File No. 4960/9–12.

Ambassador Leishman to the Secretary of State.

No. 197]

Sir: In my dispatch No. 190 of the 22d ultimo I had the honor to inform you of my audience with the Sultan on that day (inclosure No. 1) when His Majesty expressed his intention to consult the grand vizier about our pending questions with a view to their immediate settlement. I was informed by His Majesty that a definite reply would be given me upon the following day, when the first dragoman of the embassy was asked to call at the palace in order to receive it. [Page 1047] The dragoman having called was told by His Majesty’s first secretary, Tahsin Pasha, that it would be necessary to make certain inquiries of the cabinet ministers, a special meeting of whom had been called for February 26, and that the reply would be forthcoming on February 27. In view of this I judged it a favorable opportunity to send to the palace, in a Turkish translation for transmission to His Imperial Majesty, a memorandum on cotton-seed oil (inclosure No. 2), which I have added to our demands on the regulation of the mission questions. While the questions of mission properties and cotton-seed oil are of course entirely distinct, yet both have arisen through the denial of equality of treatment guaranteed us by the treaties, and involving as they do questions of principle, are both of the greatest importance. I am therefore endeavoring to press for their simultaneous settlement, whereas our other matters with the Porte can properly be allowed to take their normal course.

On February 27 the embassy dragoman, calling at the palace, was again put off until March 2, with positive assurances that no further delay would occur. But on Saturady, March 2, he was informed that the promised reply would be given on March 5.

Under the circumstances and in view of such repeated delays I have to-day sent a memorandum to Tahsin Pasha, for immediate transmission to His Majesty (inclosure No. 3). The embassy dragoman, who handed it personally, returned with the positive assurance that the promised reply will be given to-morrow, March 5. In any case, however, the purpose of the memorandum will be answered in establishing responsibility for the delay. As I have had the honor to inform you, our matters are now out of the hands of the Sublime Porte and in the palace. And while I have hitherto deemed it expedient to lay the entire blame for obstruction on the Sultan’s immediate counsellors and thus to screen His Majesty, the next few days will probably be enlightening as to the advisability of longer showing such consideration.

I have, etc.,

John G. A. Leishman.

[Inclosure 1.]

(Substance of Mr. Leishman’s conversation with His Imperial Majesty on Friday, February 22, 1907. A copy of this in Turkish was left with His Majesty.)

Certain difficulties have arisen that I find myself forced to bring to the attention of Your Majesty, and I respectfully beg leave to speak frankly to Your Majesty upon the matter.

The first concerns the question of equality of treatment of American religious, educational, and charitable institutions in Turkey. On August 13, 1904, the Sublime Porte, at the command of Your Majesty, addressed a note informing me “que vu les relations cordiales qui existent si heureusement entre les deux États il n’est jamais entré dans l’intention du Government Imperial de traiter sur un pied différentiel les écoles, les institutions, et les citoyens des Etats-Unis dans l’Empire.”

All that is now demanded is the execution of this gracious promise of Your Imperial Majesty.

After several years of patient effort upon the part of the embassy, mazbattas recommending the change in tenure of titles of certain properties belonging to American religious, educational, and charitable institutions which have been in existence for many years were finally sent to the palace for imperial sanction, but although several months have since elapsed no action has yet been taken.

[Page 1048]

By the benevolent act of Your Imperial Majesty, religious, educational, and charitable institutions throughout the Empire, whether native or foreign, are exempted from taxation, and in order to properly establish the ownership it is necessary to register the title deeds in the name of the several institutions; and in order to put the promise of Your Majesty into practical execution, placing American institutions upon the same basis as other similar institutions, the several departments have favorably recommended such action to Your Majesty.

No request for the establishment of any new institution is embodied in the present demand, as the matter in question concerns institutions which have been in existence for many years, whose legal existence was recognized in the settlement reached with the Sublime Porte in August, 1904, and included in the list riled at the request of the Sublime Porte in February, 1903, the request for recognition of new schools, etc., subsequently established having been applied for in the manner prescribed by Your Imperial Majesty’s Government, which have been allowed to take their regular course.

The second question concerns a case of discrimination against American agricultural products.

Through some error of drafting the regulations of the “loi sur les analyses chimiques,” a discriminating clause was inserted (art. 19) which operates to the disadvantage of American cotton-seed oil, which can not now be corrected without the express sanction of Your Imperial Majesty.

All that is asked in this case is that cotton-seed oil, which is a perfectly pure and wholesome vegetable product and admitted as such in every country of the world, be placed upon exactly the same footing as sesame and other similar oils.

I can not believe that Your Majesty would for a moment sanction the action of any official withholding from American citizens the equality of treatment guaranteed by treaties, and with full confidence in the justice and wisdom of Your Imperial Majesty I respectfully beg that imperial orders be issued that will cause the prompt regulation of our pending affairs and prevent any further discrimination in the future, as I would regret having to report to my Government that the equality of treatment guaranteed by treaties had been refused.

[Inclosure 2.]

memorandum on cotton-seed oil handed to his excellency tahsin pasha, for transmission to his imperial majesty february 26, 1907.

Cotton-seed oil, although a comparatively new product, is a pure and healthy vegetable oil which has been Generally introduced within recent years in all parts of the world, the higher grades being used as a substitute for lard for cooking purposes as well as for General domestic consumption, while the more ordinary grades are used for soap and other manufactures.

Analysis as well as General use shows it to be as healthy as other vegetable oils, and its purity as well as its cheapness recommends its use in preference to the ordinary grades of butter.

As comparatively little cotton is grown outside of the United States, with the exception of what is grown in the Ottoman Empire, where the utilization of the seed has not as yet been introduced, cotton-seed oil may very correctly be considered as a strictly American product, and the official reports of the Agricultural Department show that the world at large appreciates this new article of food.

Although this oil is largely used for the preservation of sardines and other articles of food introduced into Turkey, the direct importation has practically been prohibited by the regulations in the proposed law relating to chemical analysis, which can only be viewed as differential treatment and contrary to treaty agreements.

The American Government has certainly no intention of raising any objection to any action taken by the Imperial Ottoman Government with a view of protecting its citizens from impure or unhealthy food products, and in fact its own laws which prevent the sale of impure or adulterated food are well calculated to assist His Imperial Majesty’s Government in such a laudable action.

Of course it is well known that all vegetable oils, no matter how pure they may be originally, may become rancid and unfit for household use by long [Page 1049] exposure to heat and other causes, but this should not operate against them, as the same could be said of butter and other similar products, and for this reason an inspection of all food products is desirable and warrants the established practice of a chemical examination at the port of entry.

The American Government asks for no special treatment and raises no objection to the same requirements as to purity, etc., being applied to cotton-seed oil as are specified for other similar oils. All that is demanded is that cottonseed oil be admitted upon exactly the same footing as sesame and other vegetable oils.

It is impossible for the embassy to comply with the request that 40 okes of cotton-seed oil be furnished for analysis, as no importations have been permitted for over a year past, nor would such a procedure appear necessary, as according to the regulations mentioned each consignment is examined upon arrival, and inferior grades intended for manufacture can readily be distinguished by the accompanying documents, and may be treated with soda, potash, or other suitable chemicals that will absolutely prevent its being used for domestic consumption without injuring its use for manufacturing purposes.

In view of the fact that in the Ottoman Empire the importation of tinned fish is not restricted, although the main ingredient to preserve these articles is cotton-seed oil, it would seem to indicate that the restrictions imposed on this staple in Turkey are directed specifically against its importation from the United States and that the entry of an article preserved or even adulterated with cotton-seed oil is permitted when shipped from other countries. It is thus unnecessary to call attention to the inconsistency of the claim that the present regulations have been made for sanitary reasons.

[Inclosure 3.]

memorandum from the american ambassador to his excellency the first secretary of the imperial palace.

The American ambassador, on Friday, February 22 last, had the honor of being received by His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, when he brought to His Majesty’s personal attention the fact that certain legitimate demands of his Government were withheld in spite of their being strictly confined to rights and privileges guaranteed by treaties and repeatedly reaffirmed by the Sublime Porte, where they had been examined and approved by the competent departments. His Majesty, with whom the ambassabor left copies of the correspondence covering the matter in question, graciously expressed his intention to see his highness the grand vizier with reference thereto upon the following day, and the ambassador was asked to send the first dragoman of the embassy to the imperial palace on Sunday, February 24, to receive a definite reply. Upon the appointed day the dragoman, having called on his excellency the first secretary, was informed that the promised reply would be given after the special meeting of the cabinet ministers at the imperial palace on Tuesday, February 26, and that he was to call at the palace on Wednesday, February 27, to receive it. On Wednesday, however, the dragoman was again put off until Saturday, March 2, with repeated assurances that no further delay would occur. Calling on his excellency on Saturday, he was informed that the promised reply would be given on Tuesday, March 5.

The ambassador has too high a regard for the lofty sentiments and high sense of justice of His Majesty and for the value of the imperial promise to suppose that it has been the august sovereign’s intention to delay this decision for a single instant. He can only infer that the same influences which had already stood in the way of these matters reaching the imperial person, have again interfered and prevented the carding into effect of His Majesty’s promise.

In view, therefore, of his sincere desire to contribute to the best of his ability toward continuing the friendly relations which have so happily existed between the two Governments, and in order to prevent any misinterpretation being placed upon this delay, the ambassador begs his excellency the first secretary to at once lay the contents of this communication before his august sovereign. The ambassador would indeed deem himself remiss in the high charge entrusted to him and would regard it as incompatible with the feeling of deep respect he entertains for His Imperial Majesty, if under the circumstances he failed to lay the full aspects of this matter before his august person.