Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 1, 1890
Mr. Pratt to Mr. Blaine.
Teheran, June 3, 1890. (Received July 12.)
Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 458 of the 27th ultimo, I have the honor to report that I have just received a letter from Her Britannic Majesty’s consul-general, Col. C. E. Stewart, informing me of the active steps he had taken to secure the arrest of the Armenian, Minas, who made the murderous assault upon Mrs. Wright on the 14th of last month, and also a letter from Mrs. Wright’s husband, the Rev. John N. Wright, giving in minute detail an account of the said incident.
Copies of the letters above mentioned I herewith respectfully submit for your consideration, with copies of my answers to the same, which I trust will meet with your approval.[Page 662]
At my request the prime minister, His Highness the Eminé Soultan, has appointed this afternoon to see me in regard to the affair in question, when I shall repeat to him the contents of the aforesaid communications and request that the accused criminal be taken, under strong military escort, to the capital of the province, Tabreez, there to be tried in the presence of Consul-General Stewart, who, I will inform him, is designated to act as my representative at the trial to ensue.
I have, etc.,
Colonel Stewart to Mr. Pratt.
Dear Mr. Pratt: Excuse my writing you on this paper and in an unofficial form, but lam at Ooroomeeyah and just before the post went out received a telegram from the governor of Salmas telling me that the assassin of Mrs. Wright has been arrested by the governor’s men and is being brought to Salmas. The missionaries themselves had promised a reward of 25 tomans for the capture of the man, but I also furnished 25 tomans more, as I thought it necessary to stimulate the zeal of the men sent in pursuit of the assassin.
Before I had arrived at Salmas the governor had done nothing. It is true he was absent some 13 miles from the town of Dilman, which is the headquarters of the Salmas district.
I at once rode off 13 miles to the governor, woke him out of his sleep, and got him to go into the mountains with me to follow out a trace of the assassin which I had obtained.
It was too late then, as the man had escaped 4 days previously, to arrest the assassin, but I had a very rough and hot ride and showed the governor that I was really in earnest about the matter.
The trace I had obtained through the missionaries was duly followed up and has finally led to the capture of the man.
After I had seen him the governor did exert himself to capture the man.
I have written to the authorities in Tabreez informing them of the capture of the assassin.
Mrs. Wright, though not even now out of danger, is likely to recover. On the 21st it was feared she would die, but she rallied.
As I am absent from Tabreez on business here, I would ask that you should take what steps you may consider necessary to obtain due punishment of the man. I shall, I hope, be back in Tabreez by about the 10th or 11th of June and shall be happy to do whatever you may wish about seeing that the man receives such punishment as you may desire.
Orders must, I think, come from Teheran about the case.
I think the prompt measures I took for the arrest of the attempted assassin and the interest I showed in the matter will insure protection to the missionaries for the future.
Now remains the question of what punishment the assassin should receive from the Persian authorities.
Mr. Wright to Mr. Pratt.
Dear Sir: On the 14th instant, at 3.30 p.m., a dastardly attempt was made to assassinate my wife.
Minas, the would-be murderer, who came here from Ooroomeeyah, and is a graduate of our college there, had been teaching the school in this village for us the past winter. Last fall we gave him a room in our house, as he was a stranger and came to us well recommended. But, finding in the course of time that he and our maidservant were [Page 663] too intimate (though we had no idea that they were criminally so at that time), we removed him from our yard in February last to a room in an adjoining yard belonging to our premises. But Minas still found a way to get with Asli, our maidservant, when we sent her out to walk with the children or on our roof. We rebuked her for thus allowing him to follow her everyplace. Still, we had no definite idea of any criminal intercourse between them.
But on the night of the 13th instant, at 11 p.m., my wife awoke, and, finding our maid was not in the adjoining room with our little boy, she began to look about the house for her and finally found Asli coming up the stairs from the yard.
Mrs. Wright, suspecting Asli and Minas had been there together, watched his way to his room (which she could do from our bed-room window). Before long Minas passed from our yard through a gate which was in the wall between our yard and his, having in some way found a key which would unlock the padlock on it.
Mrs. Wright called to him twice, but he slipped rapidly along our wall and soon disappeared in his yard.
This made it evident to us that the teacher and Asli had been living immoral lives. So next day, after seeing Mr. Mechlin, we decided to dismiss him at once.
About 3.30 p.m. I called him to our dining room and told him why we dismissed him. Mrs. Wright and another woman were in the room, the former cutting out a frock for Jennie, our daughter.
There was nothing unusual in Minas’s appearance. He took his dismissal as a matter of course, and asked me if I would pay him the balance due on his wages and horse hire to Ooroomeeyah.
“Certainly,” I replied, and arose and went into an adjoining room to get the money. But scarcely had I shut down the open safe when I heard heartrending screams. My brother-in-law, who happened to be present with me, and I at once rushed into the dining room.
To our utter amazement we found Minas had attempted to murder my wife and was just fleeing from the door opposite us.
Mrs. Wright, as she cut the garment, had her left shoulder turned towards Minas, who sat on a divan on the opposite side of the room.
As soon as I was fairly out of the room, without a word, he suddenly sprang upon Mrs. Wright and with a dagger, which he at the same moment drew from his sleeve, he first attacked her at the left side of the spinal column, piercing into her left lung. As Mrs. Wright began to turn toward him, he let the next blow fall on top of her left shoulder, cutting an artery, from which the blood spurted as from a fountain. As she turned still further, he attempted to cut her throat, but only succeeded in making an upward cut under her jaw, near the base of the tongue. Twice more he struck, but, Mrs. Wright being now fully turned toward him, one blow struck her in the right wrist and the other in the back of the right hand, inflicting fearful wounds. This was all done so quickly that, although we ran for the door the moment we heard the screams, it was all finished before we entered the room.
As Minas descended the stairs he met our gatekeeper running toward them, and, making a thrust at him with his dagger, passed and went out of the yard gate.
I at once gave word to the villagers to arrest him, through the said gatekeeper and my brother-in-law, and, leaving that work for them, we gave ourselves at once to the more necessary work of caring for Mrs. Wright. So profuse was the flow of blood that before I could tear open her clothes and close the two wounds in her back and shoulder she had little left in her. I held these gashes shut for upward of half an hour before Mr. Mechlin arrived; then we sewed these two up as best we could and fastened all with court-plaster. She was so faint we did not think it best to attempt to sew up the other wounds, so we fastened them as best we could with court-plaster and bandages.
To add to the difficulty, Mrs. W. showed every symptom of having a miscarriage; indeed, this seemed the greatest danger of all.
We telegraphed at once to Ooroomeeyah for a doctor, but for various causes it was 2 full days before Dr. Samuel, a Nestorian physician, arrived. During all this time Mrs. Wright’s wounds had not been properly dressed or bandaged, because none of us had had any experience in such matters before.
You can better imagine than realize the anxious suspense we were in during this time. During the week which has passed since the calamity Mrs. Wright has suffered greatly, and still remains so very weak that she may die any day.
The shock which her nervous system sustained is so great that it greatly complicates matters. At the same time that we sent the telegram to Ooroomeeyah for a doctor (i. e., within an hour after the assassination) we gave word in Dilman to the governor of Salmas, Hadji Khan, or rather to his son, Aziz Khan, who was “naibi hukuveat” in his father’s temporary absence at Charu, 3 hours’ ride distant.
The naibi hukuveat excused himself by saying it was fast time, and the men could not leave until they had eaten in the evening, and that his father had taken most of them away anyhow.[Page 664]
On hearing this reply I sent the same man again, hut he found the naibi’s door shut up, and no one would answer his call.
It went on thus from Wednesday, the 14th, at 4 p.m., till Sunday, 18th, and the authorities did absolutely nothing to arrest the murderer.
We offered a reward of 25 tomans soon after the crime was committed for the arrest of the perpetrator, but nothing was done.
On Saturday, the 17th, very providentially, Her Britannic Majesty’s consul-general, Col. C. E. Stewart, who happened to be on his way to Ooroomeeyah, stopped at my house to remain with us on the Sabbath.
On hearing the news of the crime and the neglect of the Government to do anything toward arresting Minas, he was much moved and at once sent a note to the naibi hukuveat, with the request that he send it at once to his father in Chafu. Sunday morning the consul went himself to Charu (and got there just as his note sent the previous day did) and told Hadji Khan he must at once send to arrest that young assassin, or that he would telegraph both to you and the British minister about his negligence.
The governor, now fully scared, began at once to take vigorous measures to trace the steps of Minas. Colonel Stewart went with him in person that day to see to it. Since then Hadji Khan has been doing what he can to overtake Minas, but the 3½ days’ grace he had gave him such a start that the odds are against the governor. He has traced him up till he passed into Turkish territory, near Bârh Kalēh, and has sent a telegram and his own “filorda” (bridle holder) to Bârh Kalēh to request the Persian consul there by all means to capture him.
23d, a.m.—Word came last evening that Minas had got a passport at Bârh Kalēh for Van and had started on with an Armenian guide the day before the governor’s men arrived.
Three Persians and a servant of the Persian consul at Bârh Kalēh followed right on after him with the hope of overtaking him before he could enter Van, but I doubt if they would succeed in doing so.
Colonel Stewart offered a reward of 50 tomans and expenses of capture the day after his arrival, in addition to the 25 tomans we had offered previously.
The probabilities are that the traitor will be arrested sooner or later. We will await orders from you as to what disposal shall be made of him.
Colonel Stewart left us yesterday (Thursday) for Ooroomeeyah and will go from there on south and around Lake Ooroomeeyah for nearly 2 weeks. He will be a guest at the house of Dr. J. P. Cochran.
We feel ourselves under very great obligations to Colonel Stewart and to Her Britannic Majesty’s Government for the timely and vigorous aid given; and I know I only voice the desire of this station and of the mission when I say I hope you will, on the part of yourself and of our Government, write him a letter of thanks; and, while I do not know what our Government is prepared to do in such cases, I feel that Her Britannic Majesty’s consul-general and his Government should be fully reimbursed for expenses incurred in attempting to defend our lives and having the criminal arrested. He would not consent to receive aught from us, saying he had only done his duty.
This morning (the tenth day) Mrs. Wright seems a little better, and we are now somewhat encouraged to hope for her ultimate recovery, but I doubt if she will ever be again what she was before.
* * * * * * *
May 24.—News has reached us this morning that Minas was captured last Thursday afternoon, the 22d instant, 4 hours east of Van, by the man who followed him up from Bârh Kalēh. They brought him at once towards Salmas, and he has just now (Saturday noon) arrived at Dilman.
We have sent Hadji Khan, the governor of Salmas, word, by the man he sent to inform us of Minas’s arrival, that we leave the matter of his punishment entirely with you and the English consul, Colonel Stewart, as well as the settlement of the amount to be paid out for the pursuit and arrest. It will probably be not less than 100 tomans.
Hadji Khan said he would at once telegraph Colonel Stewart, at Ooroomeeyah, of Minas’s arrest and imprisonment at Dilman and await his instructions.
I leave the matter of his punishment entirely with you and Colonel Stewart, feeling sure that justice will be done and that he will be made an example, so that other evildoers may fear the results of their crimes.
Of course, he should not be put to death unless Mrs. Wright should yet die; but the punishment due for premeditated and deliberately attempted murder should be meted out to him.
Yours, very truly,
Mr. Pratt to Colonel Stewart.
Teheran, June 3, 1890.
My Dear Sir: I beg to acknowledge your letter of the 24th ultimo, from Ooroomeeyah, the contents of which 1 have read with great interest.
By to-day’s mail, which is now about to close, I have only time to hastily express to you my sincere thanks for the energy you have displayed in the pursuit of Mrs. Wright’s dastardly assailant, whose ultimate capture would in all probability never have been effected but for your personal exertion and the direct and timely pressure which you brought to bear upon the local governor of Salmas, who I must have brought to task for neglect of duty.
You may rest assured your prompt and decisive action in this matter, of which I shall immediately inform the honorable Secretary of State, will be duly appreciated by the American Government.
Upon receiving the first intimation of the assault upon Mrs. Wright, and whilst the would-be assassin was still thought to be at large, I caused the most positive orders for the latter’s arrest to be telegraphed by the prime minister, His Highness the Eminé Soul tan, to His Excellency the Emir Nizan, at Tabreez, as well as to the governor of the district of Salmas.
This evening I am to have an interview with His Highness the Eminé Soultan in regard to Mrs. Wright’s case and the punishment of the criminal, who, I consider, should be made to fully expiate the enormity of his crime, in order both to vindicate the law in the present instance and establish an example for the future.
In closing, let me request that you will kindly inform me as to the total amount you have thus far expended in connection with this matter, in order that I may refund you the same.
I gladly accept the offer you have so courteously made to represent me in the prosecution of the case in question, and am happy to say that this is entirely in accordance with His Excellency Sir Henry Drummond Wolff’s views in the premises.
Believe me, etc.,
Mr. Pratt to Mr. Wright.
Teheran, June 3, 1890.
Dear Sir: I have received your letter of the 22d ultimo, and have read with horror and indignation the account it gives of the murderous assault made upon your wife, Mrs. Wright, on the afternoon of the 14th.
Upon receipt of the first intimation of this crime, and before any particulars thereof had yet reached me, I at once brought the matter to the attention of the prime minister, His Highness the Eminé Soultan, who, at my instance, dispatched the most peremptory telegraphic orders both to the governor of Salmas and to the Emir Nizam, at Tabreez, for the immediate pursuit and arrest of the criminal Minas, who was then still supposed to be at large.
Two days later the Emir Nizam telegraphed that the said arrest had been effected in Turkish territory, and that the prisoner would be returned to Salmas. This was confirmed by a telegram from Colonel Stewart, from whom I have just now received a letter exposing the culpable neglect displayed by the local authorities in permitting the criminal’s escape and informing me of the steps he (Colonel Stewart) had been forced to take to insure the latter’s ultimate capture. I am to have an interview with His Highness the Eminé Soultan this evening, when I shall lay all of the above facts before him and ask that the prisoner Minas be sent under heavy guard to Tabreez, there to be tried in the presence of Colonel Stewart, who the British minister has kindly consented to allow to represent me on the occasion.
I have written Colonel Stewart to advise me as to the expenses he has thus far incurred in this affair, so that I may refund him the amount. I have also instructed the colonel to so prosecute the case in question that the perpetrator of this monstrous deed shall be made to pay the full penalty of his crime, in order to satisfy justice in the present instance and serve as an example for the future.
It is my earnest prayer that Mrs. Wright may yet recover from the effects of her wounds.
I have duly cabled what has occurred to our Government.