Minister Leishman to the Secretary of State.

No. 1300.]

Sir: In reference to the new building which the American College at Beirut desires to erect for a woman’s hospital, I beg to inclose copy of correspondence with Doctor Bliss snowing that a formal application has been filed with the Porte in the manner prescribed in the Mytilene agreement.

I am in hopes of securing a satisfactory adjustment of this matter at an early date; but in any case the legation will now be in a position to follow up the matter in an official way through the foreign office, and in the event of the Porte failing to take action in the matter within the period fixed in the French settlement the legation will at least be in a position to claim the right by default, as it has done in a similar case at Cesarea and quite recently in the case of an industrial school at Salonica.

I have, etc.,

John G. A. Leishman.
[Inclosure 1.]

Doctor Bliss to Minister Leishman.

My Dear Mr. Leishman: Before taking my steamer this afternoon for Syria, I desire to record my appreciation of the great courtesy with which you have received me during my stay in Constantinople and of the warm interest you take in the welfare of our college.

I am grateful for the efforts you are making to secure the permit to build our woman’s hospital, and for the assurance that now a formal application for the permit has been made through the legation under the term of the Mytilene settlement, the building can not be delayed at the longest beyond the limit of six months. As I filed the application with the legation on February 21, and as I understand the application is to be presented to the Government this week, we shall expect to begin building by September 1, 1906, in accordance with your instructions. Long before this, however, I hope we may be able to begin, in the event of your being able to secure the permit sought for by us through the Vali in Beirut.

I am gratified to learn from you that our consul-general at Beirut has been instructed to notify the local authorities that His Majesty the Sultan has granted to bona fide American institutions the privileges accorded to the institutions of other nations.

Since coming to Constantinople I have learned that the medical college (American) at Beirut is accorded full custom privilges, but that other American institutions in Syria are obliged to pay on deposit. It is in connection with this last item that I desire to make in writing a brief statement: It is now [Page 1384] nearly three years that our Government took the position that bona fide American institutions were not to be put to any disadvantage as compared with similar institutions of other countries. The fact that custom immunities are not fully accorded to bona fide American institutions in Syria constitutes such a disadvantage. The matter may be considered a small inconvenience, but whether small or great it is a sufficient indication that the Turkish Government is not treating, us as it is treating other nations, and until this is changed and bona fide American institutions in Syria (such as the college as a whole as distinguished from its medical department, and such as the press) are accorded custom immunities, it is very difficult—nay, it is impossible—to believe that the Turkish Government recognizes in principle or in practice the application of the terms of the Mytilene settlement to American institutions. The very term “on deposit” suggests that something is pending, whereas in the case of bona fide institutions the matter is settled, according to the assurances given our Government by the Turkish Government.

In reporting this discrimination against bona fide American institutions in Syria, in accordance with the legation’s request to report all such discriminations, I beg to express the hope that the United States Government will take prompt measures to call the attention of the Turkish Government to this prima facie evidence of its invidious discrimination. On my arrival in Beirut, or very soon after, I hope to be able to report to our trustees in America that this discrimination has been removed, for until it has been removed the crucial point in the whole school question would appear to have been practically denied,

Again thanking you for all your kindness, and hoping to see you before long in Beirut.

I am, etc.,

Howard S. Bliss.
[Inclosure 2.]

Minister Leishman to Doctor Bliss.

My Dear Doctor Bliss: I have to acknowledge the receipt of the letter which you addressed to me on the eve of your departure, and I thank you very much for the kindly sentiments expressed in same, which I assure you are fully reciprocated.

It is a duty as well as a pleasure to do all I can to further the interests of the great American eductional institution over which you have the honor to preside, and I can assure you that my efforts will not be relaxed until all pending questions have been definitely and satisfactorily settled.

The formal application for permission to erect a new building for the proposed Jesup Hospital for Women has already been filed with the Porte, and the legation will continue in its efforts to secure a prompt and favorable decision.

As you are aware, every proper effort is being made with a view of arriving at a satisfactory settlement with the Porte concerning the questions of taxation, customs privileges for the Syrian missions, transfer of titles into the names of the several institutions, etc., and if the mission board will promptly furnish the legation with the desired information concerning character of institutions, proof of ownership of property, etc., it will enable the legation to rob the Porte of the only valid excuse for the long delay in putting its numerous promises into practical execution.

Trusting that you enjoyed your return trip and found everything progressing favorably at the college, with kindest regards and best wishes for your continued success,

Very sincerely, yours,

John G. A. Leishman.