Mr. Angell to Mr. Sherman.
Constantinople, December 8, 1897.
Sir: On September 10 last I received, through the consul-general, a complaint from Consul Wallace, at Jerusalem, that the local authorities had refused the request of an American citizen, Simon Ben Nachman Lowenstein, for permission to buy a house and lot in that city. The reason given for the refusal was that, the applicant was a Jew, and that an order of the Sublime Porte forbade Jews to become landholders until they had been long resident in Turkey, and that Mr. Lowenstein had not been long in the country.
I at once called on the secretary for foreign affairs and informed him that our Government could not recognize discrimination in the treatment of American citizens on the ground of religious belief or connection. I reminded him that a regulation could not override a treaty, as this order did violate the protocol of 1874. He said the order had been framed in consequence of the supposed danger of an inundation of Jews, who might cause serious political difficulties at Jerusalem. But he promised to give early attention to my request in behalf of Mr. Lowenstein, and asked me to furnish a memorandum for him. I inclose a copy of my memorandum.
Though the dragoman has under my instructions repeatedly called up the case, it is only now that the grand vizier has taken action. Yesterday he promised to send an order at once to the vali at Jerusalem to permit Mr. Lowenstein to make his purchase. He said that the order was aimed at Russian Jews, who, it was feared, might come in great numbers, and was not intended to apply to Americans.
I have, etc.,