File No. 367.112 Er 4/1.

The American Chargé d’Affaires to the Secretary of State.

No. 259.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy and translation of a dispatch, dated the 17th ultimo,1 from the Austrian consul at Monastir, in the Province of Macedonia, addressed to the Austrian Embassy at Constantinople, and copies of two letters,1 with inclosures, dated the 26th ultimo and the 5th instant, respectively, received at this embassy from Mr. W. W. Peet, treasurer of American Missions in Turkey, all of which relate to the expulsion from the town of Elbassan, Albania, of Rev. C. Telford Erickson, an American citizen, who was forced by the Turkish authorities to suddenly leave his home at that place and proceed with his family, under reported distressing circumstances, to the town of Monastir, without written order, or, apparently, any adequate reason.

I beg to report that the facts as reported by the Austrian consul at Monastir, who is in charge of American interests, and which are supported by the statements of Mr. Erickson in his letters to Mr. Peet (inclosures 2 and 3)1 give evidence that the Turkish authorities at Elbassan have committed a grave injustice in peremptorily expelling a peaceful American citizen from his home without any apparent grounds upon which to base such action.

Mr. Erickson, who is an American missionary, is reported to me to be a quiet and unoffending man of refinement and education. He is undoubtedly endeavoring to acquire property at Elbassan with the ultimate intention of establishing there a school and hospital under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in Boston, Mass. After careful inquiry, I can ascertain the existence of no possible reason for his being subjected to such treatment as reported except that the Turkish authorities, looking upon this man in the light of a hindrance to, and as a witness of, the carrying out of certain harsh punitive measures they have lately been putting into execution against the Albanians, among whom, I am informed, he is much respected and liked, have adopted the above means of getting rid of him. It may also be suggested that the Ottoman Government might strongly object to the establishment of an American school at Elbassan, where the Albanian instead of Turkish language will in all probability be employed on account of its greater simplicity. The Ottoman Government is apparently determined [Page 739] that Turkish shall be the sole language of the schools in Albania. I have been informed by Mr. Peet, however, that the above missionary has not been engaged in teaching, pending the acquirement of school property.

I beg also to call attention to the fact that Mr. Erickson was subject to very similar treatment by the Ottoman authorities at Tirana, in the year 1909, and that the case was taken up by this embassy with the Sublime Porte with the result that Mr. Erickson did not return to that place but took up his residence at Elbassan where he has since been endeavoring to purchase a piece of land, presumably for school and hospital purposes, and upon which he has already paid a sum of money, but to which he had not secured the title at the time of his expulsion from Elbassan. I understand that the stated reason upon which the Ottoman authorities based their treatment of Mr. Erickson at that time was that he was attempting to propagate Albanian literature written in the Latin characters.

I beg to report to the Department that after having exhausted every means of obtaining information directly from the ministry of the interior and the ministry of war as to the state of affairs at Elbassan and the cause of the expulsion of the American missionary, I addressed a note verb ale to the Sublime Porte, a copy and translation of which I have the honor to transmit herewith, in which I stated the facts of the case, requested that immediate orders be given to enable the return of Erickson and his family to Elbassan, at the same time reserving all rights, in case further demands are determined upon, and request eel a full explanation from the authorities at Elbassan for their unwarranted action. No reply has been received to this communication. I subsequently spoke of the affair to both the grand vizier and the foreign minister; each expressed entire ignorance in the matter. The foreign minister remarked there had been much disturbance in that region and seemed to attach little importance to the occurrence, assuring me only that he would obtain information in regard to the same.

In requesting instructions from the Department in the above matter, I most strongly advise that the Ottoman Government be held responsible for such damages as may be found to have been caused by any unwarranted treatment of this American citizen by the authorities at Elbassan, of whose actions in this matter a full explanation should be forthcoming, and that the immediate removal of the present restriction against his return to Elbassan should be insisted upon.

Trusting the action already taken in this matter will meet with the Department’s approval.

I have, etc.,

Hoffman Philip.

The American Chargé d’Affaires to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The American Embassy has the honor to bring to the serious attention of the Sublime Porte the following facts:

Mr. Telford Erickson, an American citizen, who has peacefully resided at Elbassan for the past year, was suddenly and without apparent cause ordered [Page 740] by the authorities at that place to leave his home at Elbassan with his family and proceed at once to Monastir. He requested a written order, but this was denied him. He telegraphed to Constantinople for advice, but before time was allowed for a reply, he was on the 7th instant forced to leave Elbassan, with his sick wife and four young children, and after six days’ fatiguing travel, part of which was on horseback, arrived at Monastir, where he now is.

This embassy having lately received official information as to the exactitude of the above facts, and reserving all rights, begs to request that the imperial ministry for foreign affairs will cause immediate orders to be given to the authorities at Monastir and Elbassan that the return of this American citizen to the latter place shall not be prevented and, at the same time, to cause the said authorities to submit a full explanation of their unwarranted action in forcing this man from his home together with his invalid wife and four young children.

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