The Foreign Secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (James L. Barton) to the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, Department of State (MacMurray)
[Received April 5.]
Dear Mr. MacMurray: I am grateful indeed for yours of April 1st in reply to my inquiry of the 18th March on the subject of American missionaries surrendering extra-territorial rights in China. The position which you have taken is one that I have always taken in correspondence and in discussion, namely, that no American can be half American and half not American.
When I was in Turkey many years ago I wished to set the college press in action which had been closed and sealed by the Turkish, government. I was informed that if I would forego my rights as an American citizen under the capitulations in so far as my relations to the press were concerned, they would allow me to open the press. This would have made me subject to all the Turkish laws and courts; in so far as I was related to the press as its responsible head. I [Page 604] reported the situation to Washington and received back very speedily from Secretary Blaine a statement that, as an American citizen, I had the full right to abrogate my citizenship and become a citizen of Turkey or any other country, but that the Department could not recognize my right to be in some respects an American citizen and in other respects not. In a word, I could not be part American citizen and part citizen of some other country. I am not quoting his words, but the principle is the same as that which you enunciate it seems to me.
I understand from your closing words that I am at liberty to quote from your communication to the mission boards of the United States having missionary work in China and also in substance in the article to which I referred.
I want to thank you for the clear answer to a question which has a very important bearing, I believe, on mission work in China, and I think it is unanswerable. With much appreciation [etc.]