Minister Pearson to the Secretary of State.

No. 113.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose copies of further correspondence bearing on the Labaree case, and I wish to direct special attention to the following statements in a letter addressed to me by Dr. J. P. Cochran and dated March 22, 1905. Doctor Cochran is considered the leading spirit among the missionaries at Urumia. He says:

There never was a time in the history of this mission when we were in so great and constant danger as at the present. To hold in Teheran two or three of those (Kurds) who have fallen into the net or even to execute them is exasperating their comrades here to a most dangerous degree.

I fail entirely to grasp the logic of this conclusion. The chief murderer and five of his most prominent accomplices are incarcerated here, and their clansmen in Urumia have been made to understand that the lives of these prisoners are dependent upon the good behavior of the Kurdish tribes in Urumia. In the light of common sense and of the common principles of human nature this condition would seem to be a guaranty of security rather than a cause of danger to the Christians in Urumia. I deem it prudent not to press for the final punishment of these criminals until at least two others of the ringleaders shall have been captured, and until the excited mental state of the Christian population shall have resumed its normal calm. But as my views are so radically different from those of Doctor Cochran and his associates, I feel obliged to ask for further and specific instructions as to the particular steps that I should take in the premises. I can readily understand the complaints of the missionaries and their protests against steps which they have opposed; but how and why they should complain of steps which they have urgently advised and which after long and arduous efforts this legation has finally accomplished I fail utterly to comprehend.

The correspondence in this case shows that the missionaries asked for the removal of the governor of the province of Urumia. That has been done and a man of energy and courage has been put in his place.

They asked for the removal of the mudjtabad—the chief Moslem ecclesiastic of Urumia—represented as the instigator, the head and front of all the troubles, and after a year’s persistent and urgent demands by the American and British ministers this * * * Moslem bishop has been removed.

The missionaries asked for the arrest of the murderer and his accomplices. All except two of the chief participants in the crime are now in jail at Teheran. Seven of the men implicated are servants, and a Persian servant has no independence or sense of personal responsibility; and I have repeatedly impressed upon the Persian Government that we desired the punishment of the guilty masters rather than of the ignorant servants.

The correspondence further shows that the missionaries asked me to protest to the Persian Government against the presence in Urumia of Madjd-es-Sultaneh, the agent sent from Tabriz to capture the accomplices. I declined to comply with this request, and it turned out that this Madjd-es-Sultaneh, instead of being a man of “evil influence,” was successful in entrapping by various ruses the most prominent and influential chiefs among the guilty Kurds.

[Page 729]

Finally, I was asked to obtain the revocation or postponement of the order removing the Moslem bishop; this I declined to do for the reasons set forth in my letter to the British minister.

After working for a year to secure the removal of this bad Mullah, I was unwilling when success was in sight suddenly to reverse my steps and stultify my previous representations.

From all this the Department will see the necessity of giving me positive and precise instructions which I shall not fail to execute with promptness and energy.

I am, etc.,

Richmond Pearson.
[Inclosure 1.]

The British Minister to Minister Pearson.

Dear Mr. Pearson: I inclose to you herewith a copy of a telegram I have just received rrom Mr. Stevens at Tabriz, together with the reply which I would propose to send if you should approve.

Believe, etc.,

Arthur H. Hardinge.

Mr. Stevens to the British Minister.

At last audience granted by the Valialed detailed in my dispatch of February 1, prince promised United States consul and myself to arrest remainder of Kurds implicated in murder. I pointed out to his highness that Mullah was still at Urumia, and that no measures had been taken to remove him, notwithstanding positive promise and engagement to do so. His imperial highness said that question was a difficult one to deal with, but that he would send me his final decision on the subject in a few days.

At an unofficial gathering at the Karguzari the Shah’s envoy told the United States consul that if the removal of the Mullah were postponed remaining Kurd accomplices in murder would be immediately arrested.

We both respectfully request your excellency’s approval of above compromise.


Proposed answer to Mr. Stevens (by British Minister), February, 1905.

I approve compromise proposed by you, but I am strongly of opinion that removal of Mullah if postponed should not be shirked, and that he should if possible leave before Moharren.

[Inclosure 2.]

Minister Pearson to the British Minister.

My Dear Sir: I have just received your note inclosing a telegram from His Britanic Majesty’s Consul Stevens and a draft of the reply which you would send “if I should approve.”

This is very courteous on your part, but I can not presume to approve or disapprove the instructions which you deem expedient to send to your consul.

However, we have been so closely associated with such unreserved mutual confidence in the conduct of this case that I feel warranted in saying that while I joined in demanding the removal of this Mullah the definite promise to remove him is due to your own energetic and efficient action.

This man has been represented by your people and mine as the head and front of all the offending.

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To relinquish or defer the advantage which you have gained in this regard without any correlative benefit, it seems to me is to accept a new promise instead of the one outstanding without the payment of interest and without additional security.

Faithfully, yours,

Richmond Pearson.
[Inclosure 3.]

Minister Pearson to Doctor Cochran.

Dear Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of March 22. I note that you say: “To hold in Teheran two or three of those who have fallen in the net or even to execute them is exasperating their comrades here to a most dangerous degree.”

I fail to see the logic of your conclusion or the process by which you arrive at it. On the contrary the tribe knows that the lives of their comrades imprisoned at Teheran depend upon the good behavior of the Kurds in Urumia. It would seem that this fact, coupled with the removal of the mudjtabad and the energetic action of the new governor, should diminish rather than increase your sense of danger.

If your reasoning be correct it would lead to the conclusion that you would feel a greater sense of security if these culprits were released and allowed to go scot-free.

In any event it would be better for you and your associates to formulate in specific terms your demands upon the American Government.

Yours, truly,

Richmond Pearson.
[Inclosure 5.]

Extracts from a letter of the Rev. B. Labaree, of Urumia, dated March 23, 1905.

In my relation of father-in-law to Mrs. Labaree I have naturally seen the correspondence which has passed between yourself and her, and I have highly appreciated the energy and ability with which you have managed the indemnity question; also your generous offer of personal assistance to her in case of necessity. In spite of Mrs. Labaree’s strong conscientious convictions against accepting such an amount of money from the Persian Government, or in fact of any sum whatever, her friends are profoundly gratified that she is now liberally provided for as regards the future needs of herself and her children. * * *

We have simply asked that it should take such steps as it might find necessary to reestablish us in the security which we have enjoyed in the past seventy years while engaged in our legitimate work, and in the absence of such security we have thought ourselves entitled to make a loud appeal on the matter to our government through you, its accredited representative to the Persian Government, even to the point of uttering a protest against action on the part of our government, which, however wisely intended, increased rather than diminished the dangerousness of our position.

[Inclosure 6.]

Minister Pearson to Reverend Labaree.

Dear Sir: I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of March 23, which I have carefully considered.

For practical purposes and results it would seem that you and your associates should state precisely and specifically your demands upon the American Government. Such demands will receive the prompt and earnest consideration of this legation.

Sincerely, yours,

Richmond Pearson.