No. 308.
Mr. Maynard to Mr. Fish.

No. 86.]

Sir: It seems proper for a full and complete history of the recent unhappy occurrences in Salonica to transmit my latest dispatches from the United States consular agent there. The first is official, dated June 21, 1876, some three weeks after the accession of the new Sultan. The second and third are marked personal, and I transcribe only those portions which are of a public nature.

Appearances are very unfavorable. There is evidently a very bad spirit abroad. Especially is this manifest ever since England has seemed to be at variance with the other European powers. While what are known as the guaranteeing powers were agreed in their eastern policy, a very different tone of feeling prevailed throughout the empire. Whatever may have been the intent in sending into these waters the enormous British fleet now in Besika Bay, it is undoubtedly a great moral support to the sentiment at this moment prevailing in Turkey.

Ever since the revolution outlined in my dispatches Nos. 66 and 67, of May last, the Turkish armies have been constantly and rapidly recruited, and that in the prevailing name of Islam. The recruits are gathered very largely from Asia, and from the most fanatical portion of the Mussulman population; and, to show the sort of appeals made to them, I inclose a copy of the translation of a vizierial proclamation hung up in the streets of Aintab, furnished by the United States consular agent of that city.

I have, &c.,

[Page 574]

Dispatch from Mr. Lazzaro to Mr. Maynard.

No. 68.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s dispatch dated June 3, 1876, No. 84, by the contents of which I feel happy to see that your excellency is convinced of my being entirely clear of all responsibility for the tragedy at Salonica, and has promised to write to that effect to the Department of State.

The commission which had arrived from Constantinople in order to investigate into the case of the murder of the two consuls and execute punishment upon the instigators and perpetrators of the atrocious deed, was composed of Bachan Effendi, imperial commissioner; Eshrif Pasha, present governor-general of Salonica; Mr. Robert and Mr. Gillett, delegates of the French and German consulates; and one of the dragomans of the German legation, Br. Blunt; and Mr. Foscarini on the part of the consular body. This commission sat on duty about thirty-three days. The investigation, being privately carried on, have not been communicated to the consular corps. A list of some of the judgments and condemnations which were notified to the consular corps by Mr. Foscarini I had the honor to send to your excellency in a previous dispatch. A few days before the departure of the commission for the capital, it had been re-enforced by a large body of military officers of high rank, who were sent from Constantinople in order to hold a court-martial and judge the conduct of Rufet Pasha, ex-governor-general of Salonica, and the other military officers that had been on duty during the perpetration of the crime. After a great deal of disputing and squabbling between the commission and the court-martial, the latter sentenced the ex-governor-general to one year’s suspension from office, and loss of pay for fautes graves. The ex-chief of police to degradation and one year’s imprisonment for delit. Two other officers were sentenced for forty-five days’ arrest and one year’s suspension from office. Considering the immense responsibility that weighed upon all these functionaries, and the entire want of action that characterized the conduct of the ex-governor-general and the rest of the officers, not to speak of the grave faults that public opinion justly attributes to them, the sentence of the court-martial was lenient to the extreme. The commission itself, finding it quite disproportional to what it ought to have been, proposed its reversion. The Porte, having been consulted on the subject, decided upon the removal of the whole court to Constantinople, where it is to be hoped a final and satisfactory arrangement will be obtained. Yesterday, the 20th instant, all the prisoners condemned by the commission, some to exile and others to penal servitude of years or for life, according to the culpability of each individual, were sent to Vidin, from where they will be distributed to their respective destinations. On the whole, the action of the commission appears to have fallen short in the realization of its object, which, according to public opinion, ought to have been the infliction of a more severe punishment upon the ex-governor-general and the rest of the officials in whose presence the atrocious deed was perpetrated, and who did nothing to avert it, or protect the unfortunate victims.

From the twelve persons condemned to death six have met with capital punishment, and the other six are awaiting in prison here the final decision from Constantinople respecting their destiny.

The news of the dethronement of the Sultan Aziz and the succession of Sultan Murad to the vacant throne was joyfully received in this place by the whole population. The state of the government and affairs in general all over the country had come to such a pass that any change would have been most welcome. The enthusiasm occasioned by this event was great at first, and high hopes were entertained by all classes of the inhabitants respecting the future reforms so much desired and needed through the country. This enthusiasm has now partly abated, and varied are the opinions with which the different races that are interested in them view the constitution that is to contain them. The Christians, depressed and weighed down by the oppression of the late government, can scarcely realize the hope of seeing a change so beneficial to their condition, while the Turks, still in bad humor and discontented with the actual state of their affairs and with a pending war over their heads, can scarcely be expected to view in a favorable light the reforms that the force of circumstances and Europe is wresting from them. Great disorders continue to take place in the interior, owing to the passage of the recruits and the number of freebooters with whom the country is now swarming. Brigandage has increased, and highway robberies and assassinations are of daily occurrence in the interior.

The accounts from Bulgaria state that very great has been the loss of life and property in that unfortunate province during the suppression of the revolts, and terrible are the atrocities said to have been perpetrated by a reckless and barbarous soldiery on the defenseless women and children. Some of these soldiers, returning from there to Uskub, are said to have driven before them a herd of young girls, whom they were [Page 575] selling in the towns for ten piasters apiece. Twenty-four other Bulgarian girls were also brought as slaves into a village in the district of Salonica. The authorities, however, having received notice of this, have, I believe, taken some measures to have the girls restored. The authorities everywhere in the interior appear to have received orders to disarm the Christians, while the Turks are allowad to bear arms freely, even in the very towns. The disarming of the Christian population on the part of the Turks may be a precautionary measure, but to enforce it in the way it is done just now, and before the government itself is able to execute its laws or guarantee the safety of the people, it cannot be considered otherwise but unjustifiable and unfair. The poor peasantry, terrified by exaggerated reports of massacres and wrongs daily received by their oppressive masters, are in a pitiable state of anxiety and disquietude. Helpless in their condition, and justly distrustful in the protection they ought to receive from the authorities, they feel themselves at the mercy of a discontented and excited Mahometan population that might at any time crush them without pity.

In conclusion, from all I hear and see, I fear there is a great deal of ill-humor and excitement among the Turks, especially in the interior, and if the new government does not take prompt and decisive measures to put down this evident ill-disposition on the part of the Turks toward the Christians, much misery and even bloodshed will be the consequence.

* * * * * * *

I have, &c.,

United States Consular Agent.