No. 311.
Mr. Maynard to Mr. Fish.

No. 91.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that yesterday there was another change on the imperial throne.

* * * * * * *

At daybreak there was active military preparation in the street leading from the palace usually occupied by the Sultan to Stamboul, and passing the legation. Soon it was whispered there was to be a new Sultan, and in a few minutes Hamid Effendi, in a carriage followed by a retinue, drove rapidly toward the seraglio.

At noon the ships in the harbor were decorated and salvos of artillery announced the new sovereign.

Soon after sunset, Vekil Effendi, subdirector of the archives in the ministry of foreign affairs, called at the legation and presented to me in person a note from the minister of foreign affairs, and sat until I had opened and read it. The note conveys intelligence of the change and the reason for it, with a request that it be recognized by our Government. * * * * * * *

The late Sultan, Murad V, had been on the throne exactly three months, but had never been invested with the sword of Othman, a ceremony of significancy similar to the coronation usual in some other countries. Various reasons have been assigned for the delay, the generally received opinion being that His Imperial Majesty’s mental condition rendered him unfit for an occasion of such solemnity. This opinion is warranted by the note of his excellency Safvet Pasha received last evening.

In my dispatch No. 67, dated May 20, 1876, referring to the feeling of the softas toward the deceased Sultan, Abdul-Aziz, I mentioned a belief entertained by them that he had provoked his destiny by visiting the Paris Exposition of 1867 and setting his foot upon Christian soil, and added: “The same disastrous fate impends Murad Effendi, the heir apparent, who accompanied his uncle, the Sultan, to Paris. The hope of the reformers is Hamid Effendi.” When the revolution broke out which dethroned Abdul-Aziz, I could not resist the conviction that it would be completed only by the elevation of Hamid. Everything which occurred subsequently only strengthened it. Murad was placed on the throne temporarily, because he was the next in the line of the succession, and to meet in public estimation the requirements of the Moslem law, but with no intention that he should enjoy more than a temporary occupation. The question naturally arises, what is the supreme power which makes and unmakes sultans without resistance? Undoubtedly the military power. Formerly this power resided with the janizaries, and they wielded it at times with a high hand. But half a century ago the great Sultan Mahmond, by a consummate strategem and the aid of a separate military force, annihilated the janizaries, and he and his two sons after him had rest from that source of disquietude. Recently the softas for the accomplishment of their ends, gained control of the military power, by personal association with the soldiers, by enlisting themselves into the ranks, and especially by securing the aid of some of the boldest and most sagacious leaders. The war in the province offered a pretext for sending away any troops well-inclined toward the sultan, and, when the blow was struck, he was powerless to avert it.

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The fetvah, or authoritative sanction of the Shirkh-ul-Islam, though indispensable according to Moslem law, you will readily understand to be the least difficult part in the scheme.

The new Sultan is the second son of the late Sultan Abdul-Medjid, the nephew of Abdul-Aziz, and the brother of Murad V, and after him the oldest living male member of the reigning house of Othman. He was born in September, 1842, and is now 34 years old. Little seems to be known of him, except that he is reported to be a person of great determination and a fanatical Mussulman.

As soon as I receive the proper information I shall direct the dragoman to ask an audience of the new Sultan, and to tender him in my name, on the part of the President, suitable congratulations.

The Sultan Murad V, I believe, received none of the representatives of the foreign powers, and, though I informed the minister of foreign affairs that I had the President’s letter of credence, which I awaited His Majesty’s pleasure to deliver, no audience was granted for that purpose, and the letter remains in my hands. I presume you will transmit a similar instrument addressed to his successor.

I am, &c.,


Safvet Pacha to Mr. Maynard.

Sir: The grievous malady which afflicted the Sultan Murad Khan during the first day following his accession, and which since that time has only grown worse, renders it manifestly impossible for him to continue to hold the reins of the empire.

In consequence the throne has been declared vacant, in accordance with the fetvah issued by his highness the Shirkh-ul-Islam, and, by virtue of the laws which regulate the right of sovereignty in the empire, His Majesty the Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid II, the heir presumptive to the imperial throne, has to-day been proclaimed emperor of Turkey.

I make it my duty to promptly notify you of the accesson of his Imperial Majesty the Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid III to the throne of his ancestors, and I request you to inform the Government of the United States of America, and at the same time to transmit to it the sentiments of sincere friendship of my august master.

Accept, sir, the assurance of my high consideration.