” to which they are subject, are no others than those established by the law of 1869, which prohibits Ottoman subjects from changing their nationality without having been previously authorized to do so by an imperial irade, and which declares that any unauthorized change of nationality is null and void.

I trust that the foregoing explanations will be considered satisfactory. All that the Sublime Porte desires is to reach an understanding with the United States Government to the full extent allowed by the laws of the Empire, with a view to putting a stop to the machinations of certain Ottomans who try to foment difficulties between the two friendly Governments by becoming naturalized as American citizens, not for the purpose of settling in the United States in a permanent and serious manner, but with the firm intention, as soon as they have become naturalized, of returning to Turkey in order to endeavor to carry out their seditious or criminal designs. Such naturalized persons do not, it is true, find any supporters among the members of the American Senate, and the suspensive condition above mentioned can not, of course, have been devised with the view of encouraging and defending them. Therefore the Imperial Government and the American Government and Senate can not fail, for reasons of justice and superior interest, to agree as to the true meaning of this same suspensive condition. Furthermore, in support of the traditional policy of the United States Government in matters connected with naturalization, it seems to me proper to quote here the words uttered by General Grant in his message to Congress of December 6, 1869:

The unsettled political condition of other countries less fortunate than our own sometimes induces their citizens to come to the United States for the sole purpose of becoming naturalized. Having secured this, they return to their native country and reside there without disclosing their change of allegiance. They accept official positions of trust or honor which can only be held by citizens of their native land; they journey under passports describing them as such citizens; and it is only when [Page 932] civil discord, after perhaps years of quiet, threatens their persons or their property, or when their native State drafts them into its military service, that the fact of their change of allegiance is made known. They reside permanently away from the United States, they contribute nothing to its revenues, they avoid the duties of its citizenship, and they only make themselves known by a claim of protection. I have directed the diplomatic and consular officers of the United States to scrutinize carefully all such claims of protection. The citizen of the United States, whether native or adopted, who discharges his duty to his country, is entitled to its complete protection. While I have a voice in the direction of affairs I shall not consent to imperil this sacred right by conferring it upon fictitious or fraudulent claimants.

I am sure that your excellency fully approves the wise words of General Grant, and that, recognizing the earnest desire of the Imperial Government to enforce in practice the principles advocated by these words, you will take suitable measures to put into force with as little delay as possible the naturalization convention concerning which I have just furnished all the explanations that seems to me likely to bring about a final understanding between the two Governments.

Be pleased to accept, etc.,


His Imperial Majesty the Sultan and the United States of America having deemed it proper to make certain amendments to the convention concluded at Constantinople August 11, 1874, concerning naturalization, have, to this end, authorized their undersigned plenipotentiaries to conclude and sign the following amendments:

Article which is to replace Article II of the convention: If a subject of the Sultan, naturalized in the United States, comes to reside in the Ottoman Empire without the intent to return to the United States, he shall be considered to have renounced his naturalization in the United States, and, reciprocally, if an American naturalized in Turkey resumes his residence in the United States without the intention to return to Turkey he shall be held to have renounced his naturalization in Turkey.

The intention not to return may be considered as established when the person naturalized in one of the two countries shall have resided more than two years in the territory of the other.

Article III is suppressed and the numbers of the articles following are changed in consequence.

In faith of which the plenipotentiaries have signed and sealed this present act which constitutes an integral part of the above-mentioned convention.

Done at Constantinople the twenty-second day of April, eighteen hundred and. seventy-five.


Geo.H. Boker.