867.4016/654: Circular telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France ( Herrick )

I have received following telegram from Bishop James Cannon at Paris:

“Returned from Constantinople today find American papers quote my London Times article incorrectly. I said: ‘Personally believe Christian America will insist Government United States cooperate actively protect Christians in Asia Minor not only diplomatically but if necessary with army and navy to secure their result.’ I did not claim Government would certainly adopt that course. You will recall American church bodies urged State Department July take whatever steps necessary protect Eastern Christians. Prompt definite American demands supported if necessary by American naval units present would probably have prevented certainly greatly minimized Smyrna fires and massacres. I believe Almighty God will hold Government responsible for inaction while thousands murdered and deported and for failure protect against defiant heartless brutal Kemalist announcement that all refugees not removed today, Saturday, be deported which deportation means thousands more added to dead of previous Turkish deportations. Will not our Government realize its opportunity and responsibility as great Christian nation politically disinterested to demand that burnings outrages massacres cease and thus effectively prevent probably repetition in Constantinople and Thrace of 1915 Samsoun and Smyrna horrors. I believe world-wide humanity would tremendously approve. Who would dare condemn prohibition further such horror? Shall America have condemnation of Meroz? Judges 5: 23. Bishop James Cannon.”

I have sent a reply in care of Embassy for immediate delivery to Bishop Cannon or to be forwarded to him. This reply reads as follows:

“Bishop James Cannon, Care American Embassy, Paris, France. Your telegram of September 30th reached me this morning. In the present situation which has resulted from the clash of arms, the defeat of the Greek forces, the incidents of the retreat, and the reprisals effected, not only have we done all that is possible for relief and in aid of the refugees but we have exerted in an appropriate manner our influence against all acts of cruelty and oppression.

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On September 8th, before the burning of Smyrna, the American High Commissioner at Constantinople voiced this country’s feeling in earnestly impressing upon the Turkish Nationalist authorities the importance of taking the most energetic steps to insure the population of the occupied territories against reprisal. Instructions have been sent to continue and urge these representations and to emphasize the importance of immediate peaceful settlement in the interest of humanity. I have stated this Government’s unequivocal approval of the Allied proposals to insure effectively the protection of the Christian minorities and the freedom of the Straits. American officials have intervened to secure the prolongation of the time limit for the evacuation of the refugees from Smyrna, and thousands have been evacuated as a result of American initiative.

You will also recall that in June last we agreed to join in an inquiry which we hoped would place responsibility and prevent the recurrence of atrocities.

Keenly alive to every humanitarian interest involved, this Government has not failed in any way to make the sentiment of the American people understood and to take every appropriate action. It is hardly necessary to add that we have taken proper measures for the protection of American interests.

As you are probably aware, the Executive has no authority to go beyond this and there has been no action by Congress which would justify this Government in an attempt by armed forces to pacify the Near East or to engage in acts of war in order to accomplish the results you desire with respect to the inhabitants of that territory and to determine the problems which have vexed Europe for generations. Charles E. Hughes, Secretary of State.”

Repeat this telegram, including Bishop Cannon’s message and my reply to Embassies London and Rome, High Commission, Constantinople and Legation, Athens.