File No. 4960/64–68.

Ambassador Leishman to the Secretary of State.

No. 265.]

Sir: With further reference to my several dispatches on the subject of the customs increase, I have the honor to confirm the note of the Sublime Porte contained in my telegraphic dispatch No. 42 of the 3d instant, stating the different concessions made in settlement of our demands (inclosure No. 1). It has been agreeable for me to have enjoyed the privilege of contributing to the task of placing American rights in the Ottoman Empire on a footing of equality with those of other nations, and I beg to heartily thank the department for the support and aid it has given the embassy in effecting this.

The settlement thus far obtained recognizes for the first time the official existence of American missions in the Ottoman Empire, and the principle secured is of far more importance than the concessions themselves. While I am glad that injustice has been corrected in the case of the Syrian customs immunities and the new buildings at Talas, Cesarea. The precedent established in the recognition of our mission is one of far greater importance, and I am thankful that it has been effected by purely diplomatic means. It has likewise been agreeable for me to have been instrumental in aiding our commercial [Page 1055] interests by securing the entry into Turkey of cotton-seed oil. The correction of titles has not yet been put into execution. The imperial irade to this effect had been sent to the Sublime Porte for transmission to the archives, but the director thereof found himself unable to obey, not having the title deeds describing the properties in question. These had been sent to the palace, where the Sultan’s secretary refused to surrender them without another irade. As further delay would have been occasioned to obtain this, the simplest solution was found to be for the embassy to furnish new copies of all the title deeds, a proceeding which has required considerable labor on our part. There have been other instances of difficulty. The first instructions sent to the customs authorities at Beirut only extended the immunities to the college and its affiliated institutions, all of which were already recipients of such privileges. I was therefore obliged to take up the matter vigorously at the capital, and I am glad to say that it has now been corrected. Lately I heard that the necessary orders had been issued to the customs at Beirut that all American institutions in Syria were officially recognized and were henceforth to be accorded the immunities, very much to the gratification of the missionaries in Syria, as evidenced by Mr. Eavndal’s telegram (inclosure No. 2). And yesterday I was the recipient of a testimonial signed by the officers of the annual meeting of the Western Turkey Mission, now sitting here, expressing appreciation for the “far-reaching settlement” effected by the embassy, a copy of which is inclosed (inclosure No. 3).

On May 3 I received a note from the Sublime Porte, a copy of which, with translation, I also have the honor to inclose (inclosure No. 4), requesting the adhesion of the embassy to the proposed customs increase.

I have, etc.,

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

The Minister for Foreign Affairs to Ambassador Leishman.

No. 68775.]

Mr. Ambassador: In reply to the different communications which your excellency was good enough to address to me relative to certain affairs discussed between the imperial ministry and the American embassy I have the honor to state that, in compliance with a mazbata of the council of ministers sanctioned by irade of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, the Sublime Porte has already by imperial order communicated to the embassy the decision previously reached of treating American establishments in Turkey on the same footing as those of other nations. In applying this principle, the Sublime Porte having proceeded to the correction of the registers of establishments and institutions forming part of the list filed by the embassy which were in possession of and occupied by Americans holding regular title deeds, an irade of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan has just ordered the execution of this formality so far as concerns the establishments and institutions of which the embassy had asked the change of titles and which were submitted to the sovereign sanction after examination by the competent department. 2. The necessary orders have already been transmitted to the Vilayet of Angora in order that the local authorities should no longer raise objections to the construction of new buildings to be added to the school and the dispensary at Talas. 3. The customs authorities in Syria and at Salonica have likewise received orders to grant existing [Page 1056] American establishments and institutions the legal régime of customs immunities enjoyed by the other similar foreign establishments. 4. The department of indirect contributions has been requested to apply the method of coloring cotton oils only when they are impure or adulterated.

In bringing the above to your notice I take occasion, etc.,

[Inclosure 2.]

Consul-General Ravndal to Ambassador Leishman.


Customs director here has received a telegram from Constantinople that all American establishments in Syria have been officially recognized and that they must be accorded immunities. Americans here rejoicing, including myself. Send you hearty felicitations and thanks.

[Inclosure 3.]

Testimonial of the officers of the Western Turkey Mission to Ambassador Leishman.

Sir: Your letter of May 8 addressed to Mr. Peet, in which you report the substance of action taken by the Sublime Porte concerning rights and immunities which have just been by irade of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan extended to American citizens and to their educational and other work in this Empire, has been read to our meeting now convened in this city.

We are directed on behalf of the meeting and of our associates in this Empire to express to you our most hearty thanks for the satisfactory note which through your efforts has lately been obtained from the Sublime Porte in evidence of a settlement placing American citizens and institutions on an equality with those of other nations. We are aware that the settlement of this important case has entailed a great amount of labor and careful thought on the part of both yourself and your staff, and its accomplishment represents a large measure of industry and devotion in its behalf.

We are confident that the same interest which you have thus far manifested and which has achieved for us this far-reaching settlement will also secure the vigorous maintenance of our rights until the work so well begun is entirely completed.

Again assuring you of our sincere gratitude,

We are, etc.,

George F. Herrick, Chairman.
Joseph K. Greene, Secretary.
W. W. Peet } Committee.
M. Bowen
Edward Riggs
[Inclosure 4.—Translation.]

The Minister for Foreign Affairs to Ambassador Leishman.

The ministry for foreign affairs has the honor to inform the Americanambassador that as a result of the negotiations passed between the Sublime Porte and the German, Austro-Hungarian, French, British, Italian, and Russian embassies, [Page 1057] an agreement has been reached for an increase of 3 per cent in the customs duties, such measure going into effect the 25th of June of this year. In bringing the foregoing facts to the notice of the American embassy, the minister for foreign affairs trusts that the embassy will kindly adhere to the above agreement, until such time as a new commercial treaty will permit commercial relations between the two countries being established upon a definite basis.