File No. 867.00/705

The Consul General at Beirut (Hollis) to the Secretary of State

No. 857]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith enclosed to the Department three copies of a letter dated the 1st instant which I have received from Rev. James S. Stewart, the leading American missionary [Page 770] at Latakia (a village on the coast about 100 miles north of Beirut), and to report that his account of the state of affairs there was fully borne out by identical letters received by my British, French, Italian, and Russian colleagues from their vice consuls and agents there. Back of Latakia there is a large and savage tribe of totally uncivilized Moslem natives, known as the Nusariehs, who are the direct descendants of the notorious old tribe commonly known as the “Assassins,” and these people would like nothing better than an opportunity to attack and loot Latakia and massacre its non-Moslem inhabitants. I laid this state of affairs before the attention of Captain Oman of the North Carolina, and he decided to call in at Latakia on his way to Mersina and Alexandretta, for which ports he departed at sundown yesterday. All of the Consular Corps here are unanimously of the opinion that this visit will be of great benefit to all of the foreigners residing at Latakia, and to the peaceable and respectable native elements there as well.

I am reporting directly on this matter to the Embassy at Constantinople.

I have [etc.]

W. Stanley Hollis


The Reverend James S. Stewart to the Consul General at Beirut

Dear Sir: Our city has been in a state of excitement and fear for several days. Many of the better class Moslems have sent their families and their valuables back into the country, giving as a reason that some foreign power was about to sack the city. But within the last two or three days a plot has been unearthed which contemplated the destruction of the entire Christian population of the city by the Moslems. The Consuls have prepared a joint report to be sent to their superiors in Beirut by the Khedevial to-morrow, and I hope that you may have a chance to confer with them and see the report.

The mutaserrif and the commander of the troops were promptly informed of the situation, and it is said have taken steps to preserve order and life. We could scarcely believe the story at first, although we knew that the Christians were becoming terror stricken, but now there seems to be no good reason to doubt that such a diabolical plot was under way. In view of the situation, we would like to urge that the appearance of a foreign warship occasionally would be a very great blessing to us.

The Americans are all now at home in Latakia, and also our British associates. We are out of funds and have very little prospect of getting enough to enable us to open our boarding schools, or even to keep our employees from the poorhouse whither we are drifting ourselves. If you have any advice to give us, or better still if you can cash our checks, we would be very glad if you would write immediately, or send a kavass down to tell treasurer Dana.

The French post office here was closed to-day by order of the French Government, so we shall have to confine ourselves hereafter to family gossip. Late this evening I hear that the Moslems are still sending their families to the villages, and that many Christian families are going to sail by the steamer to-morrow for Larnaca, if the authorities will let them depart, which I very much doubt.

With kind regards, [etc.]

James S. Stewart