File No. 4960.

Ambassador Leishman to the Secretary of State.


(States that he has just been confidentially informed that the Sublime Porte, acting upon the theory which has been advanced by the German ambassador that the treaty rights of the United States do not place us on the same footing in Turkey as the great European powers, has decided to increase the Turkish customs duties from 8 to 11 per cent without consulting the Government of the United States; that the contention is that, since the 5 per cent duty which was stipulated in the old capitulations was not specifically mentioned in our treaty of 1830, the United States is entitled only to their interpretation of most-favored-nation treatment, which means that every time the European powers choose to abandon any of their rights in return for consideration we should likewise be obliged automatically to cede ours without even being consulted with regard to them. Mr. Leishman states that for us to admit this would be a dangerous precedent which would sap the very foundation of our capitulation rights, judicial and commercial, and would be an acquiescence and recognition on our part of differential treatment; that our rights in this matter are based not only on the treaty of 1830 wherein they are implied, but also on the English Convention of 1838 (see Hertslet Treaties and Conventions, vol. 5, p. 506), the benefits of which by an agreement with the Sublime Porte were extended to us in the following year (see Porter’s dispatch No. 24, of November 20, 1839, to the department); that, after the denunciation in 1884 by the Turkish Government of the commercial treaty which was concluded in 1862 in default of a new convention, it would seem that we possessed the right to return to the status quo ante; that by Article I of this convention of 1838 all privileges, rights, and immunities granted by the capitulations and existing treaties were forever confirmed, while any rights which may be given later to other powers were equally granted; that in the additional articles of this convention the import duty of 5 per cent was further specifically mentioned; that this was also mentioned in the treaty of 1841 concluded between Turkey and Hamburg, Lubeck, and Bremen, the benefits of which must have been extended, of course, to us; that, having been thus in clear possession of certain specific rights, these could not be taken from us later without our consent only by violating treaties.)