The Secretary of State to Chargé Jay.
Washington , February 7, 1905 .
Sir: The Department has received your No. 969, of the 5th ultimo, reporting the receipt by your legation and the British embassy at Constantinople of a note identique from the Turkish minister for foreign affairs announcing the prohibition of the colportage of Bibles and other religious books on account of the alleged revolutionary propaganda carried on by the colporteurs.
You suggest that this government, in conjunction with that of Great Britain, consent tacitly to the temporary prohibition of the colportage throughout the seriously disturbed districts, but add that you have protested to the minister for foreign affairs against the general prohibition being put into force.
You state that the agent of the American Bible Society in the Levant has asked you to demand an indemnity for the books already seized, and to instruct the colporteurs, who are Ottoman subjects, to continue the distribution of the books though they have been forbidden by the local authorities to proceed with their work under pain of imprisonment.
The Department approves the views expressed in your dispatch, but you will not demand an indemnity unless the Department should hereafter instruct you to do so. The Department could not undertake to extend protection to colporteurs who are Ottoman subjects.
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I am, etc.,