Minister Leishman to the Secretary of State.

No. 1290.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 967 of January 6, 1906, inclosing copy of a letter addressed to the department by the American Bible Society regarding colportage of the Bible in Turkey.

The Sublime Porte, while admitting in principle the free and unrestricted sale of the Bible in Turkey, imposes certain regulations which interfere somewhat with the free movements of the colporteurs, who are treated upon the same basis as peddlers of other articles, who are compelled to secure a local license.

Theoretically no reasonable objection could be offered against this general regulation, but in practice the law is apt to be abused by the local officials, and for this reason the legation has been endeavoring to induce the Sublime Porte to issue a general permit that would be good in all districts, but without much hope of success.

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One of the greatest difficulties is that the Turkish Government can make no distinction between the colporteurs of the American Bible Society who sell nothing but Bibles and colporteurs engaged by the missionaries generally who also sell other books, etc., and as the men engaged in this service are all natives, of Greek, Armenian, or Bulgarian extraction, and principally prosecute their work in the disturbed districts of Armenia and Macedonia, the Porte insists upon each colporteur securing a local license, with a view of preventing ill-disposed persons from circulating revolutionary literature, etc., under the disguise of an innocent colporteur of Bibles.

The trouble complained of would probably be avoided entirely if the colporteurs were Americans or Europeans, but as the Bible Society does not find it practical to engage other than natives for this class of work, owing to the question of language, etc., more or less trouble is apt to be experienced from time to time, varying with existing political conditions.

The few isolated cases mentioned by Mr. Haven are receiving the necessary attention.

I have, etc.,

John G. A. Leishman.