The Consul in Chargé at Damascus (Allen) to the Secretary of State

No. 57

Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that I have today been advised verbally by the Director of Consular Services (formerly Minister of Foreign Affairs) of the State of Damascus and by the French Legal Adviser to the local government that a controversy in which I have been engaged with the government for some time over the correct interpretation of Article IV of the Treaty of May 7, 183015 has been decided in my favor, that is to say, in favor of the point of view of the Department of State, and that henceforth American citizens accused of crime or misdemeanor in this jurisdiction will be immediately turned over to this office for trial.

I had occasion to bring this matter up when the local government, in accordance with the procedure usual in the case of other powers whose nationals enjoy capitulatory rights, sent me for execution a sentence passed prior to my arrival here against the American citizen, Nejib Meshaka, accused and convicted of a constructive assault against his uncle. I returned the sentence with a statement to the [Page 933] effect that it was in contravention of the article and treaty abovementioned, was therefore in contravention, not only of American law, but of local law, and could not be lawfully executed by any authority.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Locally speaking it is a considerable victory for this office over the government but it is quite evident that no particular credit is due me seeing that I merely made use of arguments advanced by the Department a long time ago. A great deal of credit is due the French Delegation however in having obliged the local government to accept unconditionally our point of view in the matter. This is merely another example in proof of what I have continuously insisted upon, namely, that the French themselves make a distinction between the State of Damascus and the remainder of Syria. …

I have [etc.]

Charles E. Allen
  1. With Turkey; see Miller, Treaties, vol. 3, p. 541.