Mr. Olney to Mr. Terrell.

No. 1145.]

Sir: I transmit herewith copy of a note addressed to me, under date of the 2d instant, by the Turkish minister at this capital, whereby the Sublime Porte asks that this Government proclaim the treaty of naturalization [Page 934] of August 11, 1874, as amended by the Senate January 22, 1875, in order that it may take effect as speedily as possible. A copy of my reply to Mavroyeni Bey is also annexed.

You are familiar with the general course of the negotiations between this Government and that of Turkey for completing the naturalization treaty of 1874 by renewed exchange of ratifications and promulgations. You will recall that when the ratifications of the original treaty, as amended by the Senate January 22, 1875, were exchanged at Constantinople on April 22, 1875, the protocol of exchange was accompanied by a Turkish memorandum giving to the amended text of Article II an interpretation substantially identical with the original text as signed, namely, that return to and residence for two years in the country of origin should of itself work forfeiture of the citizenship acquired by naturalization; whereas the obvious intent of the Senate amendment was that return to the country of origin, without purpose to resume a residence in the country of naturalization, should be held to be a renunciation of the acquired naturalization, such intention not to return to the adopted country being inferable after two years’ residence in the country of origin. This is the rule of the interpretation in the German and other States with which we have similar stipulations in regard to naturalization.

Mr. Fish treated the exchange of ratification, at Constantinople as invalid, in view of the construction placed upon the amended text of Article II by the Turkish memorandum, and declared that there had been in fact no real exchange of ratifications. The treaty was, in consequence, not proclaimed.

At intervals during the succeeding years negotiations continued to induce Turkey to accept the treaty as amended in 1875, by ratifying it without attaching a nugatory interpretation to the Senate text of Article II. At last Mr. Straus, in his No. 160, of January 16, 1889, reported that he had obtained the sultan’s iradé sanctioning the acceptance of the naturalization treaty as amended by the Senate without any qualifying construction, and annulling all former Turkish interpretation—the treaty to take effect upon its proclamation by the President.

In view of the lapse of fourteen years from the Senate’s ratification of the treaty, the President deemed it proper before proclaiming it to afford that body another opportunity to act upon the matter, and accordingly resubmitted the treaty February 27, 1889.

By its resolution of February 28, 1889, the Senate advised the exchange of ratifications “only upon the distinct understanding to be had between the two Governments that Article II of the convention, as amended by the Senate, shall not be construed to apply to persons already naturalized in either country.”

Not until a year later, by Mr. Blaine’s No. 63, of March 13, 1890, was Mr. Hirsch informed of the Senate’s condition of February 28, 1889, and instructed to bring the matter to the attention of the Sublime Porte, and to ascertain whether it was prepared to assent to that condition.

Mr. Hirsch had several interviews and some correspondence with the Porte upon the subject, and on April 21, 1890, telegraphed to Mr. Blaine:

Condition of Senate to Article II of the naturalization treaty accepted by council of ministers. Submitted to the Sultan for approval.

In this relation you may consult Mr. Hirsch’s dispatches Nos. 110, 116, and 117, of April 11, 21, and 24, 1890.

The necessary iradé of the Sultan was put off from time to time, [Page 935] apparently owing to the representations of the Turkish minister at this capital and his intimation that he might “place the matter before the Senate in such a light as to cause it to recede from its amendment.” (See Mr. Hirsch’s No. 175, of October 29, 1890; also a confidential letter from Mr. Hirsch of the same date, of which a copy1 is annexed hereto for your convenience should no record thereof be found on your files.)

Soon after his return to Washington, Mavroyeni Bey opened correspondence on the subject by inquiring, under date of January 21, 1891, “the exact meaning” of the Senate’s condition of February 28, 1889, and volunteering two interpretations, alike confused and erroneous.

Mr. Blaine replied, January 31, 1891, that—

the second article of the treaty relates to the renunciation of naturalization. As the Department understands the resolution of the Senate, it means that the provisions of that article shall not apply to citizens or subjects of either country naturalized prior to the date of the exchange of ratifications, but that 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 ratifications.

Mavroyeni Bey replied, February 1, 1891, that as Turkey claimed the right to treat as Turks subjects naturalized abroad without consent since January 1, 1869, the foregoing interpretation implied that Turks naturalized in the United States before the exchange of ratifications were not to be deemed naturalized Americans, and asked for further enlightenment.

No answer was made to Mavroyeni Bey’s last note, but by an instruction, No. 179, of March 27, 1891, Mr. Hirsch was acquainted with the incident and furnished copies of the correspondence, and he was directed to point out to the Porte the entire misconception of the matter by its minister in this capital. In his No. 310, of June 13, 1891, Mr. Hirsch reported his endeavors to make Mavroyeni’s misconceptions clear, but added that as the Porte was then making inquiries of various European governments concerning their naturalization treaties with the United States, no definite answer might be expected until the needed information was obtained.

The situation has thus remained until now. An examination of Mavroyeni Bey’s present note of October 2 shows a substantial reaffirmation and enlargement of the view presented in his note of February 1, 1891. I therefore pointed out tq the minister that he has again advanced that view in the note now under consideration, notwithstanding its complete misapprehension of Mr. Blaine’s obvious meaning and its entire antagonism both to the letter and to the spirit of the Senate resolution of February 28, 1889. I pointed out that as matters now stand no such distinct understanding between the two Governments has been reached as is contemplated by the Senate resolution and as is necessary to justify the President in completing the treaty by valid exchange and proclamation. I added that, in view of the peculiar circumstances, of the various conflicting constructions of the Senate resolution, and especially of the length of time that has elapsed since the convention was last before the Senate, the first step in the direction desired must obviously be to bring the convention again before that body for its consideration, in the expectation that the Senate may so amend its resolution that no possible question can be raised as to its true purpose and meaning.

The situation appears to invite comments for your guidance in such further conduct of the negotiation as may be necessary at Constantinople.

[Page 936]

Although I do not fail to observe the preliminary suggestions of Mavroyeni Bey’s note—that the instructions of the Sublime Porte upon the matter in hand originate in its desire “to give fresh evidence of its friendship for the United States Government”—the real interest and object of the Ottoman Government in the immediate consummation of the convention in question are too plain to be disguised. They sufficiently appear, indeed, in the subsequent passages of the note itself, and especially in the following sentence:

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 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.

The same interest or object is evinced by the recent imperial iradé, the substance of which you telegraphed on the 10th instant, prohibiting Armenian subjects from returning to Turkey under foreign passports, and forbidding a residence in Turkey of any who have emigrated during the last twenty years. The claim to disregard the effect of a foreign passport is but another manifestation of the contention in Mavroyeni’s note of October 2.

The exact truth, therefore, is that appeal is now made to this Government to perfect an inchoate treaty, the operations of whose provisions the Turkish Government perceives would, under present conditions, be greatly to its advantage, with attempt to make the rights and claims of Turkey in the premises still more advantageous by an ex parte interpretation. Turkey makes this appeal fully conscious that it is dealing with a friendly power, and rightly so. The United States is in no wise unfriendly to Turkey, and in many ways and on many occasions has proved that it is not. It has no selfish designs upon the peace or integrity of Turkey, is not a party to any schemes for the partition of its territory or the impairment of its sovereignty, and proposes no participation in Turkish affairs, except so far as the protection of the property, the lives, and the rights of its citizens imperatively requires.

But while such is the attitude of this Government toward the Turkish Empire, it seems to be open to serious doubt whether that attitude is appreciated and whether the disinterested and amicable sentiments inspiring it are reciprocated. If such were the case, the application of this Government for the payment of a reasonable pecuniary indemnity on account of property of its citizens destroyed by mob violence with the connivance and active participation of Turkish soldiers and officials would not be treated with indifference, nor be evaded, nor be postponed for reasons that are palpably but mere pretexts. If such were the case, there would be no hesitation in welcoming the presence of a United States dispatch boat at Constantinople, as merely putting the United States on the footing of other great powers to no possible prejudice of the power or prestige of the Turkish Government, as tending to allay the just fears and apprehensions of resident American citizens, and as simply adding to the resources upon which the Turkish Government might rely for the repression of the excesses of a lawless and fanatical populace. In these flagrant instances, as well as others of a less important character, which I need not now stop to enumerate, the United States believes it has just cause to complain of the course of the Ottoman Government and of the spirit which seems to animate it. And it is not inopportune to remark that a decided change of conduct [Page 937] and bearing as respects our Government and citizens would go far to secure from the Senate of the United States that favorable reconsideration of the proposed convention between the two countries which is absolutely essential if the present wishes of the Turkish Government are to be gratified.

It is desired that you shall temperately, but earnestly and clearly, make these views known in the proper quarter, in the hope that upon the assembling of the Senate in December next the matter may be laid before that body, in conformity with the President’s constitutional prerogative to consult the coordinate treaty-making power upon occasion, with favorable considerations tending to bring about a prompt and satisfactory conclusion.

I am, etc.,

Richard Olney.
  1. Not printed.