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· ATTITUDE OF COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT TOWARD UNITED
STATES MISSIONARY SCHOOLS.a
Mr. Hart to Mr. Hlay. No. 732.]
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
Bogotá, March 2, 1903. SIR: I have the honor to inclose copies and translation of correspondence passed between this legation and the Colombian foreign office, copies of two letters addressed to this legation by the principal of the American School for Boys, located at this capital, and copies of communications addressed to those principals by the ministry of public instruction, in the matter of the reopening, after the usual vacation, of the American School for Boys and the American School for Girls, both established in this city.
The schools in question are conducted by missionaries under the auspices of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions established in the city of New York. The principals of these institutions are citizens of the United States—persons of good character and of good standing in this community.
* It should be added that the two American schools in this city are going ahead as usual, the school for boys prospering as never before. In Medellin and Barranquilla are schools under the same auspices.
The translation of the answers of the minister of public instruction to the memorials of the principals of the schools will be found in the translation of the foreign office note of January 17. I am, etc.,
CHARLES BURDETT HART.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
Bogotá, January 8, 1903. SIR: Ag your excellency is aware, the American School for Boys and the American School for Girls are institutions of learning long established at this capital and are presided over by citizens of the United States of America.
The principals of these schools, desiring according to custom, to reopen them in the present year after the usual holiday season, and in view of the decree of December 31, 1901, issued by the ministry of public instruction, presented to that ministry on the 2d day of December, 1902, their memorials in due form asking the required permission. The requests not having been granted, the principal of the American School for Boys called at the ministry of public instruction on the 3d day, and again on the 5th day of the present month, and was informed that the said memorials will be answered about the middle of the present month in a general resolution covering all such applications.
It does not seem that any consideration of the public welfare makes necessary a longer delay, which, up to this time, has not permitted the principals of the schools
a See Foreign Relations, 1902, p. 293.
in question to make the necessary arrangements and public announcements for the school year about to begin. For example, the said principals have not felt at liberty to engage teachers, because they have not yet received official permission to continue the lawful business in which they have been occupied.
Since these schools were very properly allowed to continue in operation through the civil war in Colombia, now happily ended, it may be taken for granted that there is no intention on the part of your excellency's Government to treat them with less consideration now. This being true, I trust that your excellency's Government. may be pleased to cause to be answered, without further delay, the respectful memorials of the American School for Boys and the American School for Girls, filed more than a month ago. I improve this opportunity to renew, etc.,
CHARLES BURDETT Hart.
Bogotá, January 17, 1903. Sır: In a communication bearing date the 15th instant my honorable colleague of the ministry of public instruction, who was advised of the contents of the polite note of the 8th instant which your excellency was pleased to address in the matter of the permission asked by the principals of the American School for Boys and the American School for Girls to open their respective establishments, tells me that the matter was determined on the said 15th instant in the following manner:
“In view of the memorial addressed to the ministry of public instruction by Mr. Malbone W. Graham requesting permission to open in this city the American School for boys.
“Considering that article 38 of the present constitution declares that only the Roman Catholic Apostolic religion is the religion of the country, which religion the public authorities shall protect as an essential element of social order.
“On the other hand, if the same fundamental law permits the exercise of all forms of worship not contrary to Christian morals nor to the laws, worship or the series of acts of adoration of the Divinity must not be confounded with the propaganda and teaching of a religious system.
“If it be held that establishing Protestant schools is establishing an industry, it must be remembered also that these industries and the professions will be inspected in their relation to morality, safety, and public health, and that the teaching of doctrines opposed to the Roman Catholic doctrines engenders the social evil of opposition in the minds of citizens and incites division in the country, which brings, clearly, pernicious consequences.
“These statements are proved by the knowledge which the ministry has of the mockery by pupils of the American school of acts of the Roman Catholic worship.
“In the first three articles of the Concordat, which is the law of the Republic, are rather amplified the obligations of the state toward the church, whose canonical legislation is to be respected by the authorities.
"Finally, in view of the foregoing considerations, and in order to leave intact the toleration of individual ideas and paternal rights,
“The ministry resolves:
“The Protestant schools are permitted to open as private establishments in which instruction may be given to the children of Protestant persons, but it will not be per. mitted to give them the character of public schools by means of advertisements nor in any other similar manner.” With this I beg, etc.,
FELIPE F. PAÚL.
Bogotá, January 19, 1903. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your excellency's polite note of the 17th instant, replying to mine of the 8th instant, in the matter of the reopening of the two institutions of learning known, respectively, as the "American School for Girls" and the “American School for Boys," both established at this capital. In the note which I have the honor to acknowledge your excellency is pleased to
embody the answer of the ministry of public instruction to the memorial of the principal of the American Schools for Boys. The answer of the ministry of public instruction to the memorial of the principal of the American School for Girls, a copy of which is in the possession of this legation, is identical with the answer kindly sent to me by your excellency.
Your excellency will permit me to say, with due respect, that these answers have surprised me beyond expression, not alone by reason of the peculiar conditions imposed, but even more on account of the spirit therein shown as animating the new policy which it has been determined to apply to these institutions.
The resolution of the ministry of public instruction, in answer to the memorials of the principals of the schools in question, reads as follows: “The Protestant schools may be opened as private establishments in which the children of Protestants may be taught, but it will not be permitted to give them the character of public schools by means of public notices nor in any other similar manner.”
"The American School for Girls has been in operation for more than thirty years, the American School for Boys for twelve years, and not until now has either of these schools been forbidden by the Government of the Republic to announce publicly, by printed advertisement or otherwise, the fact of its existence and its readiness to receive pupils. Nor, hitherto, has the Government of the Republic sought to restrict to the children of Protestants" the youth who might be admitted as pupils in those institutions.
The resolution giving permission to reopen the schools confines their possible clientage to persons of the Protestant faith. Instruction may be given to “children of Protestants" only. If the principals of these schools were willing to erect themselves into so many inquisitorial tribunals to discover the religious belief of every parent or guardian presenting a child for admission, the answers to their inquiries might be untruthful. Persons not Protestants might declare themselves to be Protestants for the purpose of evading the prohibition of the ministry of public instruction. Who would be held responsible for the deception, the principal of the school or the parent of the child? This exaction is burdensome, unreasonable, and unjust, and any effort of the principals of the schools to draw around their institutions the dead line of exclusion on account of religious belief would be as humiliating as, probably, it would be futile. The right to put this burden upon citizens of the United States of America occupied in, or who desire to occupy themselves in, teaching in Colombia, can not be admitted.
The resolution of the ministry of public instruction forbids, in the most comprehensive way, any and all public announcements concerning these institutions, and this because it will not be permitted to give them the character of public schools." I do not understand that public notice makes a public school, within the ordinary acceptation of the term “public school," any more than the lack of public notice would convert a public school into a priyate school. The purpose of the prohibition is clearer than its logic.
The directors of these schools have no desire that their institutions be considered as public schools in the sense of forming part of the system of instruction provided by, or especially encouraged by, the State. The desire of these citizens of the United States of America is to continue the lawful business in which they are engaged and with no more hindrance than their respective institutions were subjected to before it was resolved to discriminate against these schools on account of the religious belief of those who conduct them; and this is their right according to the treaty of peace, amity, navigation, and commerce between the Republic of Colombia and the United States of America.
By Article XIV of the treaty it is especially agreed that “the citizens of the United States residing in the territories of the Republic of New Grenada shall enjoy the most perfect and entire security of conscience, without being annoyed, prevented, or disturbed on account of their religious belief.” The foregoing provision, in connection with that of Article XIII of the same treaty—“Both contracting parties promise and engage formally to give their special protection to the persons and property of the citizens of each other, of all occupations, who may be in their territories subject to the jurisdiction of one or the other”-makes clear the fact that the resolution of the ministry of public instruction does not take into account the treaty obligations which apply directly and unmistakably to the case. As I read the constitution of the Republic of Colombia, it is in accord with the treaty guaranties above cited.
I would be glad to be informed by your excellency whether the above-quoted resolution of the ministry of public instruction represents correctly the present attitude of the Government of the Republic in respect of the schools in question and of all other institutions of learning within the Republic of Colombia conducted by citizens of the United States of America who do not profess the Roman Catholic Apostolic religion. I shall feel honored to have opportunity to include your excelency's reply in the correspondence relating to this matter, copies of which correspondence I shall transmit to my Government at the earliest opportunity.
Meanwhile I expressly reserve to Miss Jessie Scott, principal of the American School for Girls, and to the Rev. Malbone W. Graham, principal of the American School for Boys, citizens of the United States of America, all the rights that they, or either of them, may have in the premises. I embrace this opportunity, etc.,
Chas. BURDETT HART.
Bogotá, February 23, 1903. EXCELLENCY: I beg to call your excellency's attention to my note of January 19, 1903, addressed to his excellency Dr. Felipe F. Paúl, minister for foreign affairs of the Republic of Colombia.
In that note I had the honor to ask whether a certain resolution of the ministry of public instruction, communicated to this legation by his excellency the minister for foreign affairs, under date of January 17, 1903, “represents correctly the present attitude of the Government of the Republic in respect of the schools in question and of all other institutions of learning within the Republic of Colombia conducted by citizens of the United States of America who do not profess the Roman Catholic Apostolic religion."
I shall appreciate the courtesy of a reply to my note in question. . I embrace, etc.,
Chas. BURDETT HART.
Bogotá, February 2, 1905. HONORABLE AND Dear Sir: On Tuesday afternoon, January 27, you informed me that the vice-president of the Republic of Colombia had promised you that the two American schools of this city would be granted an unconditional permission to open for the current school year. At 10 o'clock on Wednesday, the 28th, I had an interview with the minister of public instruction at his office, and stated to him that you had informed me that such permission would be granted to us upon returning to the ministry the answers originally given to our petitions. The minister said that we had already received permission to open. I replied that the permission given was accompanied by conditions that were inconvenient and unbearable, and that the promise of Vice-President Marroquin was that the permission should be entirely free from restrictions. The minister then told me to present the answers to the subsecretary, and ask him to put the original petitions in the course of business to be dispatched on Thursday, and that the answers to be given us would clear up the subject. At 1 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon I delivered to the subsecretary the answers as sent, and told him of the minister's order. I asked him to prepare the business that day, if possible, to which he replied that he must follow the minister's instructions.
On Friday, January 30, I arrived at the minister's office at 10.15 a. m., and after twenty minutes' waiting saw the minister, who stated that he had spent the whole of the preceding day, since 8 a. m., in the cabinet meeting, and consequently had been unable to attend to the matter, and asked me to return for the answers on Saturday afternoon. At 3.30 p. m. on Saturday I presented myself at the office of the minister, who expressed surprise that the answers were not ready, and gave as an excuse a lack of paper on which to prepare the replies. He said the replies would be given at once if two sheets of stamped paper were brought for the purpose.
Upon leaving the office to purchase the paper I met the subsecretary, who assured me that the cause of the delay was the failure of the minister to dictate the answers. I was told that the answers would be ready next Tuesday. I then purchased the stamped paper and left it with the doorkeeper, as the subsecretary had suggested.
The delays seem to be uncalled for, and we have therefore published our announcements and shall open the schools to-morrow. Respectfully, yours,
MALBONE W. GRAHAM.
Bogotá, February 6, 1903. HONORABLE AND DEAR SIR: I beg to inform you that on Tuesday, February 3, I went to the ministry of public instruction to receive the answer promised me." The hour was 3.45 p, m., but the subsecretary had gone, and I was told that the minister was not there, although some people were waiting to see him, and I had found him at the same hour on other occasions. The doorkeeper suggested that the best time was between 8.30 and 9 a. m. On Wednesday, at 8:45, I found the subsecretary, who told me that the minister had not come to the department for a day or two, and hence the answer was not ready. A well-known official of one of the other departments told me that the minister had left the office at 5 p. m. on Tuesday.
On Thursday morning I again visited the office, and upon inquiring of the subsecretary as to the progress of my affair, I was told that it had been attended to, that the minister had said that nothing more was necessary, and that I was entitled to have my papers returned to me. After withdrawing, I examined the papers, and found that the stamped paper had not been used, but that the answer originally given had been amended by striking out certain words and inserting others, but that the sense had not been altered, and therefore the subject had not been made clearer or more satisfactory.
I am, therefore, left in doubt as to the status of the case. Either I have an answer to my petition, in which event the decision of the ministry remains the same.as before, or I have no answer, in which case I lack the written permission promised by the vice-president of the Republic. I think that we are, in justice, entitled to the distinct and full permission in due form. Respectfully, yours,
MALBONE W. GRAHAM.
Mr. Hay to Mr. Beaupré. No. 8.]
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, May 4, 1903. Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of Mr. Hart's No. 732, of March 2 last, reporting the attitude of the Colombian Government in regard to the American schools in Bogota.
You will continue to act in the same line as your predecessor in endeavoring to obtain the just recognition of the American schools. I am, etc.,
MOB ATTACKS ON SYRIANS, NATURALIZED CITIZENS OF THE
Mr. Beaupré to Mr. Hay. No. 131.]
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
Bogotá, September 8, 1903., Sir: I have the honor to report that during the last year or so there has been growing in this Republic a great hostility toward the Syrians, “Turks," as they are generally known. About a year ago there was a hostile demonstration made against them at Girardot, resulting in the destruction of considerable property.
There are about 1,800 Syrians in Colombia, located in the various centers of trade, and by their energy and business capacity they have succeeded in controlling a vast amount of traffic. It is their keen business qualifications which has caused the enmity of Colombian merchants, for their methods secured the trade as against Colombian competition.
Some of these Syrians are American citizens, by naturalization, but I have not been called upon to intervene in their behalf until recently.