Mr. Pratt to Mr. Blaine.

No. 482.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that, having advised Consul General Stewart, at Tabreez, of the facts communicated in my report No. 479 of the 26th ultimo, I have just received, in response from the consul-general, a dispatch and letter, with inclosures, the copies of which are herewith respectfully submitted for your consideration.

Since neither the alleged attempt to assault or intimidate Mr. Wright, nor the controversy about the house at Khoi in which Mr. Mechlin is involved, present any difficulties not apparently susceptible of solution here, I shall not stop to discuss these questions at present, but will pass at once to the case of Minas, the murderer of Mrs. Wright.

What Colonel Stewart says about the evil consequences to be apprehended if Minas is not sentenced to death for his barbarous crime fully coincides, you will observe, with the views that I have already expressed on this subject.

I question, however, the propriety of acting upon the suggestion advanced by the colonel in his private letter, to get Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, Her Britannic Majesty’s minister at this court, to join me in a protest against the said criminal’s nonexecution.

That the British minister would readily accede to such a request on my part I have little doubt.

Still, from long and careful study of the situation, I am forced to conclude that when the representative of a disinterested power here applies to the envoy of one of the powers directly concerned in Persia’s politics to officially support in forcing any particular measure upon the Shah’s Government, he incurs the risk of placing himself in the very embarrassing position of being called upon to reciprocate on some future occasion in a manner which may not accord with the policy of neutrality his own Government would desire him to pursue.

Hence, though there would seem to be no objection to asking Sir Henry Drummond Wolff’s informal and friendly intercession in the present instance, if the case is one which in your opinion warrants an appeal for the joint official action, it would appear to me best that I should seek the cooperation not only of Sir Drummond, but also of the French minister, and, if circumstance made it desirable, of the minister of Russia as well.

At the same time, if you direct me to make a formal demand in the name of the Government of the United States for this criminal’s execution, it is my belief that the said demand will be complied with.

[Page 686]

I am now only awaiting your instructions in this matter, which, whatever they are, you may rest assured I shall faithfully obey.

The removal of the prisoner from Tabreez to Teheran for safe keeping I have already asked for.

I have, etc.,

E. Spencer Pratt.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 482.]

Colonel Stewart to Mr. Pratt.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt this day of Your Excellency’s dispatch No. 17, dated July 26, and I am astonished to hear that the prisoner Minas has not been condemned to death.

It is perfectly ridiculous of the Persian authorities to say that the evidence is not complete and sufficient. One witness saw Minas commit the murder, a second saw him running away, and when he tried to stop him Minas threatened him with a revolver. Besides these, three other witnesses, one of these Dr. Shedd, gave evidence that Minas confessed the deed to them.

* * * * * * *

There can be no doubt that if Minas does not suffer death there will be a very grave miscarriage of justice and the position of Americans and Europeans in the outlying villages in Persia will be very precarious and their lives unsafe.

I have received two letters and telegrams from Mr. Mechlin and Mr. Wright complaining that a man believed to be a brother of Minas was in the village of Oola, where Mr. Wright resides, with four other men and wished to kill Mr. Wright. I at once got the Emir Nizam to telegraph to the governor of Salmas ordering him to arrest those people.

They have been driven away and have fled, it is believed, to Russian territory. They proved, however, not to be relations of Minas, but only, I understand, some bad characters bent on robbery, and Mr. Wright, whose nerves are rather unstrung by his wife’s murder, which is not surprising, was told they were relatives of Minas and feared to leave his house. That matter has now been satisfactorily settled, and Mr. Wright is no longer alarmed.

It seems to me, for the protection of the citizens of the United States, that Minas should suffer death for a very cold-blooded murder committed without any provocation and which has been amply proved.

I hope you will not mind my suggesting that if you find it impossible to obtain justice in Teheran that the Government of the United States should be moved to demand justice. In the meantime I would ask, if there is to be much delay, that Minas be at least removed to Teheran, as, if he is not to suffer death as an example to others, he should not remain at Tabreez, where his presence is likely to have a bad effect.

I send you a letter from Mr. Mechlin about a house at Khoi. Within an hour of receiving Mr. Mechlin’s letter I called on the Mustashar-ud-Douleh and spoke to him on the subject, and I hope to see the Emir Nizam in a day or two and get the matter settled, but I write you that you may know about the matter.

I do not think it will be necessary for you to take any steps at present, for I hope to be able to settle it.

I have, etc.,

C. E. Stewart,
Colonel, Her British Majesty’s Consul-General, Tabreez.

Mr. Mechlin to Mr. Pratt .

Sir: I am now in Khoi (7 miles from Salmas) in business connection with a house we have rented there or here.

[Page 687]

I have been to see the wali, or governor, and he has referred the whole matter to Tabreez to the emir. He gives me 20 days until his decision is granted, that is, from July 29, 1890.

I went to call on the wali this morning. He received me kindly, and we talked the matter over in a very friendly spirit. I asked the wali what are the charges the Armenians are bringing against me; he answered:

  • “First. That you have rented a house near their church for their helper.
  • “Second. That you are going to open a school in opposition to our (their) own school
  • “Third. That you are drawing away our (their) people.”

To the first the wali said: “The people did not tell me that you had this place rented for several years previous to this; they said it was a new thing.” The wali said, “I know you have the right to buy and rent, but in this, case the people are opposed to you, and I must refer the matter to Tabreez.”

I told him if they decided this against us our treaty was nothing, and we would not permit that to be. He assured me that he had no opposition to me, but, as the Armenians had referred the matter to Tabreez, he would do so also.

In brief, I will give you the history of the case. Some 2 or 3 weeks ago an Armenian teacher came from Van to teach the Armenian school in Khoi. Until he came there was no opposition whatever. All was quiet and pleasant. But he was afraid Baron Demettric, our Armenian teacher (and he is an excellent teacher), would draw away his boys, so he excites (or incites) the old priest to raise a storm about the house chat we have rented for Demettric for 5 years, because we wanted to fix up a room for him and wanted the house certain for that time.

The opposition at first came to the woman who has the house and had rented to us and tried to frighten her so that she would not permit us to live here.

She reported this matter to the Russian consular agent (for she is a Russian citizen, and how can she rent or buy) against the Armenian teacher. The agent said, he is a Turkish citizen; and he referred the matter to the Turkish consular agent, who fined the teacher and told him to keep quiet. Since then the teacher denies that he was working in this matter, and that it was all the old priest’s doings.

After this they wrote a letter to the Armenian bishop in Tabreez and told him of their trouble. They used deceit in getting signers. They would go to a man and say: “Are you a Turk or an Armenian? If you are an Armenian, sign this paper;” and so quite a number signed that paper who were opposed to this opposition, for they were deceived as to its contents.

Saturday morning last Shamasha Werda, our preacher here, was going to Khoi city (our work is outside the city walls), and he met three priests and a farash from the wali. They were going to serve an order on the woman who owns the house that she must not permit Shamasha Werda or Baron Demettric to live there. Shamasha Werda went at once to see the wall and said: “It is not my house, an American has rented it, and I can not give answer until I hear from him.” The wali then gave him 5 days to hear from me, and he also recalled the order to the priest. Now he gives me 20 days in which to settle the matter. The parties working in this matter are, (1) the new Armenian teacher, (2) one or two Armenian merchants who are angry because we (of Oroomeeyah and Salmas) have given our box business into the hands of our shamasha, or preacher, and have taken it away from them. They robbed us of lots of money, and so we took it from them. The woman wants our teacher to remain in her house. You know where the matter will lead if we must give up this house. The people of Salmas need only complain against us and they can drive us from our homes. This is a copy of my letter to Colonel Stewart on this matter, and I hope you will see that we get our rights. There are no charges against either Shamasha Werda or Baron Demettric before the wali.

Yours, etc.,

J. C. Mechlin.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 482.]

Colonel Stewart to Mr. Pratt.

Dear Mr. Pratt: I think it will have a very bad effect if Minas is not executed. What the Eminé Soultan says, in the copy of the Persian letter you sent me, is not reasonable. Minas confessed to three different people having committed the murder, as appears in the proceeedings.

Could you not get Sir H. Drummond Wolff to join you in a protest against the nonexecution of Minas?

It is a question that affects all Americans who live in this part of Persia.

[Page 688]

I send you one of the letters I received from Mr. Wright calling upon me to protect him, as a specimen. I received even a stronger worded letter from Mr. Mechlin.

The matter has been satisfactorily settled, as the people concerned have fled; but I was obliged to send two telegrams about it, one from Emir Nizam to the governor of Salmas, as I could not, when urgently asked for help by Mr. Wright or Mr. Mechlin, think it was more or less of a false alarm, the people only having been thieves, unconnected with Minas, who had tried to get into Mr. Wright’s house, but were prevented.

The Emir Nizam sent a strongly worded telegram immediately on my applying to him, directing the governor to protect Mr. Wright.

Yours, sincerely,

C. E. Stewart.

P. S.—I believe it is a mistake that any attempt was made to desecrate Mrs. Wright’s grave, but will make inquiries.

C. E. S.

Mr. Wright to Colonel Stewart.

Dear Sir: As Mr. Mechlin has by special messenger sent word to you about the state of affairs here, I will only add that your telegram, or rather that of the Emir Nizam to the Naibi Hukuveat here, arrived yesterday, and to-day measures are being taken to effect the arrest of the would-be assassins.

Thursday and Friday nights (the past two nights) they have made no attempt to reach my house. My guard fired on them Wednesday night, and I gave out word, which they have heard, that anyone who attempts to scale my yard walls will be shot down. This I was compelled to do, as neither the governor, Shiek il Islam, nor the villagers here would help in the matter of their restraint or capture.

Since that they have heard of the telegrams Mr. Mechlin sent to you and are getting afraid apparently. I keep inside my yard all the time as yet, for fear some of them might be lying in ambush. They were seen on Thursday last at Inalham. If they elude arrest here, the governor of Oroomeeyah, I think, should be requested to secure them, punish them for their attempts on my life and for their attempt to desecrate my wife’s grave, and take from them heavy bonds to keep the peace on pain of death and confiscation of their property. You will, of course, know how to do this better than I can request. The above plan is only intended as a suggestion. The parties in Tabreez should give bond there, should they not, lest they, on their way to Oroomeeyah make an attack on me or on Mrs. Wright’s grave at Gavelan?

I thank you heartily for the prompt telegram you had the emir send. It was quite what was needed. The governor is mixed up in another murder case. The Kurds carried off the flocks of a village called Chichack and killed one man and wounded a number of others; he has been engaged in capturing them, and just now word comes that the flocks have been found in Somai and the thieves (or four of them) arrested. He will now, I trust, have no excuse for neglecting the capture of Minas’s friends. By the way, the sooner Minas’s case is ended and he receives his punishment the sooner, in myofinion, will things quiet down. Many here think the object of his brother now is to so frighten me that I shall request Minas’s pardon. While I hardly think this is the case, yet I feel sure that the longer Minas’s case hangs on hand the more danger there is to all concerned. The general belief in Salmas seems to be that the trial went against us, and this emboldens those who threaten our lives on account of that garden to be bold and outspoken in their threats. It does seem as though God for some reason had unloosed Satan in Salmas this year. During the previous 4 years I was here there were not as many murders as during the present 6 months.

With many thanks, etc.,

J. N. Wright.