Mr. Pratt to Mr. Blaine.

No. 461.]

Sir: I have the honor to submit for your consideration the accompanying copies of the correspondence (inclosures Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4) that has passed between Consul-General Stewart and myself relative [Page 667] to the Salmas murder case since my dispatch No. 460 of the 4th instant.

It is to Colonel Stewart’s statement regarding the present lawless attitude of the Armenians inhabiting the Perso-Turkish frontier provinces and the alleged confession of Minas, the murderer of Mrs. Wright, of his previous intention to assassinate both that lady and her husband—which last was indirectly reported to me as having been confided by the said Minas to his supposed mistress, Asli, who divulged it after his arrest—that I would call your special attention.

In view of the facts, I think you will approve my course in insisting that the said criminal be tried and punished in accordance with his crime at Tabreez, the capital of the province in which the deed was committed, and in recommending that the woman Asli be also subpœnaed and made to testify on the occasion.

I do not anticipate that this incident will give rise to trouble, but, should it do so, and lead to any threatening demonstration on the part of the Armenian or Nestorian population of Azerbaijan against the American residents there, it is my intention to proceed myself to Tabreez, in order to see to the proper protection of our citizens in the above province.

I have, etc.,

E. Spencer Pratt.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 461.]

Colonel Stewart to Mr. Pratt.

No. 1.]

Sir: I have the honor to address you on the subject of the Armenian Minas, who is in confinement at Salmas for a murderous assault on the wife of the Rev. J. Wright, American missionary at Salmas.

I have already forwarded two telegrams to Her Britannic Majesty’s minister at Teheran on this matter, which I asked might be shown to you, and I also addressed you by letter on the 24th instant, informing you that the assassin had been captured. I now write to suggest that the prisoner Minas should be removed to Teheran to undergo such punishment as you may think necessary to meet the case.

It seems to me necessary that he should not remain in Tabreez. A good deal of excitement has been caused among the Armenians in the Salmas district by this attempt at assassination, and I am surprised to find that the Armenians are anxious that Minas should not be punished and that they have asked the missionaries to forgive the man.

There is, in consequence of the seditious literature which has been spread amongst the Armenians both in Turkey and Persia by the newspapers and other periodicals published at Marseilles and elsewhere, a feeling of disregard of all authority and a feeling in favor of criminals.

I have written to the Emir Nizam, asking that Minas may be sent to Tabreez, as I do not consider that he is in very safe custody in Salmas.

I would suggest that before Minas is sent to Teheran to undergo any term of imprisonment to which he may be sentenced he should, as a part of his punishment, receive a severe flogging at Tabreez in my presence, as such punishment would bring home to the Armenians that he had been guilty of a crime.

I have not seen the prisoner, as he was seized after I left Salmas, but I understand he allows he made an attempt to shoot both Mr. and Mrs. Wright the night before his attack on Mrs. Wright, and was only prevented carrying out his purpose by an accidental interruption.

The safety of the American community in these parts, I consider, requires that Minas should receive a long term of imprisonment as an example to others.

I have, etc.,

C. E. Stewart,
Colonel, Her Britannic Majesty’s Consul-General in Azerbaijan.
[Page 668]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 461.]

Mr. Pratt to Colonel Stewart

No. 1.]

Sir: I have received your dispatch dated Ooroomeeyah, May 31, 1890, and have carefully considered its contents.

The letter which you were so good as to address me from the above city on the 24th of last month came to hand and was duly acknowledged on the 3d instant, my reply being sent you to Tabreez direct. I was also promptly shown the two telegrams regarding the case of Mrs. Wright which you mention having forwarded Her Britannic Majesty’s minister here, and have since received your message conveying the sad announcement that Mrs. Wright had died on the 1st instant from the effect of the wounds inflicted upon her by the Armenian Minas on the 14th.

In view of this, I consider that the said case, which must now be treated as one of premeditated murder, should be tried in your presence at Tabreez and the criminal there executed, for the especial purpose of bringing this affair home to those very Armenians in western Persia and the adjacent provinces of Turkey whom, in your present dispatch, you describe as having lately become imbued with a spirit of such utter lawlessness.

The above opinion is fully shared by Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, who thinks the suggestion in regard to conveying the prisoner to Teheran for trial was made before you had become aware of the fatal termination of the assault in question. Hence, on receiving your telegram, as follows:

“Have just been informed of the arrival of Mrs. Wright’s murderer. Have arranged for first meeting to-morrow. I arrived yesterday.”

I replied:

“Your telegram and dispatch received. Think prisoner should be tried and executed at Tabreez. Have written reasons.”

The criminating statement, which you say you understand was made by the prisoner, that previous to his assault upon Mrs. Wright he had endeavored to take the lives both of that lady and her husband, but was thwarted in the attempt, has also been indirectly reported to me as having been repeated by the criminal’s alleged paramour, who, I think, should in consequence be brought to Tabreez and examined, in order to elicit the fact as to whether or not there are any others implicated in this crime, which may turn out to have been a conspiracy of far greater extent than would appear at first sight.

On the evening of the 3d I explained to His Highness the Eminé Soultan the particulars of the assault made upon Mrs. Wright and told him of the steps you had taken to effect the criminal’s arrest, as well as of the inaction displayed by the governor of Salmas previous to your arrival, for which I requested that the latter might be severely brought to task. At the same time I asked that telegraphic orders be sent for the transfer of the prisoner under strong guard to Tabreez, where you would officially represent me at his trial. To all of which His Highness immediately assented. When, the following day, I sent him your telegram announcing Mrs. Wright’s death, he expressed profound regret and assured me that positive orders had already been given for the removal of the criminal to Tabreez, where the Emir Nizam was instructed to have him tried in your presence and sentenced in accordance with the law and to my satisfaction.

Let me here again repeat to you the assurances of my sincere appreciation of the manner in which you have exerted yourself in behalf of our people in the present instance.

I am, etc.,

E. Spencer Pratt.