Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1894, With the Annual Message of the President, Transmitted to Congress, December 3, 1894
Mr. Tyler to Mr. Gresham.
Teheran, Persia , August 23, 1894 .
(Received September 27.)
Sir: In continuation of No. 116,1 diplomatic series of the 6th instant, relating to the religious persecutions in Hamadan by the fanatic, Akhund Mullah Abdullah, and the danger to the lives and property of American citizens and their dependents by his reckless, cruel, and wanton proceedings, I have the honor to transmit copies of further local correspondence on this subject.
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I have inclosed the whole of the correspondence up to date, so that the Department might be put into possession of all the material facts. At one time it appeared as if the situation was becoming grave, and that the missionaries were in real danger. I had, however, the satisfaction of knowing that they would do nothing to complicate matters or infuse a bad spirit into the disputes.
The immunity from severe punishment which members of the priestly class enjoy always makes them insolent and reckless, and they can generally depend upon the support of the lowest and most dangerous part of the population. They are not generally liked by intelligent and independent people, and very uncomplimentary terms are used of them, but, on account of their great numbers and their wide influence, outward deference and respect are observed toward them.[Page 498]
It is satisfactory to find that Mullah Abdullah has not altogether allowed his fanaticism to outrun his discretion, and I hope that he will in the future be kept effectually in check by the Government.
I have, etc.,
Mr. Tyler to Mr. Holmes.
Teheran , August 7, 1894 .
Dear Sir: I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your and Mr. Hawkes’s letters of the 26th ultimo, which reached the legation on the evening of the 1st instant.
From your detailed, though unimpassioned, account of the general unsatisfactory state of affairs in Hamadan, and of the cruel and oppressive conduct of the Akhund Mullah Abdullah and his bribed and irresponsible minions in particular, I think the time had come, nay, more than come, for the central Government to be put into possession of the facts of the case, and an opportunity afforded them of exercising their authority, in the interests of peace, order, and good government.
I have reason to believe that the executive authorities, both here and in Hamadan, are averse to the Akhund and all his proceedings; and if he had been a lay instead of an ecclesiastical offender he would have suffered the full penalty of his misdeeds. But you, as well or even better than I, have observed that within the last four or five years the priestly class has assumed pretentions and authority probably never before aimed at since the days of the caliphate. Mullah Abdullah would never, after his recent visit to Teheran, have been permitted to return to Hamadan but for the intervention (I won’t say intercession) of the religious dignitaries of this city.
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There is evidently in Persia at the present time a progressive and a reactionary party, but neither appears as yet to have imbibed the genuine spirit of patriotism, but on the contrary the ideas of both, I am afraid, are sadly adulterated with selfishness. If the ruling authorities felt confident of their position and strength, and could compel the obedience and good behavior of all classes, I believe they have intelligence enough to discern and prudence to foresee that the work in which you are engaged, if extended a hundred times, would be the best guaranty and safeguard of the liberty of the subject and the permanence of the Kingdom. The party of reaction sees, as it always has and I suppose always will see, that the elevation and enlightenment of the masses mean not only the curtailment of power but of emolument as well.
This is a state of affairs which we are obliged to contemplate every day, and these two sets of opinions are freely expressed at every private and social meeting. It is a question of supreme importance to Persia at the present time, and one that the Government will have to face, as to whether they shall control the destinies of the country on their own responsibility and by their own methods, or whether they shall subordinate their views and policy to the dictation of others.
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It would possibly at the present stage be rather early to assume [Page 499] that the movement in Hamadan has anything more than a local significance. * * *
I have, in my letter to the Sadr Azem, which was sent from here shortly after midday the day after yours arrived, used the word missionaries advisedly, so that in case of discussion it may be conducted on clear and unmistakable issues.
The Shah is now away on an excursion, in Mazenderan, and I hardly think in connection with a telegraph line, so I am afraid we must be prepared for a litle delay. I hope, nevertheless, that you will not be kept long in suspense.
Rest assured that I shall not let the matter drop, but I hope that no further communication will be necessary.
I remain, etc.,
Mr Hawkes to Mr. Tyler.
Dear Mr. Tyler: Since last week, when Dr. Holmes and I wrote to you how Mullah Abdullah had disturbed the peace here and bastinadoed Mirza Salazar Faraj, we have had lively times here, but fortunately for us the brunt of it all did not fall upon us.
It seems that a certain Abdullah, known as Kusaj, a servant or dependent of Hadji Mirza Mehdi, mentioned in former letters as a co-worker with Mullah Abdullah, has been talking loudly and badly against Aga Mohammed, one of the acting Mushtaheds of the city, and went so far as to strike Hadji Sadr, a prominent man. The “Agayans” (priests), a strong part of Sayeds, with the Imaum-i-Jumah (high priest) at their head—also known as Kabadians from the name of their quarter in the city—took up the matter and sent a request to Hadji Mirza Mehdi to curb in said Abdullah. He replied: “He is my man and it is proper for him to do so.” Upon hearing this the Agayans sent a mob of their adherents with a number of Sayeds at their head, to fight it out with Hadji Mirza Mehdi and his party. When they arrived at his house they found the door shut and no one prepared to meet them. The party of Hadji Mirza Mehdi and Mullah Abdullah had the shops of the bazaar closed, for they are mostly shopkeepers, and came to look on, but not prepared to fight. Somehow a little skirmish took place and some on each side were hurt. One man on Hadji Merza Mendi’s side came to Dr. Holmes to have his hand dressed, which had been badly cut.
In the meantime the ferash bashi at the head of a number of Government ferashes arrived to restore peace. And at the same time Hadji Mirza Hassan, a brother of Hadji Mirza Mehdi, who is on the side of the “Agayans,” arrived and publicly cursed his brother for espousing the cause of a good-for-nothing Burujerdi, the Akhund. “Oh, that my father had not given existence to such an unworthy son,” etc. He also cursed the governor and the ferash bashi for not keeping the peace, etc. He then tried to turn back the “Agayan” crowd, but they refused to go without word from the Imaum-i-Jumah. He obtained their writing and, showing it, prevailed upon the crowd to return to their own quarters. All this occurred on Tuesday, and for the rest of the day and the next both parties were in conclave as to the next move. Wednesday afternoon the prince governor prevailed on some one (I [Page 500] have not his name just now) to make peace between the contending parties. He succeeded to the extent that there have since been no hostilities. But no one believes that the peace is permanent.
The Akhund’s party alienated the “Sheikhees” (a sect) by putting one of their young men out of a school under most humiliating circumstances, thus renewing the quarrel of 1892. Thereupon the “Sheikhees” petitioned the Shah for the Akhund’s removal from the city. I also understand they telegraphed the Shah about the bastinadoing of Mirza Salazar Faraj, mentioned last week. And I also hear that the Akhund is interfering with the collecting of the revenue. He sent word to Faraj Ullah Khan, Sarteeb, “Why do you commit this oppression?” The Sarteeb replied: “It is none of your business.” Then the Akhund appealed to the prince governor to take away the sword of said Sarteeb. He replied, “I did not give the sword to the ‘Sarteeb’ that I should take it away; that is no business of mine.”
This whole matter has been reported to Teheran by telegraph and doubtless there are petitions going up from all sides to-day. I have given you the brief facts as I have been able to gather them, in the hopes that you will be able to use them in your efforts to obtain redress for us. It seems to us and all the natives we see that only the wisest and most summary action on the part of the Government will be of any use to restore peace and quiet. We hope that you will put forth the most strenuous efforts in this direction.
Very truly yours,
Mr. Tyler to the Mushir-el-Mulk.
Teheran , August 11, 1894 .
Sir: On the 2d of this month I had the honor to forward through your excellency a letter addressed to the Sadr Azem with reference to the state of lawlessness prevailing in the city of Hamadan. As the state of the city is becoming worse every day, and no reply having been received to my communication, our citizens residing in the midst of these proceedings are becoming anxious.
I have therefore to request that you will inform me of the views of the Persian Government on the situation and of the measures that have been adopted for putting a stop to these proceedings.
I avail, etc.,
The Mushir-el-Mulk to Mr. Tyler.
Sir: In reply to your letter just received regarding events in Hamadan, I beg to inform you that stringent orders have been issued and will be telegraphed to the authorities in Hamadan to-day.
A formal reply to your previous letter on this subject will be sent later on.
I take this opportunity, etc.
[Seal of Mushir-el-Mulk].
The Sadr Azem to Mr. Tyler.
Sir: I beg to inform yon that the contents of your letter, dated the 29th of Muharram (corresponding to the 2d of August, 1894), relative to events that had taken place in the city of Hamadan, have been understood.
Stringent orders have been sent to the authorities of Hamadan with strict injunctions to have them put into execution. Orders have also been sent for a thorough investigation to be made into the affair, and measures to be taken for the tranquillity of American citizens.
These matters are set forth for your information.
I take this opportunity, etc.
Mr. Hatches to Mr. Tyler.
Dear Sir: I trust you received my letter of last week giving you particulars of the state of affairs here. There has been no change in the situation since then and all is quiet. I learn that Mullah Abdullah had a message proclaimed in the bazaars to the effect that no one must beat or hurt the Jews. If any are found without the “vasleh” (patch), they are to be brought before him, but without violence. We are awaiting a reply from our former letters to you, but trust that no further efforts need be put forth.
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Mr. Tyler to the Sadr Azem.
Teheran , August 20, 1894 .
Your Highness: On the 2d instant I had the honor to address a letter to you on the subject of the unsatisfactory state of affairs in Hamadan, and the danger to the lives and property of United States citizens, and those connected with them in that town, through the lawless and unjustifiable proceedings of the Akhund, Mullah Abdullah, and a set of dangerous and irresponsible characters whom he employs to execute his orders. At the same time I most respectfully requested that your highness would take prompt and efficient measures to restore order and afford effective protection to our peaceful and law-abiding citizens and their dependents in Hamadan. As I have not yet received from your highness any reply to my communication, I beg to be informed as early as possible what steps have been taken to secure those objects.
I take this opportunity, etc.,
Mr. Tyler to the Sadr Azem.
Teheran , August 21, 1894 .
Your Highness: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 18th of Safar, A. H. 1312 (corresponding to the 20th of August), informing me that stringent orders had been sent to the authorities of Hamadan to preserve the peace of the town and to afford all protection to the lives and property of American citizens.
I beg to tender on the part of the U. S. Government and the missionaries their sincere thanks for this action of your highness, which I trust will have the effect of curbing the turbulent elements and of permitting the missionaries to carry on their work of charity in the future, free from anxiety and annoyance.
I take this opportunity, etc.,
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