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File No. 367.114M69/159.

The American Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

No. 247.]

Sir: In confirmation of my telegram of July 16th, I have the honor to enclose herewith copy with translation of the note received from the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the subject of the jurisdiction and trial of captain of the Texas.

I shall forward copy of my reply as soon as it has been communicated to the Sublime Porte.

I have [etc.]

W. W. Rockhill.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs to the American Embassy.

Mr. Ambassador: I have had the honor to receive the note in which your excellency, referring to previous communications from the Embassy of the United States of America, feels called upon to protest against the imprisonment and trial by the Ottoman judicial authorities of Captain Spiro Macris, who was in command of the Texas at the time of her shipwreck; to request the suspension of the inquiry until a detailed sketch of the locality of the accident should be furnished to the Embassy; and finally to demand the transfer of the judicial action and the surrender of the accused to American consular jurisdiction.

In seizing this occasion to repeat to your excellency how much I deplore this accident, which caused the death of a large number of Ottoman subject’s, as well as the loss of a ship flying the American flag, I feel obliged to point out that the judicial proceedings brought against the said captain have been amply Justified by grave evidence establishing his responsibility, of which the competent Ottoman tribunal will have to judge the value.

Although for pressing reasons of national defense in time of war (reasons already known, if I am not mistaken, to the Embassy and the American Consulate at Smyrna) the military authorities had been unable to furnish the sketch demanded by your excellency, the notices from my Department, [Page 1328]dated May 19th and 30th, as well as the information gathered on the spot by the representatives of the Embassy, ought to have enlightened your excellency about the circumstances which brought about this deplorable accident.

This written and verbal information has demonstrated clearly that, in spite of the scrupulous care with which the Imperial authorities at Smyrna had particularly drawn the attention of the Hadji Daoud Company to the inexplicable negligence of its captains in complying with the regulations made solely in the very interest of the safety of vessels, the captain of the Texas on the day of the accident, following the custom of the captains of the company, did not heed the blank and loaded shots fired by the battery and had himself run against a torpedo.

The imprudence or the bravado with which the said captains prided themselves in transgressing the regulations was fated to end in this catastrophe, and it is not difficult to imagine the spirit in which the company and its employees now seek to cast all the odium of it upon our military authorities, and that, too, against all evidence and against all the abstract and concrete proof establishing in such an overwhelming manner the fact that the loaded shots were not aimed to strike the vessel and did not and could not hit it nor sink it.

The judicial proceedings intended to establish Captain Macris’ responsibility are therefore absolutely legitimate, and I find it impossible to arrest their course, particularly as my Department and the Imperial authorities at Smyrna have already enlightened the Embassy of the Republic upon the circumstances of the accident without its seeming necessary to unmask the whole system of defense of a port which is continually menaced by the enemy.

Regarding the competency of the American Consular Court, I am constrained to point out, while reserving the Imperial Government’s point of view concerning Article IV of the Treaty of 1830, that in this complicated case, where grave Ottoman interests are at stake, the accused, who is not of American nationality, was arrested outside of his ship, which was as a matter of fact lost, and that he is being prosecuted for having caused injury to the said Ottoman interests.

There cannot therefore be any question of the competence of the American Consulate.

As to the reserves formulated by the Embassy of the Republic in the last paragraph of its note verbale of June 8, I need not remark that the Imperial Government cannot under any circumstances admit any responsibility whatever in connection with an accident due solely to the fault of Captain Macris, and that, on the contrary, it reserves all rights to an indemnity for losses caused to individuals and to the Ottoman State.

I seize [etc.]

Moustafa Assim.