File No. 711.743/16.

The Secretary of State to the American Minister.

No. 84.]

Sir: The Department has received the despatches1 of August 19th, November 12th and November 16th last (Bulgarian Series Nos. 111, 161 and 164) in which complying with the Department’s instruction No. 35, of July 27th last,1 you reported further concerning the projected abolition of the extraterritorial regime in Bulgaria.

From your No. 111, of August 19th, it appears that the trade-license law has not yet affected the interests of the United States or given cause for complaint by its citizens, and presumably would not have upon American interests the retroactive effect which it is understood constitutes the objection to the law on the part of the British and French Governments. It would therefore seem that the attitude of this Government towards the proposed discontinuance of extraterritorial conditions in Bulgaria would not be affected adversely by considerations in connection with the trade-license law.

In your No. 161, of November 12th, and No. 164, of November 16th, you indicated and commented upon the reservations which the American missionary interests in Bulgaria consider necessary or desirable; and with the latter of these despatches you enclosed a memorandum compiled from letters from Mr. Leroy F. Ostrander, of the American Institute at Zamokow, specifying the “requests to be made to the Bulgarian Government in behalf of American citizens residing in Bulgaria.” An examination of the requests thus put forward in behalf of the American missionary interests in Bulgaria, and subsequently communicated to the Department in behalf of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, has led the Department to the conclusion that, save in so far as they have a basis in the principle of most-favored-nation treatment, these requests are in the nature of special privileges, not possessing such a national interest as would warrant this Government’s undertaking negotiations with a view to their realization. It is therefore considered that the interests of the American missionary enterprises in Bulgaria, as well as the other American interests which now exist or which may hereafter be created in that country, may be most satisfactorily and adequately served by assuring to them most-favored-nation treatment, in the fullest and most liberal sense possible, on the part of the Bulgarian Government. These views, which are believed to be substantially in accord with those indicated by you in your No. 164, of November 16th, were explained to Dr. James L. Barton, Secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, upon the occasion of a recent visit to the Department; and there has now been received from him a letter (a copy of which1 is enclosed herewith) in which, in behalf of the American Board, he withdraws the requests for specific privileges previously made in conformity with Mr. Ostrander’s suggestions, [Page 77] and expresses confidence that American interests would be amply protected by most-favored-nation treatment.

By reason of the fact that the United States possesses no capitulatory rights vis-à-vis Bulgaria, except by virtue of the Treaty of Berlin and through the operation of the most-favored-nation principle, which the Bulgarian Government recognizes as being applicable to this country as a matter of comity, there would seem to be no necessity for any formal negotiations on the subject of the relinquishment of American capitulatory rights in Bulgaria; it would seem feasible and advisable simply to define what is understood to be the existing situation by an exchange of views with the Bulgarian Government. To this end, you are authorized to bring to the knowledge of the Foreign Office, in whatever manner you may deem expedient, the fact that this Government, recognizing that it has no intrinsic right to the benefit of the Capitulations as established by the Treaty of Berlin, stands ready to facilitate the negotiations in which the Bulgarian Government is engaged, by assenting in advance to the relinquishment of such rights as it now enjoys in this respect, at such time as the signatory Powers shall all have consented to the discontinuance of the capitulatory regime; and you will take this occasion to seek from the Bulgarian Government an assurance of its readiness to accord to the United States, as a matter of international comity, the most extensive and liberal application of the principle of most-favored-nation treatment, including the extension to American citizens and their interests, whether commercial or religious or philanthropic, of all rights, privileges and exemptions which may be granted to the citizens or interests of any other nation.

There is enclosed herewith a copy of the letter,1 under date of the 4th instant, which the Department is addressing to Dr. Barton in reply to his communication to which reference is made above.

I am [etc.]

P. C. Knox.
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