The Secretary of State to Minister Leishman.

No. 953.]

Sir: Referring to instruction No. 936, of the 15th ultimo, on the subject of the refusal of the director of customs at Beirut to grant to the American religious, educational, and benevolent institutions within the Beirut consular district the customs immunities enjoyed by like establishments of France, Italy, Russia, Great Britain, and Germany, and by similar American establishments at Smyrna, Constantinople, Erzerum Trebizond, and possibly, as Consul-General Bergholz says, at other places, I inclose herewith a copy of a dispatch from Mr. Bergholz,a forwarding for such action as the department may deem fit the claims of both the American mission and the American College at Beirut for reimbursement for the duties illegally demanded of them by the custom-house at Beirut on goods entitled by the capitulations and the treaties to free entry.

The correspondence printed in Foreign Relations for 1904 shows that this Government assumed the position that the institutions in the list transmitted by your legation to the Ottoman Government on February 25, 1903, must be considered as having been officially recognized. The department infers that the institutions named in Mr. Bergholz’s dispatch No. 12 were included in that list.

The position of the United States has been and is that American institutions are entitled to the same treatment that is accorded to other foreign institutions in like cases, and you were instructed on November 15 to demand this.

As it does not appear whether other foreign institutions of similar character are presenting claims for the reimbursement of back duties paid by them, you will ascertain and report to the department whether such claims are being presented, in order that the department may determine whether the claims of these American institutions for the refund of the duties heretofore paid by them should be presented.

I am, etc.,

Elihu Root.
  1. Not printed.