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Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  "Protestant Diplomacy": Missionary Influence  
First Page


Major Players
Links & Misc.


Mahmut Ozan
Edward Tashji
Sam Weems

 This book on the workings of the missionaries is a frequent addition to Armenian "Genocide" bibliographies: "PROTESTANT DIPLOMACY AND THE NEAR EAST."



EXCERPTS from "PROTESTANT DIPLOMACY AND THE NEAR EAST: Missionary influence on American policy, 1810-1927"

Joseph L. Grabill, Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1971

P.35: Mission blending of society and religion helped Protestant emissaries become important in Ottoman-American relations. Missionaries disavowed union of Church and State but not of Christianity and culture. Since they dealt with the latter dichotomy so little, they were ill-prepared to cope with upheavals in the Empire which inextricably combined politics and religion. When upsets became large in the 1890s, missionaries were then the main interest of the U.S. government in Turkey. Other interests, concerned tourists, academicians, merchants and naturalized Americans. There were diplomatic exchanges not directly concerning the American religionists in the two decades before 1914. But nothing during that period was larger in Turkish-American affairs than the missionaries and their difficulties. - It did not seem in 1810 that missionaries were to become ascendant for Yankee traders then dominated relations between the Western republic and the Ottoman Empire.

P.36: In the span from 1811 to 1820 around eighty American ships stopped at Smyrna, selling cotton goods, tobacco, gunpowder, bread-stuffs and rum (the last being the most important item). In return, American merchants picked up such Turkish exports as nuts, silver, raw wool, and hides, and participated more and more in the opium trade between the Near East and China. After 1815, U.S. government sought to assist commerce through a naval squadron in the Mediterranean, based at Minorca. During the 1820s Henry Clay of Kentucky, who favoured the Greek drive for independence from the Ottoman Empire, thundered in the House of Representatives against pro-Turkish attitude of commercial circles in the U.S.: "A wretched invoice of figs and opium has been spread before us to repress our sensibilities and eradicate our humanity. Throughout the Greek war American opinion was divided between merchants who longed the enlarged trade with Turkey on the one hand, and agrarian and missionary interests, which saw a vindication of Christianity and of America’s self-determination in the Greek rebellion on the other. President James Moore in 1823 came close to recognition of Greek independence. But the U.S. government remained aloof while commerce with the Ottoman Empire expanded. The chief merchant at Smyrna, David Offley, after 1811 led these (Yankee) businessmen. Offley’s Philadelphia firm controlled about 30% of the goods exchanged there. New England was remote and unimaginable to the Sultan. As it was to a later shah of Persia who ordered the preparation of camels for a trip to the White House and sent a man to a London “bazaar” to discover the caravan route to the U.S. Turkey in the early nineteenth century felt no need for formal communication with the U.S., especially since its ships did not touch there and its Greek minority handled most of the transactions at Smyrna. The most the Porte wanted from America was naval aid.

P.37: Negotiations in 1830 produced a treaty of commerce and amity, including most-favored-nation clause, and assurances that American individuals would privately assist in rebuilding the Turkish fleet. Consent to the treaty by the U.S. Senate came a year later. Missionaries and traders alike profited from capitulatory rights – traditional exemptions for Westerners from Ottoman jurisdiction. The 1830s and 1840s were the heyday of a U.S. outreach guided by people other than those of the American Board. American trade and export of technical know-how declined after 1850, hurried by high tariffs passed by the U.S. Congress, lack of governmental interest in the Ottoman Empire, British competition, European imperialism, and other factors. Business concerns opened the American Chamber of Commerce for the Near East in 1911. But economic and technical commitments by U.S. were non-existent compared with German’s Berlin to Bagdat railway and with British, French, Italian and Russian investments.

P.38: Prominent U.S. firms operating in Turkey were the American Tobacco Co., the Standard Oil Co of New York (Socony), the Singer Sewing Machine Co. (with about 200 agencies and stores) and the Western Electric Co. of Chicago. Alongside the Protestant establishment were various Americans, all curious about the physical habitat that nurtured the Christian Scriptures and the Arabian Nights (Missionaries were the chief sources of information about the non-Western world for decades after American Oriental Society’s founding in Boston in 1842.. The work of both of Robinson and Smith and of the Society spurred the appearance of archaeologists, explorers and biblical scholars in the Holy Land. By 1900 such people had founded the American School of Oriental Research at Jerusalem.

P.39: The cumulative effect of missionary and other writings in the U.S. was both an enlarged store of knowledge and a romantic perception of the Near East. While Americans wrote, their diplomatic representatives in Turkey had little to do but seek protection of nationals. Most of these nationals were evangelists, educators, returned emigrants and tourists. The earliest charge d’affaires, then minister resident was David Porters, in Constantinople from 1831 to 1843. - Historian John A. DeNovo has remarked that the White House’s representatives were so relaxed that such missionaries as George Washington of Robert College and Howard Bliss of the Syrian Protestant College often felt they had become do-it-yourself diplomats. Washburn and Bliss directly dealt with British officials in Turkey as well as with local administrates. Troubles around the turn of the century prodded Washington to give the Constantinople officer ambassadorial rank in 1906 and to organize the Division of Near Eastern Affairs within the State Department three years later. Secretary of State Daniel Webster in the 1840’s voiced sympathy for defending Protestant individuals and  institutions. Americans kept pressing for new exemptions from Ottoman law, although such attempts caused
resentment among Turks. Only once was there an extension the Porte revoked this concession in 1884.

The trickle of 2.000 Armenian immigrants into U.S. before 1895 had become a gush of 20.000 by 1914.

 P.40: (In 1914 there were some thirty thousand, mostly Armenian and Arab Americans). Turkish Government protested that these people took unfair advantage of their adoptive citizenship. Partly to serve such people, but more because of mission pressure, United States consuls come to reside at Halab, Iskenderun, Bagdad, Beirut, Erzurum, Harput, Jerusalem, Mersin, Sivas, Smyrna and Trabzon. Occasionally missionaries influenced the choice of a council or vice-council or took the latter office themselves. - At no time did the Protestants from America became agents of the State Department, even though other Western missionaries in Turkey sometimes used capitulatory rights to advance their nations’ imperial interests. – Discomfort for missionaries intensified when in the 1880s Sultan Abdul Hamid the Second harassed their schools, occasionally closing them. Often French and Russian agents encouraged measures against American learning centers, because these agents told Ottoman officials the centers had political object.

P.41 : In exasperation, the American Board in 1885 asked the President use the U.S. Navy to help protect missions in the Empire. Only joint American-British complaints prevented disruption of schools. Fearing an insurrection among Christian minorities, Ottoman leaders became neurotic about American colleges which had an Armenian clientele. – The student body of Anatolia College in 1893 included ninety-four Armenians, twenty-three Greeks and three Turks. Among the teachers Turks claimed there were two members of an Armenian revolutionary organization who had posted at the school treasonable placards printed on a college duplicator. – Turks charged the two Anatolia teachers with treason and condemned them to death; officials also arrested and executed several Merzifon Armenians. Pardoned and exiled because of pleas by British and American diplomats, the two Anatolia College teachers symbolized the growing import of missionaries in Ottoman-American relations. The U.S. Government asked for indemnities from the Porte for mission losses by fire in 1892 and 1893. The Sultan paid $ 2,200 for damage at Anatolia college. Then came terror for the Armenians. Frustrated by small revolutionary Armenian groups, Abdul Hamid promised booty to nomadic Kurds who would pillage Armenians. The Sultan in autumn 1894 also ordered Turkish soldiers to murder Armenians at Sassun West of Lake Van. – About 10 % of the casualties were Protestants.

P.42: The terror of 1895 and 1896 spurred thousands of Armenians to emigrate to the U.S. where they later helped their government to take an active interest in the diplomacy dismembering the Ottoman Empire. The trickle of 2.000 Armenian immigrants into U.S. before 1895 had become a gush of 20.000 by 1914. The Protestant Armenian church in Harput in 1 year alone lost 25% of its 3.000 constituents as immigrants.



The fury of the Sultan and the Turks hit not only Armenians directly, but the American Board. Beside decimating and scattering Armenian Protestants, the turmoil endangered missionary lives when in November 1895 Turks destroyed thousands of dollars worth of Board property at Harput and Marash. – Missionaries soon helped organize relief for thousands of Armenian orphans and widows. A clergyman from a missionary family, Frederick D. Greene, became secretary of the National Armenian Relief Committee. – Missionary son Edwin M. Bliss (also assistant editor of the Independent), with assistance from Cyrus Hamlin, wrote a book on the history of the Armenian question and on the killings. Bliss described the relief movement in the United States: "Armenian Sundays were observed by many churches; collections were taken in churches, Sunday-schools, colleges, societies and mass meetings: journals opened their columns for relief subscriptions; individuals collected funds privately; Armenians throughout the country contributed from their slender resources; and the money was forwarded promptly to the field. "Red Cross and American Board personnel administered aid at missions stations, and the colleges throughout Asia Minor and eventually established orphanages and homes for widows which taught carpentry, tinsmithing, baking, lacemaking and silk culture."

P.43: U.S. Senator Shelby M. Cullom of Illinois introduced a resolution about the Ottoman Empire in Congress. The Cullom Resolution invited the President to ask European powers to “stay the hand of fanaticism and lawless violence” against unoffending Armenians, and promised congressional support for the President "in the most vigorous action he may take for the protection and security of American citizens in Turkey, and to obtain redress for injuries committed upon the persons or property of such citizens”. Persuading the chamber to approve his measure, Cullom helped start what became overly pro-Armenian sentiment in public consideration of the Ottoman Empire. - The heart of all Christendom is stirred to its very depths as it witnesses the piteous pleas of the suffering Armenians beseeching the Christian world to give them protection." Cullom”s style indicated images of public opinion and the imaginal environment within which the government then, and in the years ahead, developed policy toward the Ottoman Empire. The ideas of Cullom were like those of the Protestant relief propagandists. A cartoon distributed by missionaries and their associates, showed Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany congratulating Abdul Hamid as they both stand over an Ottoman map strewn with Armenian skulls and bones.

P.44: Miss Willard claimed Armenians physically resembled "our Lord" more than any other race, were brave, chaste, simple in faith like New Testament Christians, earnest, unarmed, pastoral, peaceful. She castigated Turks as cruel, vindictive, insane, fanatical, wolfish, detestable, savage, torturing Armenians “as could hardly have been excelled if the bottomless pit had vomited forth its leading spirits to urge the battle on.” – What was the outcome of the Cullom Resolution? President Cleveland dispatched to Turkish waters the cruisers San Francisco and Marblehead. He resisted mission pleadings, as in a public letter of Cyrus Hamlin, for aggressive gunboat diplomacy. The 86 –year old Hamlin having missionary children and grandchildren in Turkey, thought a show of American force would stop both the massacres and the attempt of Abdul Hamid to expel the Protestants and destroy their property. – The U.S. government asked the Sultan for an indemnity of around $90.000 for damage to mission property. – The Sultan felt that U.S. schools were a factor behind Armenian disloyalty, a notion that American Minister Alexander W. Terrell allegedly reinforced when he accused the missionaries of "fomenting rebellion". The reparation issue escalated into a matter of U.S. national interest, meriting mention in a presidential message to Congress.

P.45: McKinley’s concern for the indemnity developed in part because Secretary of State John Hay was a cousin of George Washburn, influential president of Robert College. A British ambassador to the Porte was known to give new members of the diplomatic corps in Constantinople a single piece of advice: “Cultivate Dr. Washburn”. Urged by this missionary educator, Americans in the U.S. legation at the Ottoman capital persuaded the commander of the Kentucky, a U.S. vessel passing through the Mediterranean in 1900, to bring his ship to Constantinople. - The Empire finally paid the sum in 1901.

"Turkey has been the object of systematic attacks on the part of the press of [the] U.S. She is represented as being a sink of iniquity."
(Ahmet Rustem, Ottoman ambassador to Washington)


Theodore Roosevelt

Bully boy Teddy

   In addition to the Hay-Washburn relation, there was another mission tie with an American official which after the events of the 1890s assisted missionary interests. This association had begun as a boyhood friendship between Howard Bliss of the Syrian Protestant College and Theodore Roosevelt. A bombastic who deplored the Armenian massacres, Roosevelt declared in 1909: "Spain and Turkey are the two powers I would rather smash than any in the world."

P.46: During the Italo-Turkish War of 1911 and 1912 the White House toyed with an offer of mediation, partly because the American Board and several U.S. peace societies asked for this step. The President abstained. –
One writer has summarized relations between Washington and Constantinople: "It should not be understood that the missionaries exploited American diplomacy or that American diplomacy exploited the missionaries."

P.47: … and despoiling of American Board compounds showed a mission relation to nationalism among minorities in the Near East. Protestant organizations were among private groups in the Ottoman Empire facilitating identity not only among Armenians but also among Arabs, Bulgarians and Albanians. During the first Word War these ties between Americans and minorities would help draws the U.S. into considerations of which countries would gain the lands of the Empire. It appears that the religionists neither endorsed intrigue by Armenians, nor preached political revolt. There is “evidence that Armenian extremists held it against the missionaries that they refrained overtly… supporting the movement for the Armenian independence”. The missionaries’ contribution to violence was insensitivity toward the possible results of their attention to Armenians instead of Turks. Missionaries apparently did not expect that invigoration of the Armeno-Turkish language by a modern bible translation and maintenance of many schools among Armenians would encourage nationalism. American Board members neglected their indirect livening of the conflict. Instead they cried out against Ottoman injustice, and gave the Turks a terrible reputation in the U.S. The Ottoman ambassador to Washington, Ahmet Rustem, remonstrated against oversimplification of his nation’s affairs: "Turkey has been the object of systematic attacks on the part of the press of U.S. She is represented as being a sink of iniquity." – Missionaries did not understand that they were expecting the Porte to react benignly as they trained an Armenian minority in literacy and professions – a minority which included people who spoke of independence. The American Protestants did not imagine how they might behaved if for several decades in their homeland a foreign educational system directed by Muslims had devoted itself to, say, Afro-Americans, with the result that the black Islamic minority became more proficient than the majority of white Americans. – Regarding the troubles of 1894 to 1896, George White of Anatolia admitted that the missionaries at Merzifon were "intensely interested spectators and friends” of the Armenian cause. But White believed they were not at all "actors on the stage."

P.48: White took them food during the year they were in prison. He apparently did not perceive how removing a single revolutionary from a closet did not appear to Turks adequate to show impartiality in Turkish-Armenian tension, especially when compared to White’s general preoccupation with teaching Armenians and his regular visits to jailed Armenian students. At Central Turkey College in Aintab, the thirty faculty members had trouble in 1909 with a secret Armenian revolutionary society among two hundred male students (almost exclusively Gregorian and Protestant Armenians). – The Turks leniently treated the Armenians, who became the favourite non-Muslin minority in the Ottoman government. – The creation of a Tsarist Armenia intensified humiliation among the separated Russian and Turkish Armenians. The Treaty of Berlin made a token statement on behalf of the Armenians, who incorrectly interpreted this comment as a commitment to their freedom. Russia wanted to absorb the Armenians. Britain had a limited interest in an independent Armenia, which would be both inaccessible and peripheral to the route to India. The Treaty of Berlin stimulated nationalism among Russian and Turkish Armenians without Western guarantees of aid, and upped the jitters among Turks without controls on Ottoman hostility.



P.49: Influenced by French and Marxist socialism, Armenians (primarily Russian) sought to force European interposition by starting revolutionary movements. The Hunchakian party appeared in 1887 (but fragmented within a decade) and the Dashnaktsuthiun (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) arose in 1890. The only important group solely Turkish Armenian ’the Armenakan’ began in 1885, and stressed education and self defense rather than revolt. Located in Van, the Armenakan had little relation to the other parties. Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Gregorian leaders among the Armenians did not endorse revolution and were usually apathetic about it. – By the middle 1890s the Dashnaktsuthiun was evolving into the first powerful secular institution in Armenian history. It menaced the status of the Gregorian Church. Attempts by western section of the Dashnaksuthiun to stir Turkish-Armenian brothers aggravated relations with the Porte. Turkish authorities indiscriminately jailed Armenians. Abdul Hamid sought to end talk of rebellion by the massacres, started in 1894 at Sassun and continued the next two years. Armenian revolutionaries in August 1896 temporarily seized the Ottoman Bank headquarters in Constantinople, hoping to bring European intervention. Memoirs of the Armenian volunteer fighter Rouben or Minasian epitomized its work. From 1903 to 908 Minasian operated in roving, clandestine company carrying ten to a hundred men. The band trained Armenians around Lake Van to use arms against preying Kurds, generated propaganda, assisted threatened peasants and administered reprisals against Turks and Kurds – The Young Turk party gave promise of better days when in 1908 and 1909 it cooperated with Dashnaksuthiun to depose Abdul Hamid.

P.50: The new Dashnaksuthiun planks were Armenian autonomy and election of representatives from their party to the Ottoman Parliament. – Militancy and independence again became the platform of Dashnaksuthiun. – Two American missionaries and twenty evangelical Armenian. Pastors died. Five missionary women were fortunate to survive a week’s siege at Hadjin. – British and American warships helped restore order as relief activities began among thousands if refugees. Young Turk investigation brought execution of several Armenians and Turks and compensation to injured Armenians. The government also proclaimed the innocence of Armenians generally and their loyalty to the central authority. – Each millet was a religious community receiving more faithfulness from its adherents than did the central Turk administration. Millets handled marriage, divorce, inheritance, and other personal civil matters and nourished separate languages, courts, tax collections and cultural and educational institutions. After 1863 the Armenians even had their own legislature, which met biennially in Constantinople under the Gregorian Patriarch. As Westernization penetrated the Ottoman Empire, chiefly through French thought, the millets became nuclei for European-style, territorial nationalism.

P.51: Such Christian minorities as the Greeks and Armenians developed interdependence with Western ideas and groups which undermined the Porte’s authority and helped make reforms dead letters. – A sign of the nearly hopeless pulling and tearing in the Ottoman fabric was the multiplication of millets: in 1831 there was only three (Greek Orthodox, Jewish and Armenian Gregorian); in 1914 there were seventeen. – Dashnak groups armed primarily to protect Armenians against Kurdish sackings. – Approximate population figures in the year 1914 for the six vilayets of Asia Minor with largest numbers of Armenians exemplified there: 1,000,000 Armenians (about 30%), 1.000.000 Turks (about 30%) and 650.000 Kurds (about 20%) in a total population of over 3.000.000 people (including Greek, Nestorian, Arab and others). Throughout all of the Ottoman Empire there were probably 1.800.000 to 2.000.000 Armenians.

P.53: In the impossibly brief time from 1908 to 1914, Young Turks strove to create a modern Ottoman state. But in conflicts with such enemies as Italy, Greece and Bulgaria abroad and Armenians at home, the Committee of Union and Progress turned increasingly to assertive Turkification.– Cultural lag within the Empire was helping make relations between Turks and Armenians a sorrowful experience, also for American missionaries.

P.58: Forces released in the Western balance of power helped begin hostilities between the Turks and the Armenians and Arabs, and also begin unprecedented trouble for the Protestants. – The American Protestants at first were not certain what to do. – Their reaction blended many aspects of diversified mission behavior of 1914: evangelistic and ethnocentric zeal (as represented by the slogan ‘Christianize the nations”), theological flexibility, active humanitarianism, and readiness to use government aid for Protestant ends.

...Headlines which made all Turks look like ogres appeared under nearly every dateline in New York Times papers and periodicals.


P.59: The Dashnak’s western section met at Erzurum and rejected proposal of the Porte. The proposal stated that if Russian and Turkish Armenians would cooperate with the Committee of Union and Progress in event of an Ottoman-Russian war, the minority people would receive autonomy under the Empire for three Turkish-Armenian vilayets – Erzurum, Van, Bitlis – and for two Russian-Armenian provinces – Kars and Erivan. - Soon after this meeting at Erzurum, the Russians appealed to the Dashnak-led Armenian National Council in Tiflis. The Tsar promised autonomy to six Turkish-Armenian vilayets as well as the two Russian – Armenian provinces. Earlier a Tsarist minister of foreign affairs reportedly had confided Russia’s aim: “We need Armenia, but without Armenians”. Primarily because of trust in France and Great Britain as associates of Russia. The Armenian National Council accepted the Tsar’s offer. – After a prodding by Germany, hostilities between the Ottoman Empire and the Turks called for a Holy War. Such an act by the rather irreligious Young Turks was partly cynical, to unify Arab and Turkish Muslims to appeal to Russian Muslims.– When Enver’s forces moved across the Russian-Turkish border through the Bardiz pass, Russian-Armenian volunteers held them up at Sarikamish. This Armenian effort gave a Russian military unit to group and defeat the Turks. After this failure, The Committee became convinced that Turkish Armenians were traitors, that not only should the police imprison and execute them but the Army should shoot them.

Clarence Ussher

Dr. Clarence Ussher

P.60: American missions were not critically disturbed until Enver in April 1915 launched an an assault near the city of Van against Turkish Armenians whom he considered treacherous. Van was a center of Armenianism in the Empire (60% of its 50.000 people were Armenians) and the location of both a strong evangelical organization and the Protestant school, American College. Enver’s brother-in-law Jevdet bey on April 16 murdered some individuals in an Armenian delegation from Van calling him to reaffirm loyalty. Led by the Dashnaks, about fifteen hundred Armenian men (many of whom had pledged allegiance to the Ottoman government) prepared to defend themselves and approximately thirty thousand members of their ethnic group in the walled Armenian Quarter. Within a few days an incident set off exchanges of rifle and cannon fire between Turks and Armenians. At the same time, Jevdet’s troops began razing twenty nearby Armenian villages and killing many of their inhabitants. For several weeks the besieged Armenians in Van, possessing a few hundred rifles, withstood Turkish bombardment. The eleven missionaries there, including Clarence Ussher and Ernst A. Yarrow, ministered casualties. Ussher, the only physician in the city, worked from dawn until midnight with Armenians. Two missionary nurses served the wounded among Jevdet’s soldiers at a Turkish hospital. Thousands of Armenians found refuge in the American Board compound, located next to the Armenian Quarter. Missionaries and Armenians sent messages to Russia for aid. As the Tsar’s forces and Russian-Armenian volunteers neared Van the second week in May, Turkish shells fell into mission premises almost incessantly for one day, turning many buildings into rubble. The Turks fled. Next, Armenians “burned and murdered: the spirit of loot took possession of them”. Soon Turkish civilians found shelter and medical treatment in the American Board compound. By August 1915 the Russians had retreated toward Tiflis, with Americans and Armenians joining the exodus. Amid epidemics in this awful withdrawal, Mrs. Ussher and another missionary wife died. Ussher himself barely survived successive cases of typhus, pneumonia, and dysentery; Yarrow nearly succumbed also.

P.61: In May 1915 (Enver) they issued a general order to kill or deport to the southern lowlands and to the Caucasus the entire Armenian population of Asia Minor, nearly all of whom were innocent of treason.-Apparently two officials resigned; some of the rest refused to carry out their instructions. – The basic Turkish method in 1915 was to require Armenians with arms in particular area to surrender them at police headquarters. – At Trabzon the executioners used another method; they transported about ten thousand Armenians on ships out into the Black Sea and forced them overboard to drown.– A dramatic affair concerned a mountain stronghold west of Aleppo, Musa Dagh, where eight hundred armed Armenians held fifteen thousands of Turkish regulars over a month.

P.62: The young man tried to kill at least one Turk before death; he then committed suicide. Using this incident toi charge foreigners from the United States with Armenianism, the Turks drove out the Western religionists as well as bereaved women. This expulsion marked the end of American internationalism among Armenians in Bitlis. Why such a Turkish retribution? Large causes had to do with the millet system, scrambled ethnic groups, cultural lag, and Western interference.

P.63: There is evidence that some Turkish Armenians became Allied agents.. But Van Armenians were not guilty of plotting an uprising against the government. Extermination possibly would not have reached the proportions it did if the Allied armies bound up in the Dardanelles [unable to intervene?]. By early 1916, enormous casualties had been counted among the Armenians, including the missionary constituency, the Evangelical Armenian Church.

P.64: After the British at last withdrew their troops from Gallipoli early in 1916, and McMahon promised ambiguous freedom for the Arabs, Hussein in June of the same year declared war on his surprised Turkish overlords. Helped by T.E.Lawrence of the British Army, Feisal gave direction to the Arab revolt and by December 1916 his men occupied much of the western Arabia. The Arab uprising and the Armenian holocaust brought calamity and massive surge of anguish upon Protestants in the Near East. Cataclysm was the portion of the American Board, whose investments in the Turkish Empire of about twenty million dollars in property and one hundred fifty staff members had fallen by December 1915 to about half of the financial value and personnel. Quite a few missionaries had died in epidemics. Many of the Americans became intensely and righteously determined to salvage as much as they could from a century’s labor, wanting to succor the Armenian remnant and to say "Amen" to punishment of the Turk.

P.65: Liaison between Morgenthau and the missionaries was not new. When in November 1913 he first arrived in the Empire, he had expected the Protestants to be sectarian and narrow. He discovered otherwise. A gregarious, self-confident Democrat, Morgenthau had boundless enthusiasm for public causes. Born in Manheim, Germany, he had emigrated as a child to the United States. Graduating from Columbia College, he went into law and then business and became rich. In the presidential race of 1912 he supported Woodrow Wilson and was financial chairman for the campaign. His reward was appointment to Constantinople. Gates, a mission veteran, had come from the Midwest. After studying at Beloit College and the Chicago Theological Seminary, he had gone to the Turkish Empire for the American Board in 1881 and labored at Mardin. From 1894 to 1902 he was president of Euphrates College in Harput, a school with an Armenian clientele. At one commencement exercise during the period from 1894 to 1896, the students of Euphrates College interrupted the reading of a mild Armenophile statement which Gates had sanctioned, shouting: “Long Live Armenia”.

P.67: Morgenthau, Gates and Peet – men of nearly the same age and similar sympathy for Armenians – knew that much of the missionary structure in the Empire would fall if the Turks continued to eliminate the minority people. They decided that Washington should be notified of the persecutions, By summer Morgenthau had begun sending regular messages to secretary of State, Robert Lansing, who endorsed remonstrance with the Ottomans and with the German ambassador. At Gates’ suggestion Morgenthau worked out a plan for moving Armenians to California. The Young Turks, though quite cold to this notion, were willing to consider it. Morgenthau’s pleas had little effect upon the Turks. In one talk with Minister of Marine Djemal Pasha, the latter asked Morgenthau if Armenians were Americans. Realizing Djemal was stating that the domestic situation was none of his business, the ambassador replied that he was a friend of the Armenians, particularly since an old hand in the United States embassy, Arshag K. Schmavonian, was one, Djemal in his memoirs declared that constant intervention by the West in the Empire had caused Turks, Kurds and Armenians [to] mistreat one another. Talaat declared that Young Turks were firm about finishing a job three quarters done, and justified their acts by several charges against the Armenians: the minority people had enriched themselves at the expense of Turks, had sought independence, and had helped the Russians Enver warned Morgenthau against American preference for minorities. This Young Turk felt that if Armenians allied with the enemy, as in in the Van district, his government would have to squash them.

P.68: Gates felt particularly helpless when the police took thirteen Armenian servants from Robert College and sent them into [the] interior. Peet outlined to American Board headquarters in Boston in 1915 an idea which got by the censors. “The deportation of the Armenians” Peet wrote, requires a pretty large expenditure in order to keep them alive, and this must be our first effort. They are sent generally either into the desert or into an unoccupied territory, or into absolutely new locations, where they will be needing everything, as they have left behind all they had in the world”.


P.69: After 1881 the American Red Cross had taken an increasingly important place in complementing the religionists. The government role throughout had been minor, since Congress had appropriated relief funds only once, and Washington infrequently provided naval transport for gifts. Early in the First World War came benevolence for Arabs. When in 1914 the Ottoman authorities in Syria requisitioned food and animals, famine followed, bringing death to many people. Out of this tradition of fund-raising for the Near East arose Peet’s scheme of August 1915. By then thousands had escaped Asia Minor, hudling to Caucasus, Syria and Mesopotamia where Americans could possibly aid them. An important call which arrived in the United States after the Peet letter was a confidential cable of September 3 from Morgenthau to the State Department. “Enver Pasha has promised” the ambassador related, “the departure of such Armenians to the United States I vouch as bonafide.” Crane turned to Woodrow Wilson and contributed 50.000 Dollars in the 1912 campaign. Wilson then offered the ambassadorship to Russia. Crane refused. Thus Crane, whose one son had become Secretary of the State Lansing’s personal secretary in May 1915, had several handles on machinery which could help the Armenians. The United States consul in Aleppo currently reported over 150.000 refugees in the area, with hundreds dying daily. The consul recommended 150,000 Dollars a month to meet the needs of that locality alone. The Dodhe Relief Committee proceeded to reinforce in the American mind the image of the unspeakable Turk. During the last two weeks of September 1915 headlines which made all Turks look like ogres appeared under nearly every dateline in New York Times papers and periodicals. “Mission Board told of Turkish Horrors, 10.000 Christians Drowned in Trabzon. Women seized for Harems”.

Holdwater: "Crane" must be Charles R. Crane, businessman from New York, Board of Trustees President of a missionary college (Constantinople College for Women), and a former secretary of the original Committee on Armenian Atrocities in 1915. He is most famous for being one half of the King Crane Commission.

P.72: At the Bosphorus, Morgenthau, Gates and Peet continued as an Armenophile triumvirate. The three men could transfer funds from the United States but they did not have approval of the Porte to distribute relief goods. Gates worked on Talaat, and the diplomat on Enver. Both Ottomans hesitated because they felt that large outside help would stimulate rebellion. The Young Turks angrily spurned attempts by the Americans to end the death marches or to plead a special dispensation for Protestant Armenians. Only four of some forty board members of the ACASR board were either Jews or Catholics.

P.73: Barton soon was dominant Board administrator. In the position of foreign secretary he gave priority to educational missions, becoming perhaps the outstanding American promoter of colleges abroad. He eventually assisted the start of development of twenty interdenominational Christian schools of higher learning in Spain, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, India, Ceylon, China, and Japan, helping them secure over thirty million dollars. In a constant dialogue with the United States government, Barton sought to guard Protestant institutions in Turkey and elsewhere. With Barton as ACASR head, missionaries felt that not all would be lost. After months of dismay, the Protestant to Turkey began to hope again. During the winter of ACASR’s birth in 1915 and 1916, Morgenthau left for home. When he reached New York city the executive committee of the ACASR met him on [the] docks.

Ambassador Abraham Elkus

Abraham Elkus

P.74: Barton soon got him to speak in Massachusetts and to meet privately with the trustees of the American Board. In Boston the ambassador made nearly ecsastic remarks about the missionaries, and spoke of his abhorrence of the Turks. Ostensibly, he had come back for a vacation. But he had no intention of returning to the Empire. He desired to assist President Wilson’s re-election. Together with Crane, he decided on a Jewish attorney, Abraham I. Elkus, as his successor at the Porte. Wilson approved. The Board secretary wanted to make sure that Elkus was “indoctrinated… to defend American institutions to the last”. Just before Elkus; departure for Constantinople in August 1916, Barton sponsored a banquet at which representatives of the religious groups in Turkey were present. Satisfied he wrote to Morgenthau: "I was very pleased with him and with his outlook to the work". In relations with Peet and Gates during his short-lived eight month tenure at the embassy, Elkus lived up to Barton’s evaluation. Barton also cultivated the prestigious Britisher, James Bryce, who had known many American Protestants in the Ottoman Empire for decades. Bryce had a wide repute as an attorney, sometime professor of law at Oxford, former member of the House of Commons and several British Cabinets, author of the famous American Commonwealth, and ambassador to United States from 1907 to 1913. The Englishman had gone to climb Ararat in 1876, beginning his fascinations with the Armenians, By 1880 he had concluded that to expect the Turk to respect rights of minorities was useless. He became the principle Armenophile in Britain and founder of an Armenophile society. Bryce felt that the potential revitalizers of Asia Minor. In 1914 he visited Howard Bliss at the Syrian Protestant College; after the Armenian conflagration of 1915, he and Barton corresponded. The Englishman persistently tried in the House of Lords and other places to get British troops into Armenia. To block the Turks. But he always heard that London could not spare soldiers from other areas.


 P.75: Barton’s chief effect in working with Bryce was a book edited by the Britisher and informally put together by the ACASR and a young scholar specializing in the history of the Ottoman Empire, Arnold J. Toynbee. Considerably over half the documents in the book, a 684-page volume, had come to the American and Presbyterian boards from Armenian refugees and other witnesses of the deportation. The purpose of this work, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-16, was to attract favor for relief and for Armenian interests. The American Board secretary in 1916 ordered three thousand copies from Toynbee for influential personages, President Wilson and his adviser Colonel Edward M. House, were among those who received the book. The New York TIMES on October 8, 1916, included three pages of extracts from The Treatment. Lobbying for the ACASR, Barton obtained much support from the U.S. government. Beginning in 1915, Peet at the Bosphorus used diplomatic pouch to avoid censorship. By mid-1916 local ACASR committees had been formed in thirty-eight cities, in sixteen states, with each spreading information and raising money. To awaken the country’s consciousness Barton and his associates persuaded the Congress to pass a resolution of compassion for Armenians and Syrians. Barton also recommended that the President of U.S. appoint a special day in October 1916 for relief collections. The ACASR chairman appealed to Wilson: "Tens of thousands have miserably perished and still the assassin’s hand is not withdrawn." The President complied. Many state and local figures issued similar statements. The American Board head made ACASR prppaganda a major factor in expanding the relief movement; public relations was this executive’s forte.

P.76: Barton in 1915 recruited a professor of church history at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, William Walker Rockwell, to prepare several pieces on the Armenians.
Titles of the three booklets were The Pitiful Plight of the Assyrian Christians in Persia and Kurdistan, The Deportation of the Armenians (an eyewitness account) and Ravished Armenia: the story of Aurora Mardigonian willing concubine to a Turkish officer and went through imprisonment, escape, recapture, and rape. Eventually ACASR had rescued Aurora. These pieces were not good enough for the American Board publicist in Boston. Impatient with their dispassionate quality and with Rockwell’s slowness, Barton delegated pamphleteering to men who used such titles as Atrocities – Talaat Bey Boasted that He Would Make the Armenians Pray for Massacre and He Has. Enlarging on the idea of the terrible Turk which Americans had accepted since the 1890s, the ACASR aroused hostility against Turks as brutally inhuman, degenerate agents of German Huns; it glorified Armenians as responsible Christian victimized by Muslims. These astigmatic views portrayed religion as almost the exclusive problem in Asia Minor and ignored ethnic, economic, and political factors. Notions built up in this campaign would later militate against the understanding of Near East realities needed by the people and government of the United States to fulfill the missionaries’ postwar desires. One would have to look endlessly for some American comment presenting the Turkish point of view. The closest to the Ottoman perspective was a concession that the Turkish peasant was not a bad sort; it was his leaders who were bad. Pages and columns of newspapers and magazines were full of such Social Darwinist tone as the following in the Independent of October 18, 1915: “Intellectually and physically they (the Armenians) are vastly superior to the Turks.

P.77: "In education, enterprise, industry and love of home they surpass all the other races. This ancient and proud spirited race. Conscious of its own innate superiority, ambitious to educate its children, Christian in religion, and eager for progress, cherished the hope of an independent Armenia reestablished upon the ruins of its ancient kingdom. We can hardly conceive of any power’s favoring the perpetuation of Turkey in any form after this ghastly exhibit (massacres) of Moslem incapacity to rule alien peoples or even Mohammedans." In addition to money, people gave jewelry, heirlooms and wedding gifts. The Rockefeller Foundation in 1915 and 1916 gave over $ 300,000, and the proceeds of the Harvard Yale football game of 1916 went to ACASR. Dodge facilitated relief in the Near East by persuading the richest charitable group in the United States, the American Red Cross, to assist. The Christian Herald and the Literary Digest helped solicit. By the time United States declared war on Germany, the ACASR had raised over $ 2,000,000 and had the second largest income of any American philanthropic institution. In the Ottoman Empire, the Young Turks until 1916 did not permit relief goods to enter. Probably German missionaries to Turkey indirectly pressed the Porte through their government to allow food and clothing in the Empire.

The relief goods went almost entirely to non-Turks.


P.78: American missionaries, diplomats and consuls distributed aid; mission properties became relief centers. The following individuals served on the local relief committee in Constantinople: Elkus, Lewis Heck (embassy official), Gates (RC president), Peet, Luther R. Fowle (Peet’s assistant) and Elizabeth Huntington (Dodge’s daughter and staff member at Robert College). The relief goods went almost entirely to non-Turks. Muslim received about 2% of relief’ Armenian and Arab Christians obtained most of the rest. Constantinople was allowed 35%, Tiflis 30%, Beirut 13% and Tehran and Persai [Persia?] 20%. Nestorian and Armenian displaced persons in Persia, wards of the Presbyterians, received most of Tehran’s share. Favoritism for Christian minorities did not promote goodwill with Muslims, many of whom were destitute and pitiable.


Barton did not forget the American Board and other Protestant Institutions as he pushed the ACASR. He tried in letter in April 1916 to "instill a little more ginger" in Secretary of State Lansing, to get security for Americans and the forty million dollars invested over [the] years by the different evangelistic, educational, and medical mission groups in the Ottoman Empire. This gesture was like in autumn 1914 when Protestant commercial interests in Turkey requested warships to deter the Porte from acting against Americans and minorities (soon the North Carolina and the Tennessee were in the eastern Mediterranean). At that time the Committee of Union and Progress formally sought to quiet United States fears, with Enver going so far to enroll his brother and two sons in special classes at Robert College.

The apprehension of Americans hardly disappeared over the first months of combat, because trade virtually ceased and several mission stations closed. In his worry of April 1916 Barton came out in the letter to Lansing with the exaggeration that no country other than the United States "has so extensive or long established financial interests in Turkey and the Balkans". In reply, the Secretary of State assured him of protection of persons, not property. On a sophisticated scale, ACASR practiced conditional altruism not like that practiced by one untutored American contributor to the ACASR. This contributor wrote that since sending his gift "I have thought I would like to have one of the bri[gh]test of the (Armenian) girls about 16 years old to live with me I would make a lady out of hire and when she is at a good age probably marry her". Former ambassador to the Porte, Oscar Straus, had noted as early as December 1914 in an article that mission endeavor in Turkey would be an "important factor" in the postwar development of the Ottoman Empire. Barton and Dodge wanted a Turkish reconstruction which would advance missions.


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P.164: (A play in Barton’s game) While Paris deliberated about Syria, the American Committee for Relief in the Near East was achieving considerable financial success in its effort to erect a new Near East. Its campaign to raise thirty million dollars had fallen short. But it distributed goods worth nine million dollars in the first half of 1919 and dispensed much of ten million dollars in grain and other commodities Hoover’s American Relief Administration had allocated. Its propaganda increased in sophistication and intensity. The monthly News Bulletin received editorial help from Talcott Williams of Columbia University’s journalism faculty. The ACRNE sent a team to Turkey to prepare a movie version of Ravished Armenia, the story of Aurora Mordigonian. After conducting previews for prominent figures, the relief group showed the movie at theatres in fifty cities. Announcements portrayed a scantly clad Aurora with hands behind her back, dragged by a stallion. Scenes in the movie included flogging of girls who refused to enter Turkish harems, [and] a nailing of twelve Armenian maidens to crosses. As to ACRNE rallies, ex-President Taft declared in Pittsburgh that the Armenian had made Near East valleys bloom like a rose. Morgenthau (chairman of the ACRNE finance committee) stated elsewhere that unless [the] United States aided Armenians the "race will die". A newspaper article with the headline, "War’s End No Relief from the Outrage to Armenians and Syrians in Persia", mentioned such phrases as fanatical Muslims, five hundred women forced to accept Islam, and "absolutely destitute Christians in most abject misery". A full-page ACRNE advertisement in the New York Times, reprinted from Literary Digest, presented two pictures: the first was four million Armenian and Syrian Christians living in lands made luminous by the footprints of Jesus, the second was Christ-led Americans rescuing needy Near Easterners.

P.165: Meanwhile at the beginning of the Peace Conference, Barton had considered with Colonel House the relation of the ACRNE to the Eastern Question. Seeking a quick commitment by the Supreme Council on the Ottoman Empire, the American Board secretary told House that efficient relief and resettlement of Armenian refugees depended on the Council’s conclusion about Turkey. The Barton Relief Commission left early in February 1919 for Constantinople. Dodge’s business associate, Arthur James, remained in Paris as a liaison; James arranged for the passage of what was eventually several hundred relief workers from France to Turkey. In the Ottoman Empire the Commission received red-carpet treatment. British authorities furnished storage and ordered their troops to guard relief supplies; the French and Italians helped. Americans aided the most. Hoover sent a man to Asia Minor to coordinate the American Relief Administration with ACRNE, especially controlling wheat speculators. Hoover allowed Relief Administration grain to go through the ACNE, particularly for Caucasus. His agency was soon was delivering cereal at the rate of five thousand tons a month. This relief helped make known the American Board – it prompted Georgians to ask for missionaries in their nation. The first of three ships provided by the U.S. Navy, the Mercurius, docked in Constantinople on Feb.12 with over a million dollars’ worth of goods, including 2.000 tons of flour, 2.500 cases of canned foods, 500 cases of condensed milk, 18 trucks, 20 ambulances, 500 sewing machines, 200 oil stoves, 1.750.000 yards of cloth, 50.000 blankets, 800 hospital cots, 26 tents, 78 X-ray machines and 200 tons of coal.

P.166: On the Leviathan which left New York February 16, were 240 mission and relief personnel, including 30 physicians and 60 nurses. Missionary Charles Riggs was in the Leviathan party. Landing in Constantinople early in March 1919, Riggs immediately became local treasurer of the Barton Relief Commission; co-passenger George White of Anatolia College became director of personnel. The Barton-led expedition got every assistance from Mark L. Bristol, a rear admiral who was agent of the American Peace Commission and the U.S. Navy at the Porte. Bristol met daily with the Barton Relief Commission centered in the American Consulate. The admiral put destroyers at its disposal and was "spokesman wherever necessary in dealing with the Turkish Government, as well as with the officials of European Governments residing in Constantinople." A solid-jowled career officer, he shared with a State Department commissioner U.S. representation in Turkey. In August 1919 he would take over the State Department function. He had close ties with missionary educators in Constantinople, visiting often their homes, residing weekends at Woman’s College.

  Gates’ evenhandedness so upset Armenian workers at Robert College that they planned a strike.


P.167: From the Caucasus such statements as the following went to ACRNE at home: "Saw Refugee Women stripping flesh from dead horse with bare hands today… Another week will score ten thousand lives lost. For heaven’s sake hurry." Missionary Ernest Yarrow succeeded Main in May 1919 the latter went back to the U.S. Groups similar to the Main contingent went by train or U.S. destroyer to various parts of the Empire. George Washburn led a party to Konya, Harold Hatch to Samsun, Stanley White and Aaron Teitlebaum to Syria and Palestine. Other leaders took workers to such places as Smyrna, Adana and Bursa. Directed by American Board secretary Barton and accompanied by Caleb Gates and Gate’s son, a twenty-two-car relief train set out on the Baghdad railway, headed straight into evidences about Armenian massacres. The Protestants on the train discovered that the deported minority of Asia Minor usually had not dared to try to repossess its seized property From Aintab three older Gates winced: "We have heard many sad, sad tales here". At Urfa young Moore Gates came up with rather stupefying data: only twelve out of four thousand houses were intact in the Armenian Quarter, no more than five hundred of twenty thousand former inhabitants of the Quarter were left, fewer than five hundred Armenian children were in orphanages there, the Protestant Church building was empty ! This information was fuel for Barton’s Armenianism. It heated his conscience; he thought it wrong that no Western armies were occupying Anatolia in 1919 to provide security for Armenian survivors to find their broken houses and start afresh. He therefore left his group at Aleppo to go to Cairo for a few days, where early in April he sought persuade General Allenby to send British regiments into Asia Minor.

P.169: President Gates had left the relief train at Aleppo and retraced his way to Robert College. There he made a speech, called “bombshell” by one missionary, which warned against hope for a final enlightenment of the Muslim-Christian enigma. Less of an Armenophile and farther-seeing than the ACRNE chairman, Gates felt that any treaty setting up a separate Armenia would be unwise. Unless the Peace Conference regarded Armenian and Turkish disputes within a single frame – preferably a mandate by the United States – strife between Muslims and Christians would persist, The missionary believed that Turks would adjust to this mandate if the Allies acted quickly. In his last comments Gates said: "I have been astonished at the ardor and unanimity with which the peoples of Asia Minor, both Turks and Christians, express their desire for an American protectorate”. Gates’ evenhandedness so upset Armenian workers at Robert College that they planned a strike. Some Armenians in Constantinople were angry enough to think of seeking Gates’ removal as head of the missionary school. With endorsement from Admiral Bristol, Gates departed the Bosporus on April 24 to present his view at Paris.

P.170: After the Barton Relief Commission was in Turkey, the Herald editor exuberated: It is the biggest advertisement of particular Christian altruism that the world has ever had. The men that are in it are making a demonstration that will never be blotted out of history’s page. How’s that for a rhetoric?” Rumor in Paris was that members of the Barton Relief Commission were to be part of the future administration of Turkey. The jests of Strong were not hiding the factor that a unique demonstration of Christian altruism was a play in Barton’s game. The American Board leader wanted to get an ace, the Woodrow card, on the Near East table. A poor sign was Barton’s own unwillingness to give credence to Turkish as well as Armenian nationalism, as the Robert College head had done in his speech at Constantinople. There was no small irony in that for a period of several days in May 1919, two symbolic individuals – Barton, the West’s chief Armenophile, and Mustafa Kemal Pasha, the future “father” of Turkey – were in the Samsun-Sivas region and did not speak with each other. The ACRNE chairman coddled Armenians and scarcely communicated with the leaders of the Turkish ethnic group, by then the overwhelmingly majority people of the Eastern Anatolia.

P.171: Peripatetic Barton had the capability not only to mastermind philanthropy but to compose memorandas and other documents indefatigably. At Paris under Boghos Nubar’s pleadings, he had given attention to Armenia. Boghos insisted with good intuition, but without success, that he needed Barton’s guidance in France. The American Board secretary was the principal person to the mission-relief strategy. While there, he was active for Boghos’ cause: “We have spent much time with the Peace Comm.,” he wrote. “I think we will be able to do a good thing for Armenia”. The Supreme Council should put a single mandate, preferably by the United States, over the entire country. In an article for the Missionary Herald, he remarked that leading Muslims were speaking freely of the United States and not Europe as the ideal: “The Turks honor and respect American missionaries, their character, integrity and fairness… They know America only as they have learned through American missionaries. Removed from Gates; counsel by April, Barton in his messages thereafter dropped references to a single mandate for all of Turkey. Fresh from hearing sorrowful stories among the ethnic group to which he had given much of his life, he cabled House and others that the Armenians at once should have a guaranteed independence. He begged for a strong mandate immediately: “The Turkish Government is not preventing new atrocities to the Armenians”. Barton’s intimates in the American Board also advertised a United States role in the Near East. A Missionary Herald editorial in March 1919, said that Turkey, because of Protestant education and humanitarianism there should fall to America.


P.172: The Armenian Missionary Association, a group that the American Board had helped organize in America, resolved the deep appreciation to Barton for his acts on behalf of its countrymen overseas. The Armenian Missionary Association requested the Board to facilitate aspirations of Armenia for independence under United States wing. The words of Dodge and Williams about an obligation by Washington in the Near East were similar to the contentions of three presidents of mission colleges in Turkey. The president of International College in Smyrna, Alexander MacLachlan, responded to a request from the American Peace Commission for his view on a Greek occupation of Smyrna. “Of all the possible solutions of the Near East end of the peace settlement,” he wrote, “the one proposed is the worst. It cannot fail to be disastrous for both Turkey and Greece. Turkey will never submit to Greek domination. So long a Greek armed force remains in Asia Minor we who are domiciled here will be doomed to live under bitter war conditions”. His analysis could not have been more accurate.

P.173: He believed a healing could come to Turkey if Allied troops would replace Greek and if the Council would end its scheme of sovereignty by Athens over southeastern Anatolia: “the country can only be saved from ruin under protection of a British or American mandate.” The head of Constantinople Woman’s College, Marry Patrick, went to [the] French capital at the end of June and there prepared an article imitating the Fourteen Points: “Fourteen Reasons for an American Mandatory over Turkey”. Point one on the distaff side argued that “All the people of the Near East would welcome an American mandatory”. Armenians, Greeks, Turks would prefer the United States, Miss Patrick said in her other points, because they felt it would be more democratic than other nations, would promote harmony among ethnic groups, introduce a superior educational system, not exploit the country commercially, and stay forever. The American Committee for the Independence of Armenia (ACIA), the institution whose founding Dodge and Barton had aided late in 1918 neglected all Ottoman peoples except Armenians. In contrast to ACIA, Caleb Gates upheld the unity of Asia Minor and showed a considerable objectivity about minorities there.

P.174: Writing member of the American Peace Commission, he said: “I think that the crux of the Near East Question is not the Armenians but the Turks. The attention of the Peace Conference should be centered upon giving the Turks a good government rather than upon delivering the Armenians and Greeks from the Turkish government. Because it will be of little profit to establish an Armenia, more than half of whose people will be Turks, if alongside of this new State there remains a Turkey of the old type… To save the Armenians and the Greeks you must save the Turks also”. Wilson read this statement of Gates and said it was interesting and important. In Paris the Robert College president opposed Greek control of Smyrna, broad territorial claims by Armenians, and the International Commission on Mandates in Turkey. Mark Bristol shared much of Gate’s outlook. The admiral wrote that the Greek landing at Smyrna and other factors pointed to the absolute need of combining all of the Ottoman Empire under one mandate. Turks were leaning toward America as a mentor. After trips into Asia Minor, Bristol stated that Greece’s possession of Smyrna had antagonized Turks tremendously and would make an Ottoman treaty difficult. Seeking to point out from the Greek abuse of Turks in Smyrna that ethnic peoples in the Near East were alike, Bristol claimed that if someone would put all races “in a bag and shake them up you could not predict which one would come out first as being the best one”. The admiral disapproved of excessive pro-Greek and pro-Armenian propaganda in the United States. He believed it encouraged an American idea about the Empire which would create a new Balkan mess.

P.175: Henry Morgenthau combined the best views of Bristol, Gates and Barton; using an invitation to help the International Red Cross as an excuse to get to France, the finance chairman of the ACRNE on the first day of arrival, in March 1919, had conversations with Wilson, House and Hoover. He prepared a memorandum for Wilson: "The Future Government of Asia Minor". Morgenthau memorandum advocated that one nation, the United States or else Britain, supervise each of the three mandates” Constantinople, Turkish Anatolia and Armenia. The document included much from the overlapping views about Turkey held by people in or related closely to the Protestant lobby. The paper rejected a totally independent Armenia. It took into account the prediction that such an entity with its mixed population would not easily escape hostilities with Turks. (The ACIA felt that the Morgenthau Memorandum’s failure to approve unqualified freedom for Armenia was immoral). It was most importantly an unorthodox policy proposal, capitalizing Wilson’s prescription of a mandate system for Turkey, overriding the secret treaties, disregarding the Cobb-Lippmann and other explanations of Point Twelve, admitting a long-term U.S. embroilment in the Old World. But the Morgenthau Memorandum had important weaknesses. It came late in the Peace Conference. Further, the American public had little or no conditioning to the idea of a U.S. mandate, an idea which probably required the experience in mission-relief-government coordination developed by Barton during the years since 1915, and the American Board secretary was nearly inaccessible to Paris, having left a command post there for scouting in Asia Minor.

P.176: Perhaps it was mission-minded Prof. Albert Lybyer of the University of Illinois who kept the International Commission from expiring, Lybyer had taught for seven years (until 1906) at Robert College. Partly because of this experience, he had been able to write a book on Turkey, one of the best by Americans on Ottoman affairs. He had been one of the activists in the ACRNE. In Paris since Dec. 1918, a specialist on the Balkans within the U.S. delegation, he had worked with Crane, Bliss, Gates, Barton and Peet for American sponsorship of Armenians and Syrians. He also had contacts with such missionary professors visiting Paris as L. Scipio and Abraham Hagopian of Robert College.


P.177: At one point, Gout (French appointee) accused the American missionaries of using ACRNE philanthropy as a bid for United States territorial control of part of the Ottoman Empire; Lybyer protested moralistically. … the French intended to have Syria regardless. The fraudulent de Caix Note, accepted as authentic by the U.S. Peace Commission, led the Americans next day to decide that the Ottoman Empire was the great loot of the war and that the International Commission would be senseless. Other voices helping in this capitulation to the old diplomacy were those of the United States Zionists. The Zionists had seen that polling Arabs in Palestine was not the best way to create sentiment for a Jewish homeland and had been importuning Wilson and House with their anxieties. For years the American Zionist movement had been growing, but its competition with missionary diplomacy had not become clear until the Peace Conference.

[T]he frail Erivan Republic on its first birthday (May 28), proclaimed the annexation of six Turkish-Armenian vilayets
(p. 184)

P.178: Some U.S. ministers and consuls to Turkey in the late nineteenth century had taken an active interest in Jewish immigration to Palestine. Many American Protestants, like Presbyterian clergyman William Blackstone, had supported Zionism. In 1916 the Presbyterian General Assembly passed a resolution, sponsored by Blackstone, which endorsed [a] Jewish homeland. Wilson’s daily Bible reading aided assumption that since Jews and Armenians were people of the Bible they were certain to be reborn politically after the war. In 1919 pro-Arab missionaries like Bliss did not feel the same as Wilson and Blackstone about Zionism. These missionaries sensed the strife inherent between Arab nationalism and Zionism: they were not as much anti-Zionist as pro-Arab. An expert with the British peace delegation, Arnold Toynbee, on Saturday, April 19, stimulated Lybyer;s imagination. Toynbee informed him that Lloyd George had selected Henry McMahon (former high commissioner in Egypt), the scholar David Hogarth, and Toynbee himself for the British section of the International Commission.

P.179: By talking self-determination, America had stirred Arab emotions in Beirut, Damascus, Jerusalem and environs. One reason for the U.S. was not assertive about an investigation related to Armenia. For months the assumption among the Allies in Paris had been that the United States should take mandates for Armenia and Constantinople. Lloyd George and Clemenceau desired American obligations to Turkey because each leader mistrusted the other country’s gaining an edge in the Asia Minor settlement. Both were willing to let the United States assume the portions allotted to Russia in the nefarious secret treaties. Lloyd George especially liked the stability the presence of the U.S. could give to the Near East. In all this talk, no one urged a field study in eastern Anatolia. The massacres had depleted the Armenians there so much that nowhere were they a majority of the population. Since it seemed best to resolve the Armenian matter at Paris without an investigation, Wilson and House could see how the French felt about Syria.

P.180: The President thereupon wrote Dodge: “You need not doubt my advocacy of the utmost autonomy and protection for the Armenians and I am sure you do not”. Barton’s nine point plan for an integral Armenia under U.S. tutelage, noted above, went to the Peace Commission on January 28th. At Supreme Council sessions two days later, Wilson hinted about a United States duty in Turkey. Lloyd George, influenced by James Bryce and other British Armenophiles, said the duty should be in Armenia. On February 8 the President wrote his Secretary of War, asking if it was legal to dispatch American soldiers to Armenia and Constantinople. He got an affirmative opinion, with the caution that bring-the-boys-home demands were increasing. Then the New York Federation of Churches cabled Wilson asking British or Armenian supervision for the Armenians in Asia Minor. Disembarking in Boston after recrossing the Atlantic, Wilson in a speech of February 24 orated there: “Have you thought of the sufferings of Armenia? You poured out your money to help succor the Armenians… Now set your strength so they shall never suffer again. Lodge sympathized with Wilson’s view, though he wanted nothing to do with America’s appearing to help what he believed were tyrannical Turks”.

P.181: Unexpectedly, it was Italy’s avarice for Adalia in southwestern Anatolia, not United States assent to a separate Armenian mandate of French cupidity for Syria, which first produced a dramatic display of the West’s intent toward Turkey. Italian Premier V. Orlando was a nineteenth century imperialist guided by an excited feeling in his country that the promises of Adalia in Anatolia and other spoils to Italy by Britain and France at St.Jean de Maurienne in 1917 and in other secret agreements were sacred. Then Wilson on April 24, 1919, showed in the Supreme Council and in a press release an indomitable opposition to Italy’s violating the Fourteen Points by seeking to annex the Slavic speaking city of Fiume. Orlando thereupon left Paris and from Rome planned a retaliation. Within a week the Italian government sent warships to Fiume across the Adriatic Sea and to Antalya. Soon Italians were ashore at points on the Turkish coast and moving inland. An occupation of Smyrna seemed imminent. At news of Italy’s actions reached Paris, consternation arose not least within missionary Caleb Gates, who had arrived at the French capital early in May. This Robert College educator had said for months that procrastination over the Ottoman settlement would lead to the use of force. Consulting the American Peace Commission, Gates advocated a quick Supreme Council decision on the Ottoman Empire. He desired a U.S. mandate over Turkey down to the Arab-speaking line. As for Armenians, he believed only Western troops in Asia Minor could save them. To proclaim a separate Armenia without Allied soldiers in the area would cause a massacre.


P.182: The Supreme Council finally discussed the complicated situation. Llyod George perceived that the best way to block Italy’s unilateral moves, was an overall revision of the status of Western troops in Turkey. On May 5 he urged U.S. garrisons for Armenia and Constantinople, French garrisons in Syria, and Greek in Smyrna. His last suggestion came partly of his own Phillhellenism and out of Greek Premier E. Venizelos’ eloquent misapplication of self-determination to the Greek minority in the Smyrna region. Lloyd George hoped that Athens could become an ally of London and a bulwark against possible Russian expansion. In these discussions Wilson balked. He feared anti-Turkish opinion at home (including that of Senator Lodge) and was unsure of political backing for sending soldiers into Anatolia since his nation had not been a belligerent against the Porte. He was afraid to order the U.S. Army into Turkey, in spite of his Secretary of War’s opinion that such a move would be legal. Indeed, the Terrible Turk picture, mostly developed by the ACRNE, was boomerang. The anti-Turk stereotype was returning to strike the missionaries’ desires for American protection at Armenia. Wilson went along with Lloyd George’s wish to have Greeks land regulars at Smyrna; he did not bring into play his earlier private statements against splitting Anatolia. The tired President had an inadequate touch with his experts. They were vociferously against a region around Smyrna under Athens’ control. Wilson apparently was familiar with missionary MacLachlan’s statement against a Greek occupation, but possibly did not realize that Greece and Turkey had been fratricidal enemies for a century, as Italy and Turkey had not been. To throw Greek liquid on the Italian flame in southwestern Anatolia was to add gasoline rather than water.

James Gerard

Armenophile James Gerard  

P,183: Hearing of Gates' proposal for a unified Asia Minor, Gerard of the ACIA cabled House, irresponsibly charging Gates with being more interested in converting Muslims than in defending Armenia. Gerard said the U.S. under no conditions would accept a mandate which included horrible Turks. Boghos Nubar soon expressed similar shock to House. The loose confederation of educators, philanthropists, evangelists, Armenians, and Armenophiles which Barton and Dodge had so laboriously put together in 1918 had begun to come apart. By the next day, May 14, Wilson must have sensed he had neither battalions ready nor support at home to hold out for a unified Anatolia, Also, of course, he had given his blessing for a Greek army at Smyrna. So the weary man bowed to the imperialists, even to Italian leader Orlando, and endorsed resolutions tentatively assigning mandates for Smyrna to Greece, Adalia to Italy, and central Anatolia and Cilicia to France. Subject to confirmation by the Senate, the U.S. was to have Armenia and Constantinople. Within twenty-four hours the Greek military, escorted by an Allied squadron, landed in Smyrna. The Greek invaders then ripped fezzes and robes off Turks, and forced them to cheer the Greek premier: “Long live Venizelos”. According to eyewitness Alexander MacLachlan of International College, Greeks killed over five hundred Muslims in acts “absolutely barbaric” and “equal to the worst that the Turks have ever done”. This was an auspicious way for the West to civilize the Turks. A few days after the Greek intrusion the infuriated Turkish general, Mustafa Kemal, took a self-appointed lead in organizing a Turkish movement in eastern Anatolia to protect Asia Minor from the European protectors. Soon the frail Erivan Republic on its first birthday (May 28), proclaimed the annexation of six Turkish-Armenian vilayets and increased the anger of Kemalist Turks.

P.184: Gates' prescience about conflict if the Allies sundered Anatolia was becoming a reality. Edgar Fisher at Robert College sensed the foolishness of the Greek occupation. The reasoning of the Peace Conference leaders, he believed, was "inexplicable, unless they are acting on the policy of stirring up as much discontent as possible". As to the Smyrna hinterland where Greeks began devastating Muslim villages, a Turkish graduate of Robert College told Fisher that he was helping organize Turkish volunteers to resist. Meanwhile, in Paris such associates of the missionaries as Washburn, Morgenthau, and Bryce were rushing to help Gates' program. James Bryce was trying through Secretary of State Lansing to end the current portioning ideas of the Allies. Bryce particularly did not want the French to detach Armenians in Cilicia from an integral Armenia under an American mandate. On May 21 Morgenthau sent to Wilson his paper already, discussed, “The Future Government of Asia Minor”, a document supported by many U.S. delegates. The Morgenthau Memorandum insisted that the secret treaties had no place in the Anatolian settlement. Under no circumstances should Greeks and Italians receive any part of that area. "Only a comprehensive self-contained scheme" such as tripartite protection of the whole of northern Turkey "can overcome the strong prejudices of the American people against accepting any mandate".

P.185: Not mellowed by his eighty years Clemenceau retorted angrily; the wrinkled French Premier, wearing his black skull cap, suspected an Anglo-American collaboration to lock France out of the Near East. After Clemenceau’s outburst, Wilson calmly said he felt that it should be better not to divide Anatolia, yet was uncertain whether the Republicans would permit a U.S. mandate over Asia Minor. "I will examine the question of mandate, but it seems impossible that America will accept this mandate. But she will take the Armenian mandate for humanitarian reasons. Americans have already sent missionaries, money and relief to Armenia. American opinion is interested in Armenia." (Colonel House had asked Hoover about becoming Armenia’s governor). Setting up a Near East "permanent peace" to use Dodge’s phrase, was not turning to be simple that waving the Fourteen Points would get the job done. Instead of missionaries seeing Heaven, they were smelling Hell. Not serenity but confusion was reigning in Paris; peacemakers suffered trauma as old and new orders butted each other. Both the American Peace Commission and the Protestant contingent found that a speedy, united approach to the Near East was ephemeral.

Money did not lure Turkey along the paths of harmony with the United States.
(p. 246)



P.240: According to another scholar, “the political approach of the U.S. toward the Middle East up to 1941 could be described as one of indifference, good will and conviction that the area was a British preserve where no major American interests were involved. “ These judgments are generally accurate in the sense that the U.S. did not view Turkey as a critical nation in the interwar period.

P.241: When Turkey pressed in the mid-1930s for a revision of the Straits regime and later the acquisition of Alexandretta, the U.S. did not take sides. These political problems were chiefly the concerns of Turkey and European nations. The U.S., in contrast to various European nations, did not adopt a “big brother” attitude toward Turkey. As a matter of fact, as illustrated by frequent comments by Turkish officials, the political disinterestedness of the U.S. in Turkey was an ever present factor promoting closer Turco-American relations. International politics is only a part of international relations. This history of Turkish-American relations from 1919 to 1939 contradicts the view that Americans followed a rigidity isolationist code during these years. Although somewhat reduced in numbers, missionary and lay educators, now catering to Turks rather than to Armenians, Greeks and other minorities, remained an important group of Americans in Turkey.

P.242: The end of Turkish-American trade and the work of the missionaries of the American Board would have been a calamity for persons directly concerned with these activities, but their termination would not have seriously jeopardized the larger national interest. Foremost among the factors conditioning American relations with Turkey between 1914 and 1919 was nationalism, which complicated every problem between the two countries and affected all Americans living and working in Turkey. Nationalism was the lifeblood of the Turkish revolution and the ideological foundation upon which Kemal Ataturk based his program. Turkey, like the U.S. a century and a half earlier, fought for its independence and right to control its own destiny. Historically, Americans revered the right of independence and self determination and thus they were inclined to be sympathetic with Turks; desire to establish and maintain themselves as a nation. Armenians and their supporters based their opposition to Ataturk’s program on moral (or idealistic) grounds, saying that the long Turkish record of brutality against minorities disqualified the new Turks from international recognition. The Greeks and Armenians in Turkey, although Turkish nationals, were clearly a small minority. Obviously, the principle of self-determination could not be applied to two hostile groups occupying the same geographical area.

P.243: The U.S. government, assessing the situation realistically, recognized that only by military force could the Turks be forced to permit establishment of an independent Armenia. U.S. policy toward Turkey, a necessary combination of realism and idealism, recognized the right of the Turks to govern themselves and chart their own development as long as they did not seriously harm American interests. Except for the economic loss, it would have been much easier for American missionaries, for example, to end their work in Turkey in the face of the almost overwhelming obstacles after World War I. They decided, however, to comply with regulations dictated by Turkish nationalism, rather than lose the opportunity, however limited, to advertise the goodness of Christianity by personal example in their schools and medical facilities. Obviously, the missionaries preferred to combine religion with education and to make direct attempts at converting Muslims to Christianity but, realistically, they acknowledged that these courses at action were impossible. At times missionaries and other Americans in Turkey grumbled and asked for diplomatic protection, but generally they recognized and respected Turkish nationalism, The “Terrible Turk” stereotype was another important conditioner of Turkish-American relations, both during and after World War I. This conception of the Turk, circulated widely by in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, impeded the State Department’s postwar effort to resume regular relations with Turkey. The description had some historical validity when applied to Turkish treatment of the Armenians, but it was unfair to the Turks of the post-Lausanne period. Armenian-Americans and their supporters, in their fight for an Armenian home and their opposition to the Turkish-American Lausanne Treaty, continued to use time worn epithet. This unfortunate representation contributed strength to the opponents of the Lausanne Treaty and helped defeat it in 1927. Led by the Armenian-American lawyer, Vahan Chardasian [Cardashian], the enemies of Turkey in the United States, sought, with some success to cloud the issues in Turkish-American relations by poisoning American public opinion.

P.244: As the years passed, the futility of the Armenian cause and the splendid example being set in Turkey blurred the “unspeakable” Turk image in the U.S. The efforts of U,S, diplomatic representatives, the State Department, and other interested individuals to publicize Turkish development, and praise from Americans who worked or visited in Turkey, did much to improve public opinion in the United States. The American Friends of Turkey, through philanthropic work in Turkey and a publicity campaign in the United States, made an impressive contribution painting a more accurate picture of the new Turks. Fortunately, the old stereotype had almost disappeared by 1939. The Turkish people had shown their capacity to change, and the American people forgave past misdeed[s] when confronted with a vastly changed situation. Admiral Mark L. Bristol’s service as High Commissioner between 1919 and 1927 was meritorious and contributed to good relations between Turkey and the United States despite lack of formal ties.

P.245: The President and his advisers made the decisions to sign the Lausanne Treaty in 1923 and the agreement of February, 1927. But, particularly in the case of the Lausanne Treaty, the influence of a minority of the American public coupled with political considerations caused [the] Senate to reject the treaty.


P.246: In the short space of twenty years, a new enlightened republican government had installed itself firmly in a Turkey vastly changed from the time of the Sultans, The government of Kemal Ataturk was a benevolent dictatorship; it designed its principles, policies and programs to revitalize the Turkish people as a nation and restore them to a position of consequence on the international scene. American diplomats, missionaries, doctors, traders, businessmen, archeologists and tourists provided the individual links so essential to understanding between the two nations. The two countries smoothed over their problems and built a solid basis for friendship without the assistance of foreign-aid programs like those of the World War II and postwar eras. Money did not lure Turkey along the paths of harmony with the United States. During the interwar period, not one cent of such aid went to Turkey from the U.S. government.

P.247: The Truman Doctrine was not a direct result of friendship established by Turkey and the U.S. between 1919 and 1939, but the events of the interwar years certainly provided a logical basis for it. Turkish President Celal Bayar told his Parliament on November 1, 1958, that the relationship between Turkey and the United States “is based on mutual respect and confidence” and that “the bonds are even stronger than ever”.

When the French left Cilicia, over one hundred fifty thousand Greeks and Armenians fled with them.


P.259: Barton and Montgomery prepared a booklet, The United States Government and Help to Armenia, which traced Western obligations to Armenians. Near East Relief in June 1921 distributed the booklet to every Congressman and hundreds of leaders and organizations in every state. The State Department soon responded to this propaganda by forwarding to Boston a Bristol dispatch which recommended missionaries; forbearance both in Turkey and in Armenia and abstention from an anti-Turkish campaign. Near East Relief and the American Board soon discovered that Armenianism no longer was going to move the U.S. government into Turkish peacemaking. A lull came in mission-relief lobbying when Barton, whom an Armenian leader described as the intercessor between Western and Eastern Christians and “father” of the Armenians, surveyed the Far East for the American Board. Near East Relief’s educational director, Ernest Riggs, who returned from Anatolia in late summer 1921 after expulsion by Kemalists for pro-Armenian policies, partly filled Barton’s place. At the London Conference of sprinh 1921 which Barton attended, Italy had agreed with the Kemalists to withdraw from Adalia in return for economic concessions. The Greeks tried to check the Allies’ move away from Sevres by marching east into central Anatolia to capture Ankara. Just short of the Kremalist capital, the Greek advance halted. Mustafa Kemal and his troops then made ready for countering the Greeks while skirmishing against French in Cilicia. At the end of the summer the Greeks lost fifteen thousand men in a desperate battle along the Sakarya river, and retired to the Baghdad railway. Weakened in Cilcia because of this Kemalist victory, France in October promised the Turkish nationalists to evacuate the area which the London Conference had set an Armenian national home.

P.260: Having more losses than any Western nation in the war, France decided that Syria was the only vital interest it could afford in the Near East. When the French left Cilicia, over one hundred fifty thousand Greeks and Armenians fled with them. Bristol since January 1921 had been receiving evidence that the Ankara government wanted formal relations with the United States. After the French agreed to withdraw from Cilicia, Bristol persuaded Washington to send to Ankara a U.S. Department of Commerce official to discuss economic matters informally. During the Commerce official’s stay in the Kemalist capital, the Armenia-America Society kept trying to get an Armenian national home. Montgomery got stimulation from a visit by Bryce to the United States; Bryce thought the Greeks could force a Turkish evacuation of Cilician Armenia. Montgomery and Riggs drafted a resolution and persuaded Congressman John J. Rogers of Massachusetts to introduce it in December 1921. The Rogers Resolution requested that the U.S. call a conference to consider methods for establishing the Cilician Armenians as a nation. Back from the Far East, Barton set about getting Secretary of State Hughes to bring up the Cilician issue at the Washington Naval Conference. He had such a concert partly because the Kemalists had driven American Board personnel out of Cilicia. But Bristol summed up the State Department’s reaction to Barton, writing that partiality for Christian minorities was an injury to them so long as the West did not supply the military forces required for Turkish compliance with a separate Armenia. Bristol’s attitude Barton and Montgomery, who sought to have Bristol removed as Armenian high commissioner to Turkey, in part because Bristol had not defended Ernest Riggs when the Kemalists had expelled that missionary. Rather, Bristol had remonstrated with Riggs for favoritism to Armenians. Barton felt that Bristol’s apparent accommodation to the Kemalists was “absolutely wrong.” Riggs doubted the wisdom of an anti-Bristol position; “I confess that I fear” he confided to Montgomery, “that a new man going from America might be led to the same position which Admiral Bristol holds.”

P.241: Yet Barton went ahead with a case against Bristol, in which in March 1922 he presented to Secretary Hughes. The theme was that Bristol had not protected American interests in the Near East. Commending the Admiral for zeal and ability, Barton declared that Bristol “inclined to take the word of a Turk as more value than the word of an American”, and to defend the Turks more than the minorities. But attacking a fairly perceptive Bristol was trying to remove a symptom. The missionaries needed to think about coming to terms with the Kemalists, Relying on a West determined to behave irresponsibly about Asia Minor was not producing security for the Armenians or for the Protestants from the United States.


Barton and other friends of Armenia could not obtain a State Department endorsement of the proposed dismissal of Bristol or of the Rogers Resolution. As the Allies in February and March 1922 postponed scrapping the Sevres Treaty and reaffirmed a national home for Armenians, the American government remained aloof. The Secretary in April 1922 wrote Barton at length: “I am very sorry to say that I see no way in which this Government can, in existing circumstances, act to the advantage of the Ottoman Greeks or of the Armenians…” Then, another flicker of hope. Barton acted vigorously when in May 1922 the British ambassador to Washington proposed a Western investigation of alleged Turkish atrocities, There had been reports of new deportations attending the Kemalist-Greek war. The executive committee of Near East Relief directed its chairman to ask Hughes to appoint a representative for the investigation.

P.262: The American Board secretary reported to Caleb Gates that recent publicity by Near East Relief and the Federal Council of Churches had done something of worth for the Armenians: Washington had decided to join an international inquiry of Muslim-Christian relations in Asia Minor. Giving a sop to Armenianism, Hughes in June 1922 publicly announced America’s commitment to the inquiry. The Secretary followed Barton’s desire and James Harbord be the American representative. But the French and Italians balked at a mobe which might weaken their relations with the Ankara government; so the inquiry was put in the hands of the International Red Cross. Dulles in July told Barton that the idea of an international commission was unworkable. Meanwhile Near East Relief continued its philanthropy. It had transferred work out of such Kemalist areas as Kars (annexed from Erivan Republic in December 1920) and Harput to Soviet Armenia and Syria. The Relief Group early in 1922 dismissed twenty five thousand children from orphanages because of limited funds. It was in August 1922 that relief chairman Barton observed Kemalist momentum pushing all before it. The Turkish nationalists began an offensive against the Greeks, and within three weeks pushed their antagonists into the Aegean sea. Kemalists soon controlled all of Asia Minor. This drive to the Aegean outraged the American Board secretary, not least because a fire in Smyrna inflicted damage more than one hundred thousand dollars to Board property. Foreseeing an Armageddon. Barton burst against Turks, whom he chose to blame for missionary problems: “The rights of Americans and of minorities are held in contempt and all civilized laws are defied” he wrote to Harding and Hughes “as we must always expect from a distinctly Mohammedan Government. We are witnessing what promises to be beginning of another European war, in which barbarianism will be arraigned against civilization”. He urged a Western ultimatum to the Kemalists, and troops to the Bosporus to save the Near East. Several church groups passed resolutions with similar language. But the thunder of the First World War’s rhetoric was ineffective.

P.263: The view of Turks in Barton’s message to Harding and Hughes was inappropriate, as remarked by President MacLahlan of International College. The Turks did not massacre Greeks, as Greeks had done to Turks in May 1919. About the worst the Turkish Army did was force captured Greek soldiers to shout “Long live Mustafa Kemal” (in return to their forcing Turks to shout Zito Vrenizelos when they entered Smyrna) as they marched intro detention. Turkish soldiers protected International College during the disruption of the occupation; a Turkish cavalryman rescued MacLahlan from irregulars who nearly beat the missionary to death while trying to loot the agricultural buildings of the college. A three-day Smyrna fire (September 13-15), which Turks made every effort to control, destroyed nearly a square mile in Greek and Armenian areas and made two hundred thousand people homeless. Included in this loss was the American Board’s Collegiate Institude for Girls. MacLachlan’s investigation of the fire’s origin led to the conviction that Armenian terrorists, dressed in Turkish uniforms, fired the city. Apparently the terrorists were attempting to bring Western intervention. Informing Washington of a three million dollars claim by the American Board against the Ankara government, Barton requested through an aide that the U.S. participate in any conference planned by the Allies to rewrite the Treaty of Sevres. As the West talked of negotiating with the Kemalists, part of the American public began to realize that Armenianism and godliness were not identical. Ever since missionaries in the nineteenth century had become the dominant U.S. concern in the Ottoman Empire, opinion in America increasingly favored Christian minorities.

“Why aren’t the atrocities committed by a Christian nation more heinous than those committed by Moslem races”, if Christianity is better than Islam? -- Admiral Mark Bristol


P.264: With the massacres of the 1890s, attitudes had become fixed on the stereotype of the terrible Turk. It was Gates and Bristol who lead in weakening Armenianism in the American mind. Gates declared in his memoirs: “I had often told my students that I was pro-Turk just as I was pro-Armenian, pro-Bulgarian, pro-Greek, pro-Jew”. Bristol though never disagreeing with missionaries that the United States should lead Ottoman reconstruction, had opposed their Armenianism. Believing Armenophile publicity “exaggerated, misconstructed, and abusive,” Bristol in early 1920 told Barton in some ways it had called forth the worst Turkish feelings. He said to the mission secretary that it was contrary to the American sense of fair play to kick a man when he was down and give him a chance to defend himself. With concurrence from Gates, Bristol repeated often in 1921 and 1922 that relief workers and minorities had provoked reprisals and were like the boy who “poked the hornets” nest and naturally was thoroughly stung. Bristol thought the boy should be paddled. Troubled that killings by Armenians and Greeks did not get into the American press, the admiral wondered in his diary, “Why aren’t the atrocities committed by a Christian nation more heinous than those committed by Moslem races”, if Christianity is better than Islam? He worked on the feelings of William Peet, but he decided Peet had an unchangeable resentment against Turks. Bristol acknowledged that since Turks had failed the missionary so many times, there was a reason for his negativenesss.


P.265: In autumn 1922 a pro-Turk statement in an American periodical figured in a public debate about Asia Minor. Retired Rear Admiral Colby M. Chester, believing opinion against Turks was harmful to State Department backing for his revival of earlier Chester Project (currently called the Ottoman-American Development Corporation) published, “Turkey Reinterpreted”. Trying to reverse thirty years of Armenianism in one dramatic attempt, the flighty, seventy-eight-year-old Chester produced an extreme model. He depicted Turks as moral, religious, and honest (“Although I have been much in Turkey I never met a crooked Turk”). As for the Armenian massacres, he not only stirred up history but made a little of his own: “Armenians were moved from inhospitable regions where they… could not actually prosper to the most delightful and fertile part of Syria… In due course of time the deportees, entirely unmassacred and fat and prosperous, returned”. He claimed that an acquaintance had seen Armenian towns filled with astonishing live ghosts. What a pity, he remarked, "to upset the good old myth of Turkish viciousness… but in the interest of accuracy I find myself constrained to do so, although it makes me feel a bit like one who is compelled to tell a child that Jack the Killer really found no monstrous men to slay". The mission-relief reaction to the old man was as serious as to California Congressman A,M. Free's public charge a year earlier that Armenians had killed more Turks than vice versa (Free retreated when Near East Relief pressed for evidence). The fat was in flames. In addition to the Chester-Montgomery interchange, Current History carried an analysis of missionary and relief organizations by journalist Clair Price. For a series of four articles Price, visited Ankara and Constantinople, including a talk with Bristol.

  "... the monopoly of opinion about Asia Minor held so long by missionary and Armenian groups."

P.266: The journalist stated that American missions, Armenian clauses in the Treaty of Berlin, and such societies as the Dashnaktsuthiun had alienated Armenians from Turks. After the war, he declared, missionaries to the Ottoman Empire sought to take over the country and use Armenians for this vast political project. Price said that the Near East Relief was at the same time of his writing flooding the United States with Armenianism through its monthly, New Near East (successor to the News Bulletin). He noted that the editor of the periodical, Talcott Williams, had published a book pleading for America to adopt a protectorate over Asia Minor. (Actually, Williams in his book, although showing special concern for the "great people" of Armenia , did recognize that both Christians and Muslims committed atrocities against each other. Price regarded Kemalist leaders as trustworthy and not implicated in the Armenian massacres. He thought that mission and relief workers should communicate with the Ankara government, stop "clamorous Armenianism", realize that the millet system made it almost impossible for Turks to regard Christianity as anything other than an unfriendly political program, and accept the Turkification of Asia Minor. Montgomery protested in Current History that American Missionary schools were not divisive. Armenian revolutionary leaders criticized the American Board schools, Montgomery said, because they prohibited politics.

P.267: Another missionary defender less restrained than Montgomery was Everett P. Wheeler, who had helped relief among Armenians since [the] 1890s. Wheeler claimed it a perversion of patriotism to blame missionaries and Armenians for seeking victory over the Allied enemy, the Turks. History had praised the defense of the West against Muslim intrusion in the Middle Ages he said, and Christian nations should receive credit for seeking protection of Christians in the Near East. An unorthodox view had arisen, and Barton saw Bristol and Gates had helped bring it into being. The public debate of late 1922 loosened the grip of Armenianism upon Americans. It also helped threaten the monopoly of opinion about Asia Minor held so long by missionary and Armenian groups. The debate came at the same time that President Harding decided the United States would send observers to a conference at Lausanne, which the Allies were calling to negotiate a peace with the Kemalists. Bristol’s preaching about un-Christian elements in Armenianism never found its mark with Barton until Kemalist guns made it ridiculous for the American Board to snub Ankara any longer. The Turks eventually named a hospital in Istanbul for Bristol in recognition of his sense of justice. The missionaries since the 1830s often had sustained their enterprise by being anti-Muslim and anti-Turk.

P.268: The American Board also had been willing to idolize its institutions among Armenians more than to remember that God is no respecter of persons. If Barton had heeded Jesus’ instruction about loving enemies and praying for those who are spiteful, the mission secretary might have seen Christianity in Bristol’s remarks long before the Greek evacuation of Smyrna.

P.269: Some voices urged a United States mediation between European nations and the Kemalists; Secretary Hughes stated in a speech in Barton’s home city that the American Government did not intend to intervene in Turkey, Before [the] Lausanne Conference opened there was an interesting exchange between the Harding administration and Barton forces. The American Board secretary had pressed Washington for formal representation at the negotiations. Harding on October 5, 1922, wrote that the United States “can be represented informally and properly safeguard American interests”.

A Thought or Two from Holdwater


While Author Joseph L. Grabill has written a mostly fair account, he is clearly a "genocide enthusiast," and I would like to address his questioning of Admiral Chester Colby's credibility on "Pg. 265." Grabill didn't like Colby's finding the Turks as "moral, religious, and honest," but it's not like Colby was the first open-minded Westerner to have arrived at such a shocking conclusion. For example, Missionary Elder Tanner wrote in 1886 that ,"[The Turks] are the most honest and moral of the Orientals," and ten years earlier, Grattan Geary wrote (in ''Through Asiatic Turkey") :

"When a Mohammedan gives me his word," said a gentleman who had a long experience of the country, "whether he be a Turk or a Kurd, I can always rely on it. I have never been what is called ' done ' by a Mussulman, although I have had transactions of all kinds with Moslems for years ; but when a native Christian tells me anything, I have cause instinctively to ask myself where the deception lies — in what direction I am going to be tricked. There are exceptions, of course; but if anyone has many dealings with Mussulmans and native Christians in these parts, he will soon learn that the one may be depended on, and the other will almost to a certainty deceive and cheat you if you give him a chance."

As far as Chester's making up history regarding the massacres, it's true, the admiral may have been painting too rosy a picture because Armenians were by no means having a picnic in the areas they were transferred to. Given the wretched anti-Turkish tales Americans were accustomed to hearing, however, Colby can't be blamed in accentuating the positive. What exactly is untrue? As opposed to propaganda telling us that Armenians were left in the deserts to die, it is generally true the regions they were moved to happened to be part of "The Fertile Crescent."

Many relocated Armenians died of famine and disease during their resettlement, not of massacres. Colby was being primarily honest with the "unmassacred" claim. And many did return, only to leave again. (The Patriarch is on record for estimating up to 644,900 Armenians in what was left in 1921's empire, from a pre-war population of 1.5 million; many had already left by this time, hundreds of thousands to Transcaucasia alone.)

He might have been stressing the bright side with the "fat and prosperous" part, although it's a fact many Armenians survived. For example, General Sir W. N. Congreve similarly had stated: "I did not see a thin (Armenian refugee) amongst a good many thousand I saw, and most looked cheery too. The massacres seem to have been a good deal exaggerated."




The above comes courtesy of Sukru S. Aya.


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