File No. 367.114M69/157.

The American Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

No. 243.]

Sir: In continuation of my despatch No. 234 dated June 28, 1912, concerning the jurisdiction in the case of the captain of the steamship Texas sunk in Smyrna harbor on April 29 last, I have the honor herewith to enclose copies of telegrams received from the American Consul General at Smyrna showing subsequent developments in the case and the commencement of the trial of the captain in a Turkish penal court; also copies of my telegrams to the Consul General, and copy of the protest which I have directed to H. E. Moustafa Assim Bey, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

I have [etc.]

W. W. Rockhill.
[Inclosure 1.]

The American Consul General at Smyrna to the American Embassy.

[Telegram.]

Trial Texas Captain commenced in Turkish penal court. Cable instructions.

Horton.
[Inclosure. 2.]

The American Ambassador to the American Consul General at Smyrna. 1

[Telegram.]

Your telegram July 9. Protest vigorously. I am doing the same.

Rockhill.
[Inclosure 3.]

The American Ambassador to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

No. 111.]

Excellency: I have the honor to inform your excellency that the American Consul General at Smyrna telegraphs that a trial of Spiro Macris, Captain of the steamship Texas at the time of her sinking, [has] commenced in the Ottoman criminal court at Smyrna.

[Page 1326]

In an interview which I had the honor to have with your excellency on the 11th of May last, and which I confirmed by a memorandum bearing same date.1 reserving explicitly the question of jurisdiction, I requested that the Imperial Ministry furnish me with a chart showing the location of the wreck, the buoys, the courses, and the ships at the date of the sinking, these data being: absolutely necessary to determine the facts of the case. I further stated that before the above chart was furnished and the facts of the case were fully known, the local authorities should not be permitted to proceed further in the matter.

By its note verbale of the 8th of June, 1912,2 this Embassy had the honor to point out that as the Texas was an American vessel, the property of an American corporation and flying the American flag, and as its captain was held for a crime alleged to have been committed by him while aboard that American vessel and in his capacity as master of the same, he is subject to the same jurisdiction as would be an American citizen serving in like capacity. The Embassy therefore specifically requested the surrender of the said Spiro Macris to the custody of the American Consul General at Smyrna, to be tried by the American Consular Court for such charges as might be properly brought against him on account of any act committed by him while performing his duties as master of the said American vessel.

By its note verbale of the 27th of June 1912,3 this Embassy, while reiterating its above-mentioned requests, found itself obliged to protest against the action of the Ottoman authorities at Smyrna, who had removed the said captain from the hospital prison and thrown him into the common prison of convicted persons.

I cannot conceal my surprise that notwithstanding the requests contained in the above-mentioned memorandum and two notes of this Embassy, all of which remain unanswered, the local authorities should have acted as stated above, and, reserving all rights, I am constrained to enter hereby a most formal protest against the attempt on the part of the Ottoman authorities to try the said Spiro Macris pending the determinaion of the questions submitted by this Embassy to the Imperial Ministry in its above-mentioned communications.

  1. For the reply to this telegram, see the Inclosure with Mr. Rockhill’s No. 245 of July 12.
  2. Inclosure 3 with despatch No. 234 of June 28.
  3. Inclosure with Ms despatch of June 12.
  4. Inclosure 2 with his despatch of June 28.