Mr. Tyler to Mr.
Legation of the United States,
Teheran, Persia, July 12,
1894. (Received August 15.)
Sir: I have the honor to forward for your
information copies of (1) a letter from the Rev. James Hawkes, an
American missionary at Hamadan, relating to the renewed persecution of
the Jews by a certain ecclesiastical dignitary in that city, and the
forcible removal of a man who had taken refuge in Mr. Hawkes’s house;
(2) a letter from Dr. Holmes, the medical missionary at that station, in
regard to the same subject; (3) extract from a letter from Dr. Holmes
reporting the arrest of some of their teachers and pupils, probably
Jews, who were, however, speedily released; (4) a letter from myself to
Dr. Holmes expressing my views of the situation, and requesting to be
informed by telegraph in case affairs in Hamadan should assume a more
serious aspect; (5) a letter from Mr. Conyingham Greene, the English
chargé d’affaires, to myself affirming his belief that Mullah Abdullah,
the author of all these troubles, who was ordered up to Teheran by the
Shah, was, before he was permitted to return, obliged to give securities
for his future good behavior, and stating that the Sadr Azem had
informed him that orders had been sent by the Shah which would have the
effect of putting an end to these oppressions.
It appears from what I have been able to gather from various sources that
for some time past there has been a considerable movement amongst the
Jewish population in Hamadan towards Christianity. This mayor may not be
a reaction against the persecutions and indignities which they have
suffered at the hands of the ecclesiastical and ruling authorities. It
may also be, and on which I do not profess to offer an opinion, the
result of religious convictions. Whichever may be the active cause, or
it may even be both, it is quite evident that the Akhund, Mullah
Abdullah, considers it a reflection on himself and the Moslem [Page 493] religion as well. He is a
violent bigot and fanatic, and this phase of his character, in the eyes
of the common people, throws a halo of sanctity around his person. It is
satisfactory to find from Mr. Greene’s letter that the Shah has again
asserted his authority in favor of peace, order, and good
I have, etc.,
Vice-Consul-General in charge.
[Inclosure 1 in No.
Mr. Hawkes to
Dear Mr. Tyler: Having received your favor
of the 19th instant, I am pleased to learn that you still interest
yourself in our efforts to establish a school at Kermanshah. I hope
you may be eventually successful in obtaining the necessary
The Catholics have no mission at present in Kermanshah, but I
understand they are making preparations to open one shortly. Last
winter during our stay there the Catholics gave us a separate
petition, which I forwarded to our U. S. minister. You can no doubt
find it in its proper place. The Christian community at Kermanshah
numbers about six or eight families, almost entirely Catholic, and
the Jewish community about four hundred families, or more.
As a matter of information I wish to report the following particulars
of a little encounter with the Akhund, Mullah Abdullah.
On Sunday last he caused to be arrested a former pupil and teacher of
our school, Mirza Salazar Faraj, who, since his older brother’s
death, has been carrying on that brothers business as a merchant
When he was present the Ahkund reviled him for accepting
Christianity instead of Islam, and ordered him to be taken to the
said Akhund’s house. The attendants beat him in the Akhund’s
presence. On his way to the Akhund’s he slipped out of the hands of
the attendants as he was passing near my house and came into my
The attendants followed him, and after a contest, in which I tried to
rescue him from their hands, they carried him off by force. I, being
single-handed on account of the absence of my servants who were
eating their dinners, was not able to effectually resist so many.
Some of the number turned upon me, but a neighbor and a sayed helped
me to put them out and close the door. Shortly afterwards the
Akhund’s servant returned, ordering me to appear before the Akhund
immediately, and threatened violence in case I did not respond. This
I refused to do, and again closed the door in his face; (he is an
exceedingly impudent sayed and the cause of almost all the Akhund’s
Dr. Holmes, who had arrived before this sayed’s return, went out by
another door and pacified him and brought him in. After considerable
talk Dr. Holmes went with him to see the Akhund and talked the whole
matter over with him. He attempted to make me out a transgressor,
which Dr. Holmes denied, asserting that I had only asserted my right
within the bounds of my premises.
Among many things which were said, the Akhund virtually defied the
Shah, etc., but the interview ended in a friendly parting and the
promise of another interview. That evening the missionaries called
upon Hussein Khan Sarteeb, Beglar Begi (who has always proved a [Page 494] faithful friend on such
occasions), and he afterwards arranged for a meeting between the
Akhund and the missionaries. On Tuesday morning we went to the house
of Hadji Mirza Mehde, where we understood we were to meet the
Akhund, but we found that they had not so arranged, expecting us to
go from thence to the Akhund’s house. At this we demurred but we
finally consented to go for a friendly call on condition that these
two men would take charge of our case. We asked but two things of
them: First, that those Jews who had been free from wearing the
patch and suffering other indignities on account of their relation
to the missionaries should continue to enjoy this liberty; and
second, that while we had nothing to say about their relations with
the Jews of this city we reserved the right to report to our own and
other foreign Governments any violence or indignities which may be
imposed upon them. They accepted these conditions, and we made a
call on the Akhund, at which time nothing but good will was
In this connection I would ask two favors: First, that you would
kindly give the above report to the English legation as a matter of
information; and second, that you would let us know on what
conditions Mullah Abdullah returned to Hamadan. We understand,
through English papers, that he gave bonds to keep the peace, and we
would be glad to know if this is true.
Yours, very sincerely,
[Inclosure 2 in No.
Dr. Holmes to
Dear Sir: Mr. Watson and Mr. Hawkes are
writing you to-day in regard to the renewal of the persecution of
the Jews, which we have anticipated ever since the Akhund Abdullah
returned from Teheran. The forcible entry of Mr. Hawkes’s premises
in pursuit of one of our Christian converts, who was taken by the
Akhund’s men literally out of Mr. Hawkes’s hands, and severely
beaten for his failure to wear the red patch which the Akhund has
decided that the Jews, whether Christian converts or not, should
wear, gave us an opportunity of making a vigorous protest against
the imposition of such insignia of dishonor upon Christians; and
also against the renewal of the cruel persecution of the Jews which
was carried out by his orders last year. We have satisfied him that
we propose to keep our own and the European Governments advised of
any unusual acts of oppression perpetrated upon the Jews, and of any
demonstrations menacing their lives or property.
We have, however, had a very pleasant interview with the Akhund
himself, and also with Hadji Mirza Mehde, who is in sympathy with
him, and we have assurances from the latter that our rights and
those of the Jews shall be respected.
Mirza Hussein Khan, the Beglar Begi, who has just recently been
promoted to Sarteeb, has in this matter, as at all times, shown
himself a warm and efficient friend. We called to-day upon the
vizier of the governor, Mirza Mahomet Reizza Khan, the prince
himself being absent, and had a very pleasant interview. We have no
doubt of his disposition to protect us; also the Jews, to the extent
of his power; though if an emeute should occur, he could probably do
little. Mehdi Khan Sertib Mansur-ed-Dowleh sent to me yesterday to
inquire about the affair, and Ali Islam Serhaug, his lieutenant,
intimated that the city was in a [Page 495] ferment, and that we were in danger of mob
violence. I told him that we were in no danger at all if the Sertib
and his friend the Zea-ul-Mulk, and the other men in authority and
influence, did their duty in asserting the authority of the Shah,
and not allowing a hostile demonstration to gain headway. We have
seen a statement from the British foreign office that the Akhund was
not permitted to return to Hamadan until the assent of the British
minister had been obtained, and this was not given until he had
given bonds to keep the peace. If this is correct, as I doubt not it
is, he should be required to respect the conditions of his release.
I sent word to Mansur-ed-Dowleh and to the Zea-ul-Mulk that we had
every confidence in their desire to protect us, but that, if they
expected to do so, they must exert their influence and authority,
they having the command of the most of the troops, I believe, to
keep the peace; particularly as the Moharem is approaching, and the
disorderly and fanatical elements are easily acted upon then by
designing men. We do not feel that the situation is as yet at all
critical, and hope that the excitement will entirely quiet down.
I had a personal interview with the Akhund after the affair at Mr.
Hawkes’s, and though everything was said pleasantly, I made it plain
that the violation of our premises must not be repeated.
My purpose is not to invoke any assistance from Teheran, but to keep
you advised of the situation, so that on receipt of a letter you
would know how to act, and could, if necessary, advise the British
and other legations.
It has been reported that Sayed Ali, the servant of Akhund, had two
ribs broken in the affair at Mr. Hawkes’s. This was absurd, as Mr.
Hawkes was alone at the time and no blows were struck; but it was
evidently believed by the native physician in attendance. At the
request of Sayed Ali, I visited him and found him suffering from an
attack of asthma to which he was subject, and for which I had
previously treated him. He had a pleuritic pain, which was thought
to depend on a fracture of the rib. It is needless to say that the
sayed had no fracture, nor did he make any pretense that he had been
hit by anybody.
Everything is now quiet and we come and go as usual. We do not wish
to have any special action taken in the matter unless we should be
compelled to do so by the action of the Akhund.
Yours, very truly,
[Inclosure 3 in No.
Dr. Holmes to
Dear Sir: I wrote you last week about the
trouble here, which I thought then was quieted down. Soon after this
other of our teachers and pupils were arrested, but on our
application were promptly released by the Akhund. It turns out that
the aggressor in this instance, and the instigator in the other
case, was a former servant of Miss Schenck’s, who used this method
of revenging himself for his dismissal from her service and her
unwillingness to meet his demands for more pay, etc. We hope to have
the man punished, as he has made threats of violence to our
missionary ladies. But the authorities are disposed to protect our
interests, and the Akhund has done nothing about which we care to
make complaint since I wrote you last week.
[Inclosure 4 in No.
Mr. Tyler to
Legation of the United States,
Teheran, July 10, 1894.
Dear Sir: I wrote a few lines on the 3d
instant, to inform you that Mr. Hawkes’s letter of the 28th and
yours of the 29th ultimo had just arrived; and I have now to
acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 6th instant.
It appears from what you report concerning the persecution of the
Jews of Hamadan, and the forcible removal from Mr. Hawkes’s premises
of a former pupil and teacher of your school, that these are matters
requiring serious consideration. They may not be of very grave
import in themselves, but it is possible that if they are allowed to
go on unchecked and unredressed, time after time, they may
eventually assume alarming proportions. You are, no doubt, being on
the spot, better able; than I am to judge of the actual state of
public feeling and the general position of affairs in Hamadan, and
therefore, in accordance with your expressed wishes, I shall, at the
present time, make no official representation to the central
authorities on these irregularities. I think, however, that it would
not be advisable to allow too many repetitions of this lawlessness
or too frequent threats to be used toward the ladies of the mission
without some remonstrance being made, if the local governor is
powerless to act effectively. I feel it, therefore, my duty to ask
you, that in case the position should assume a more threatening
aspect, you will let me know by telegraph.
I trust you will be able to get the instigator of these acts of
aggression and indignity, Miss Schenck’s late servant, punished by
the authorities. If this is carried out in an exemplary manner, it
will probably have the effect of deterring others in the future. * *
Any complaint that you may feel it necessary to make to this legation
will be attended to with the utmost expedition.
I have already communicated Mr. Hawkes’s report to the English
legation, where, I have no doubt, it will receive due attention. I
[Inclosure 5 in No.
Greene to Mr. Tyler.
Sir: In reply to the inquiry contained in
the last paragraph of your letter of the 7th instant, I beg to state
that I believe it is the case that Mullah Abdullah gave securities
for his good behavior before his return to Hamadan, but whether at
the instance of Sir Frank Lascelles or not, I can not say. Sir
Frank, I know, made strong representations to the Persian Government
on the subject of the action of the Mullah.
I myself received a petition last month purporting to come from the
Jewish community of Hamadan, complaining of the oppression of Mullah
Abdullah, but, as it was neither signed nor sealed, I do not know if
it was authentic.
I spoke to the Sadr Azem on the subject, who told me that orders have
been sent by the Shah which would have the effect of putting an end
to the oppression complained of by the Jewish community of
I am, etc.,