File No. 5012/29.

The Secretary of State to Ambassador Straus.

No. 24.]

Sir: The department has received your No. 2, of September 23,1 regarding the demands made upon the embassy by American citizens seeeking concessions in Turkey and the limits or the scope of the official assistance to be given by the embassy in such matters.

You strongly urge the continuance of the rule which, in accordance with an understanding with the department, you adopted during your ministership at Constantinople, in the past—that in applications for concessions on matters of a financial nature should, in the first instance, be made direct to the department, so that the department would not only be advised but might also give such instructions as to it appeared in accordance with the policy and interests of the Government, and that the action of the embassy be limited to securing for such claimants to concessions who seem to be deserving of it an introduction to the respective departmental chiefs having charge of such matters, and then to leave such persons to depend upon their own efforts, without having any right further to claim or rely upon the embassy’s assistance in conducting their negotiations.

As you are aware, the general policy of the department has been to seek to have the same opportunity and facilities for submitting proposals, tendering bids, and obtaining contracts as are enjoyed by concerns of any other foreign country afforded to reputable representatives of American concerns, without espousing the claim of any particular individual or firm to the exclusion of others.

The department could not undertake to investigate the financial responsibility of applicants or to ascertain whether they are entitled to the support of the embassy, and thus make the ambassador a bare agent to state and carry into effect the department’s conclusions.

It might be possible, however, and expedient for the department to receive and act upon such applications in the first instance in a routine and pro forma way, in order to have a record here and to initiate action by the ambassador, upon whom must rest the real responsibility for determining by the usual method at his place of residence the credit and standing of applicants.

It appears from your dispatch that you are sufficiently aware that applicants claiming to represent American interests are often irresponsible, and your judgment and experience are such as to enable you to give due weight to the standing of the firms who seek your assistance. You need, therefore, no instructions either to support, as far as possible, all proper American efforts to undertake the [Page 596] development of railway projects and obtain public contracts or to guard against any support of unworthy people.

The department would be pleased to receive a further expression of your opinion as to the most desirable manner of treating cases of this character, with a view to avoiding delay by forwarding to Washington the applications in Turkey of those who are known to be responsible or to be acting as representatives of reputable concerns.

I am, etc.,

P. C. Knox.
  1. Not printed.