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American missionary establishment at Oroomiah, thanking me for the orders which I had procured from the Persian Government, as reported in my dispatch No. 9, of the 21st January, forbidding all persecution of converts from Judaism to Christianity.
Mr. Labaree bas requested me to convey to Her Majesty's Government, on the part of the American missionaries, the expression of their gratitude for the important communication made by your lordship to the Persian Government on their behalf during the recent Kurdish disturbances in Oroomiah, the support thus given having been of great service to them, and having relieved them of much anxiety.
The regulatious (Kitabcheh) for the treatment of the Nestorians at Oroomiah, to which Mr. Labaree refers in the second paragraph of his letter, are those which were forwarded by the Persian minister for foreign affairs to the authorities in Tabreez before their purport was communicated to me. These regulations were subsequently revised and modified, as I had the honor to inform your lordship in my dispatch No. 23, of the 13th February, in which I reported the arrangements made with the Persian Government for redressing the grievances of the Nestorian community in this country. I have, &c..
RONALD F. THOMSON.
(Inclosure 2 in Sir Edward Thornton's note to Mr. Blaine.)
Mr. Lebarre to Mr. Thomson.
OROOMIAH, February 16, 1881. DEAR SIR: By our last mail I received from Mr. Abbott two orders obtained by yourself from the Persian foreign office, forbidding all prosecution of converts from Judaisin to Christianity in Oroomiah and Kurdistan. Allow me to express the sincere thanks of myself and colleagues for your able service to the cause of religious liberty in Persia by the procuring of these important orders, as well as for the promptness of your action on the presentation of the case to your notice.
Such a concession of entire religious freedom to all non-Moslem sects is in striking contrast with the condition of affairs in the country twenty-five years ago, when even Nestorians were beaten and imprisoned for adherence to evangelical teachings. Certainly we are encouraged to hope there may be still further progress mado in this direction.
We are quite surprised to learn that the new serparest mirza, Hashem Khan, has just received a new “Kitabcheh "* from the foreign office quite hostile to our work. He holds it in abeyance, at the suggestion of the Nasseer-el-Mulk, until it is seen how matters turn in Teheran; but it is intimated to us that the new orders greatly restrict our schools and forbid our teaching religion. This, if carried out, will be an amazing step backwards. Our schools were never more popular than this winter. More than 1,600 pupils are in attendance, against about 1,300 last year.
I embrace this opportunity to convey the thanks of the missionaries in Oroomiah to the British Government and yourself, for the important communication made through you by Earl Granville to the Persian Government in our behalf dnring the recent disturbances in this province. The friendly support of our own and the British Government at that juncture was of great service to us and lifted a heavy load of anxiety from us. We are deeply grateful for the kindness done us. The Sepah Salar showed us marked courtesy, as has done his brother, the Nasseer-el-Mulk. The latter desires to be remembered to you. In behalf of the American missionaries. Very truly yours,
Mr. Foster to Mr. Blaine.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
St. Petersburg, May 21, 1881. (Received June 10.) SIR: Reciprocating a visit which had been made to the legation on yesterday, I called upon his highness Siépehsalar-Azam-Hadji-MirzaHoussein-Khan, ambassador extraordinary of the Shah of Persia, sent to congratulate the Emperor of Russia on his accession to the throne.
In the course of the conversation which ensued, the prince expressed regret that the United States did not maintain some kind of official relations with Persia, notwithstanding a treaty of friendship and commerce existed contemplating such relations. He said that American vessels visited Persian ports, and there were American citizens in the country, and that a chargé d'affaires could be maintained at no great expense, as living was very cheap in Teheran.
I replied that I recognized the desirability of having more intimate relations with his country, and I would suggest to my government the propriety of taking some action to that end. I said that I desired him, on his return to Persia, to express to His Majesty the Shah my thanks, as the diplomatic representative of my government nearest to his dominions, for the protection and favor which had been extended to the American citizens resident in his territory, and to assure His Majesty that all his acts in that direction would be highly gratifying to the Government of the United States.
The prince stated that the American missionàries in Persia, who constituted the greater portion of our citizens in that country, had been charged with complicity with the Turks during the recent Kurdish troubles, and that he had been appointed by his government to investigate the charge, which he had found to be without foundation, and he had thus been able to vindicate them from what would have proven a serious offense.
I expressed my gratification at this result, and assured him that such charges did not comport with the character and usual conduct of American missionaries, who were accustomed to loyally respect the authorities and observe the laws of the countries in which they resided. In this connection it may be proper to remark that when I passed through London a year ago, on my way to my present post, I met in St. James Palace the Persian minister to Great Britain, who expressed the same wish, that our government would send a representative to his country. I have been informed that when the Shah was in the city some years ago, in an interview with the then consul-general at St. Petersburg, he also manifested a similar desire. From all these utterances I have no doubt that a representative of our government would receive a hearty welcome.
Our commercial relations with Persia at present are very limited, but it might offer something of a field for American enterprise if properly encouraged. As already mentioned, the missionaries established there are the chief American residents needing official protection, and in the absence of which they have, I believe, had resort to the English diplomatic and consular representatives. Should it not be deemed practicable to establish a permanent representative in the country, it might be regarded as desirable by the Department to have either the minister at St. Petersburg or at Constantinople, at some convenient time, pay a visit to the Shah at Teheran as the bearer of a letter from the President. I think that such a visit would have a beneficial effect in securing more protection to American residents, who are often exposed to great peril, and might lead to the opening of some commercial relations or the introduction of American enterprises. I have no doubt that either the Russian or the Turkish Government would lend its good offices to the Amer: ican representative, by securing a safe passage to and a friendly reception at Teheran. I am, sir, &c.,
JOHN W. FOSTER.
Mr. Blaine to Mr. Daves.
WASHINGTON, May 26, 1881. SIR: Referring to your letter of the 20th of November last, to my predecessor, asking this Department to interpose for the protection of certain American missionaries in the province of Oroomiah, in Persia, and referring, also, to the subsequent correspondence on the same sub ject, I now have the honor to inclose herewith, for your information, a copy of a note from Sir Edward Thornton, the British minister at this capital, transmitting for the information of this government a copy of a dispatch to Earl Granville by Her Majesty's minister to Persia, accompanied by a copy of a letter to the latter from the American missionaries at Oroomiah, Persia. I have the honor, &c.,
JAMES G. BLAINE. (For inclosure, Sir Edward Thornton's note of May 19, 1881, vide ante,
Mr. Blaine to Mr. Foster.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, June 21, 1881. SIR: I have received your No. 118, of the 21st ultimo, in which you apprise the department of the desire of Persia, expressed to you on certain occasions by high officials of the Shah's government, to receive a diplomatic representative of the United States at Teheran, and observe that special encouragement might increase our commerce with Persia.
Your suggestion, that should it not be deemed practicable, to establish a permanent representative in the country it might be regarded as desirable by the Department to have either the minister at St. Petersburg or at Constantinople, at some convenient
, time, pay a visit to the Shah at Teheran, as the bearer of a letter from the President,” is a pertinent one, and will receive due consideration with the general subject of your dispatch.
It does not appear from your communication that the government of the Shah has contemplated the accrediting of a diplomatic representative to the United States. I am, sir, &c.,
JAMES G. BLAINE.
[Memorandum furnished to Mr. Frelinghuysen by the British minister.] Substance of correspondence relative to the attendance of Mussulmans at
religious services held by the American missionaries established at Teheran.
In consequence of a communication from the Persian ambassador at Constantinople to his government, the Shah caused inquiry to be made
as to whether proselytism among Mohammedans was included in the labors of the American missionaries at Teheran, and finding the Mohammedans were in the habit of attending religious services, His Majesty gave orders to his minister of foreign affairs and the head of the police that
any Mohammedan found hereafter attending such services should be arrested and punished, it being his determination that, while allowing entire freedom in religious matters to all non-Mohammedan communities in Persia, not to tolerate any interference with the religious belief of his Mohammedan subjects.
In consequence of a memorandum on this subject sent by the minister for foreign affairs to Her Majesty's minister, Mr. Thomson addressed a letter to the Rev. Mr. Potter, informing him of the nature of this communication, to which Mr. Potter replied, stating that he had issued orders to the effect that no Mussulman should be allowed to attend his religious services. It would appear, however, that a meeting of the American missionaries was subsequently held, at which it was decided that they ought not to, and cannot prevent the attendance of Mussulmans at religious services, based upon the obligation imposed upon them to obey God rather than man, and to answer all who sincerely seek to know the way of life. The result of the meeting was communicated to Mr. Thomson, in a letter signed by Messrs. Basset, Wilson, and Cochran, to which he replied, expressing his regret that, notwithstanding the order of the Persian Government above referred to, and communicated to Mr. Potter, and the directions issued in consequence by that gentleman, they should seek to rescind them, and that he considered that by doing so they incurred a grave responsibility. He begged them to bear in mind that Mussulmans were Persian subjects and amenable to the laws of their country; that they would therefore render themselves liable to punishment by attending religious service, and that it was in consequence a serious matter to allow them to do so; and he added that he thought it his duty to warn them that, should the missionaries allow Mussulmans to attend religious services, they imperil their own position in the country and perhaps be forbidden to reside in Persia.
Her Majesty's Government have thought that the United States Gov. ernment would be glad to be informed of what has taken place, more especially as American subjects in Teheran are under British protection.
Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Lowell.
MARCH 23, 1882. LOWELL, Minister, London:
Mr. West has informed me that the Shah of Persia would not tolerate any interference by the missionaries with the religious belief of his Mohammedan subjects, and that the American missionaries were disposed not to abide by this decision. Her Majesty's Government evi. dently was of opinion that the position, and perhaps the safety, of the missionaries would be imperilled by this step. As the protector of Americans in Persia, it felt it its duty to inform this government of what had taken place. I asked Mr. West to thank Lord Granville for the communication. Feeling sure that Her Majesty's representatives would continue to render to the missionaries all the protection in their
power, I waited for further intelligence. Having received nothing further, I am induced to hope that nothing further has happened. The friends of the missionaries continue anxious; and I shall be greatly obliged if Lord Granville will kindly give you any later intelligence which may have come to him about this subject.
Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Lowell.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, March 25, 1882. SIR: Referring to your No. 148, and to the Department's No. 145 to you, and other correspondence relating to the American missionaries in Persia, I have now to inclose copies of a memorandum furnished me by Mr. West, some days since, and of a telegram which I sent you on the 23d instant.
I earnestly hope that the conclusion which we derive from the fact that no further intelligence has been received, that the crisis has passed and that the missionaries are no longer in danger, may prove to be well founded.
The points which they have selected for their self-sacrificing work are distant, and we have no diplomatic representative in Persia, and the means in the hands of the Executive in case of an emergency would be of little avail. We appreciate the good will which prompts Great Britain to extend its protection over the missionaries. We hope that it will not be withdrawn; and I shall counsel the friends of the missionaries to endeavor to induce them not to strain the good will of Her Majesty's Government by any extreme act which may make an efficient protection difficult. I am, sir, &c.,
FRED'K T. FRELINGHUYSEN. (Inclosures:) 1. Copy of memorandum as above; 2. Copy of telegram as above, dated March 23, 1882.
H. Ex. 151 -3