Minister Leishman to the Secretary of State .

No. 1310.]

Sir: I beg to inclose herewith, for the information of the department, copy of a circular note issued by the Sublime Porte preparatory to the promulgation of the new stamp law.

While the proposed law, which has been under discussion for the past year, has been materially modified, and many of the objectionable features eliminated, I have, in furtherance of the policy already outlined to the department, notified the minister for foreign affairs that the legation was not in position to recommend its acceptance on account of the failure of the Sublime Porte to put its numerous promises and agreements into practical execution. (See copy of legation’s note to the Porte inclosed herewith.)

I can already see signs of activity at the Porte which lead me to believe that we may expect favorable action upon a number of our pending cases in the very near future.

I have, etc.,

John G. A. Leishman.
[Inclosure 1.—Circular note verbale.—Translation.]

The Minister for Foreign Affairs to Minister Leishman .

The imperial ministry for foreign affairs has the honor to forward herewith to the legation of the United States, with its French translation, the modified text of the stamp law which has just been sanctioned by an irade of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan.

As the legation of the Republic will be good enough to notice on reading this text, the modifications which have been introduced pay great attention to the suggestions made by the foreign missions in their last identic note verbale.

The Imperial Government has also caused to be eliminated from the text of the said law the Nos. 96 and 115 of the tariff of fixed rates concerning the stamps to be affixed to signboards and playing cards. After careful examination of the opinions brought forward the Imperial Government is, however, still of the opinion that the taxes pertaining to it would not have constituted a license tax, or a surcharge on the customs duties, but in fact a real stamp tax, such as is understood and practiced in many other countries.

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Hoping, therefore, that a further examination of these points will induce the foreign missions to admit its true character, the Sublime Porte does not insist any further under present circumstances, and reserves for itself to make this the occasion of a distinct proposition in the future.

In regard to the stamp called “of the Hedjaz Railroad,” the imperial ministry, basing itself upon its previous communications upon this subject, begs to declare that considering the temporary character of this stamp and the humanitarian object to which its proceeds are destined, it appears to it inopportune to connect this point to the stamp law; and it hopes that the foreign missions will kindly agree to its point of view in this matter.

They (the foreign missions) will kindly notice also the additional provision to article No. 21 and the total suppression of article 26, which could not, however, as has been previously explained, have in view any but Ottoman companies.

By this additional provision and this suppression the Imperial Government has wished to avoid any misunderstanding and to do away with the idea of a possible differential treatment.

No. 50 of article 28 in the text of the law has been changed according to the spirit of the desires expressed by the foreign missions. The verifications mentioned in chapter 6 of the law being essential for the safety of its execution, the Imperial Government has not been able to introduce any modifications.

However, in order to give the missions concerned the possibility of examining this important question, the Imperial Government has transmitted to the administration of the public debt orders not to put these measures into execution with regard to foreign establishments until a complete agreement be arrived at on this subject.

Consequently the imperial ministry considers it its duty to reserve this point for further discussion with the firm hope that the United States legation will then admit the justice and utility of he verifications.

The preceding explanations show sufficiently the scrupulous care that the Imperial Government has taken to take into account the suggestions made by the foreign missions in regard to the modifications to be introduced in the text of the law 1322. [Hegira.]

The ministry hopes that the United States legation will appreciate at its proper value the modifications so introduced, and that it will be good enough to insure its execution as far as it is concerned within the period prescribed in article 81 of the law.

P. S.—The printing of the inclosures not being yet finished, they will shortly be transmitted to the United States legation under separate cover.

[Inclosure 2.—Note verbale.]

Minister Leishman to the Minister for Foreign Affairs .

The American legation has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of circular note verbale issued by the imperial ministry for foreign affairs, under date of February 28, 1906, No. 64311/18, relative to certain modifications which the Sublime Porte desires to introduce into the present stamp act.

As it appears from a supplement of above-mentioned note that the matter is not yet in shape to present to the foreign missions for approval on account of the delay in printing, the legation is not in a position at present to express an intelligent opinion of the proposed measure from an academic standpoint; and even if the text of the proposed act was at hand, the legation could not consistently recommend to its Government the granting of favors while the rights of American citizens and institutions are being withheld.

The legation therefore, notwithstanding its good will and kindly disposition, is prevented from recommending to its Government the granting of favors such as this or the proposed increase of 3 per cent in the customs duties until such time as the numerous undertakings of the Sublime Porte are put into practical execution, and American citizens, commerce, and institutions are treated upon exactly the same basis as those of the most-favored nation.

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Under these circumstances the legation has to inform the Sublime Porte that in the absence of a previous agreement with the American Government any attempt upon the part of the Imperial Ottoman authorities to apply the proposed stamp act or any other increased duty whatsoever to American citizens, commerce, or institutions will be regarded as a violation of treaty rights, and the legation takes this occasion to lodge a formal protest with the Sublime Porte against any such action.