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Edwin Munsell Bliss

TURKEY AND THE ARMENIAN ATROCITIES


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[page 280]

CHAPTER XVI.

THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT.

True Moslem State Theocratic — Dual Form of the Present Government — The Sublime Porte — Army and Navy — Internal Administration — Financial Management — General Corruption — Administration of Justice — Treatment of Christians — The Ulema — The Palace Party — The Sultan.

There can be no proper understanding of the situation in Turkey without a knowledge of the peculiar character of the Turkish Government. That government is in reality dual in form. So far as the outside world is concerned it is on the basis of an absolute monarchy or despotism. The Sultan is the autocrat of his empire, but has under him a complete organization of departments conducted by the appropriate chiefs who form his cabinet. To the Moslem, however, the same government bears another aspect, and side by side with this organization that is apparent to the Western eye there is another, which to the true Turk takes precedence of it. The original Moslem State was distinctly theocratic in its nature, and its entire organization was based upon the idea that religion was the controlling element in the conduct of all affairs, national, municipal and family. Both forms, however, centre in the Sultan himself, and under the.

[page 281] THE SUBLIME PORTE.

peculiar conditions of his life there has grown up a third element, often distinct from and even antagonistic to the others — the palace element. Each one of these three play an important part in the affairs of the empire.

The Turkish Government as it stands before the world at large is organized like any other government. The Sultan is the supreme head; under him is the Council of Ministers, called Medjliss-i-Hass. This consists of the following members: the Grand Vizier, the Sheik-ul-Islam, and the Ministers of the Interior, of Foreign Affairs, of War, of Finance, of Marine, of Commerce, of Public Instruction and of Evkaf, together with the President of the Council of State and the Grand Master of Artillery. These different departments constitute what is known as the Sublime Porte, and are carried on in much the same way as the corresponding departments in this country or in any European country, and most of them require no special description. The Grand Vizier, as president of the Council, holds much the same power as the Premier in England. Theoretically he has the power to decide matters in any department on his own judgment, and his endorsement of an undertaking is almost sure to insure its success whether the rest of the Cabinet approve it or not. Of the other members there are only three whose office needs any special description. These are the Sheik-ul-Islam, the Minister of Evkaf and the Minister of Public Instruction.

The Sheik-ul-Islam is popularly supposed to be the head of the Moslem religion. This, however, is not true. He is merely the representative in this Council of the Moslem Hierarchy. Theoretically he is nominated by the Sultan with the approval of the Ulemas, or general body of Moslem

[page 282] PUBLIC INSTRUCTION.

Doctors of Law. Practically he is the choice, as are the other members of the Council, of the Grand Vizier, who has the privilege usually of making up his own Cabinet, as has the English Premier. His membership in the Council is in most cases honorary rather than important. Only under rare instances does he come into position to exercise any positive influence upon affairs. On the occasion of the death of Sultan Abdul Aziz, the conspirators applied to the Ulema, who made a statement that the Sultan was not fit to govern, and as their mouthpiece the Sheik-ul-Islam issued a decree of fetva, which made his deposition lawful. So also when it became necessary politically to replace Murad by his brother Abdul Hamid, the Sheik-ul-Islam was called upon, and, agreeably to the influences brought to bear, issued the order. There have been similar instances at other times, but since the reorganization of the empire by Sultan Mahmud II the office has been as a rule honorary rather than practical.

The Minister of Public Instruction is a Cabinet Minister by virtue of the peculiar relations existing between the government and the Mosque schools, and the necessity, under a despotic government, of watching that nothing shall be taught in one school that shall antagonize what is taught in another, or be in the slightest degree derogatory to the general government. The important duty in regard to the schools connected with the Mosques, has to do not so much with the education itself as with the control of that very large portion of the revenues of the country which is applied to their support. Another department under the same head is that of the censorship. How important a department this is will be manifest later on, illustrations of it being given in the chapter on the condition of the empire in 1894. The countries

[page 283] MOSQUES.

where this department occupies a somewhat parallel position are Russia, Austria and Spain, where the censorship is very rigid and the oversight by the government of all departments of instruction is very complete.

The Minister of Evkaf has duties entirely unlike those of any cabinet minister in European countries. They arise from the inevitable mingling of the two characteristics of the Turkish Government. The term vakouf is applied to property which in one form or another is directed to religious uses and generally indicates that belonging to the Mosques. It is acquired in two ways; the property of any man who dies intestate reverts under Turkish law not to the State itself, but to the nearest Mosque. In addition to this, if any man desires to secure special divine favor, such as is awarded particularly to the charitable, according to Moslem teaching, he may transfer during his lifetime or deed after his death any portion of his property to any particular Mosque. He, however, has the privilege of securing an annuity based upon this property to some member of his own family or some one whom he desires especially to favor. The result is that a very large amount, estimated at from one-third to one-half, of the real estate in the Turkish Empire is owned by the Mosques in this way; the income, however, not by any means being entirely under the control of the Mosques them, selves. It is evident that the direction of this involves a very extended organization, and the elevation of it into a department whose head shall be in the Cabinet was perfectly natural. It will be easily seen that the style of questions arising in such a case is very varied. Where a person wishes to buy real estate the first thing he has to do is to find out whether it, or any portion of it, is vakouf. If so, he must, in making his

[page 284] MILITARY DEPARTMENTS.

contract, bind himself to pay the regular tax directly to the Mosque or to the holder of the annuity. This can be done without great difficulty. But in case he should die and the property be divided according to law among his heirs, and one of those heirs should die, then the portion of that heir goes to the Mosque. Various methods have been devised to overcome such difficulties. Two are provided for by Turkish law: (1) A lump sum may be paid to the Mosque, securing complete quittal of all claims; (2) The purchaser may find some unencumbered property, and, by payment to its owners of a consideration, secure its acceptance by the Mosque in lieu of the property that he wishes.

The military departments of the government are organized and officered very much as in other governments. The army is divided into the Nizam, or regular army; the Redif, or reserves, and the Mustahfiz, or veterans. Military service is compulsory on all able-bodied Mohammedans for six years in the regular army, eight years in the reserve, and six in the veteran service. There are, however, the following exceptions: (1) All Turks residing in Constantinople and its suburbs are released; (2) Those who are infirm, are the sole support of their families, or for any special reason may claim exception, are required to go through from six to nine months’ drill in the regular battalion in the first year of their service, and thirty days’ drill at their homes in every subsequent year, and are also liable on emergency to be called to join the regular army. Non-Moslems are prohibited from entering the military service, but instead pay an exemption tax, which is levied alike on males of all ages. The effect of this has been to create a heavy strain upon the Moslem population throughout the empire, while the Christians have found it to

[page 285] EFFECTIVE FORCE.

their advantage to pay the tax rather than to endure the conscription. In the apportionment of the troops it has been the rule never to allow soldiers to serve in the districts near their homes. Thus the troops employed in the garrisons in the north are levied from among the Moslems of Syria and Mesopotamia, while those accustomed to the snows and high altitudes of Asia Minor are sent into the heated plains of the south. Whatever advantage might result from this separation from their homes is more than counterbalanced by the strain upon the physical constitution. The total effective force of the regular Turkish army in times of peace is estimated at about 150,000 men and 9,800 officers, divided into 264 battalions of infantry, 189 squadrons of cavalry, 104 batteries of field artillery, 36 batteries of mountain and 29 battalions of garrison artillery, 4 battalions of infantry train, 14 battalions of artificers, 3 battalions of fire brigade, 22 companies of engineers, 2 sanitary companies and 1 telegraph company. The total force that it is estimated might be put into the field under the present system is said to be about 800,000 men. The rank and file is of excellent material. There are no better soldiers in the world than the Turks. They are faithful, obedient, fearless, and accustomed to the utmost frugality of life. The same, however, cannot be said of the officers. There are brave, efficient men among them; but for the most part they show the same defects as other Turks in official position, and their weakness affects very seriously the whole army.

The Turkish navy is the laughing stock of all who know anything about it. In numbers it is strong, and probably, if it were kept in repair and sufficiently well manned, it might be available for warfare. As a matter of fact, its principal use

[page 286] ABDUL AZIZ EXTRAVAGANCE.

for the last few years has been to make annual trips from the inner harbor to the Bosporus and back again, in which trips it has to pass the two bridges that span the Golden Horn, and if it gets through without really damaging the bridges, it is matter of public comment and congratulation in the press. The present navy owes its origin to the ambition and extravagance of Sultan Abdul Aziz, who, having found that money was to be had in Europe for the asking, paid little attention to the conditions of the payment of interest, and borrowed right and left for the purpose of building palaces, public works of various kinds, and a navy. He had, however, to import engineers and officers; for seamen he relied in some degree upon Dalmatians, but they could not supply the demand, and he fell back upon the Turks. The Turks are as poor sailors as most Orientals, and as a matter of fact the fleet has been and is worth next to nothing for offensive or even for defensive purposes. The general collapse of the finances of the empire has made it difficult to pay the engineers; the ships have not been well cared for, and are practically of no account in estimating the strength of the nation. There are 15 armor-clad ships of considerable power, and 42 others, some of them of very little value. Its nominal strength is 6 vice-admirals, 11 rear admirals, 208 captains, 704 under officers, 30,000 sailors, and 9,460 marines.

The department which at present attracts most attention is that of the Interior. For administrative purposes the empire is divided into vilayets (provinces), which are subdivided into sanjaks or livas (governments or arrondissements), these again into kazas (counties), and these into nahies (communes). The governors of these divisions are styled Valis, or Walis, Mutessarifs, Kaimakams and Mudirs. The first two officers,

[page 287 - illustration]

Robert College

[caption] ROBERT COLLEGE, situated on the heights of Rumeli Hissar, about six miles up the Posporus from the city of Constantinople. Just below is the place where Darius crossed the Bosporus and where Mohammed II. built his famous castles.

[page 288 - illustration]

The boy's high school in Smyrna

[caption] THE BOYS’ HIGH SCHOOL IN SMYRNA. It is under the care of the American missionaries The students are of all nationalities, Armenian, Greek, English, and other Europeans. The house is a good illustration of the style of building. There are no chimneys, their place being taken by stovepipes, as seen in the picture.

[page 289] THE MEDJLISS.

who have the title of Pasha, and the third, are appointed by the Council of State at Constantinople, the fourth by the Valis. The last is generally some local magistrate; the others are usually from places at some distance from where they hold office. Their duties are both judicial and executive, and each is practically autocrat within his own jurisdiction, subject only to his immediate superior. There is a council connected with each of these offices, composed of prominent members of the different communities, Moslem and Christian, whose business it is to advise the governor in the many details of his office. The different communities have a loose organization called the medjliss, which meets on occasion to discuss local matters, and which is represented in a sort of council associated with the governor. The general character of the provincial government is largely dependent upon the Governor-General, or Vali. If he is a man who seeks to deal justly by the people, and who has a pretty firm hand, there is order and quiet, for the people are usually peaceable. If he is an avaricious man, that characteristic, always existent to a greater or less degree, pervades the whole administration, and the shrewdest politicians come out best. If he is easy-going, caring more for his comfort, or kef, his subordinates do much as they please, and that pleasure is, as a rule, to fleece the people to the best of their ability. Occasionally, though it must be said rarely, the governor is a man of marked brutality, and then woe betide any in city or country who for any reason incur his hostility. When it is remembered that appointments to provincial offices are seldom made with any reference to the welfare of the province, but usually as a matter of favor to some one who desires to recover wasted fortune, or whom revenge seeks to remove from Constantinople,

[page 290] FINANCE.

it will be readily seen that the chances are all in favor of poor rather than good government. Taking into account also the fact of the absolute autocracy of the governor, and the utter lack of supervision, the wonder is not that the provinces are governed so badly, but that they are not governed worse.

The financial management of the government is probably the worst in existence. Properly speaking, Turkey has no finance.. There are revenues, but no regular way of collecting them. There are salaries, but no regular way of paying them. The result is chaos. From the Sultan down to the lowest grade in the public service it is a scramble for money, each one getting all he can and giving up as little as possible. Many of the revenues are mortgaged to pay the loans contracted, chiefly during the extravagant reign of Abdul Aziz, and are under the absolute control of a commission of foreigners. The tithes are farmed out to the highest bidders, who have the whole power of the government at their disposal to enable them to collect all they can, on the general principle of a division of any profits between the collectors and the authorities. Tax receipts are repeatedly refused, so that when subsequent collectors come they can take advantage of their absence to collect back taxes to the very limit of possibility. Enumerators for personal taxes make their lists small so as to lessen the amount for which they are held responsible, while in view of this they levy on the community as high as the community will give. Importers try to secure undervaluation of their goods, land-owners undervaluation of their land, peasants hide their grain, and men will often bear imprisonment, and even the severest beating, rather than reveal their deposits.

In case of special need at Constantinople, requisition is

[page 291] BRIBERY AND EXTORTION.

made upon some province for a certain sum. Forthwith all the efforts of every member of the administration of that province are directed to two things: (1) to lessen if possible the amount demanded; (2) to secure for themselves a portion of the money that must be collected. Spies and informers abound on every hand, and exceptional harvests, fortunate investments, fat legacies, are made the pretexts of all sorts of pressure. Salaries are always in arrears for months, and sometimes years. The announcement that the treasury is to pay a month’s salary to the clerks of the departments, or to the army and navy, is a matter of public comment and advertisements in the newspapers. But people must live. Hence bribery and extortion rule everywhere. Judges, officials of every grade, even heads of departments, rely for their support, not upon the government itself, but upon what influence they can exert on the lives and fortunes of others, and upon appropriating at least a little of what passes through their hands.

The general conduct of the various departments is thus inevitably the poorest. There is not the faintest pretense of civil service. All appointments go by favor, and, with rare exceptions, the amount of work accomplished is lamentably, even ludicrously, small. It is absolutely impossible to get anything done in any of the departments except by one of two means: constant pressure combined with the endorsement of a superior official, or the most unblushing bribery. Fees abound on every hand, and are given openly without any apparent idea that there is anything derogatory to the officials in taking them. In the Custom House there is a regular scale of fees; so much to the porter who takes things out of the lighter; so much to the inspector; so much to the

[page 292] CONCESSIONS.

clerk, and so on; from the bottom up. The inevitable result is that there is false swearing on every hand, and the dues supposed to be received seldom reach intact the treasuries of the government. When it comes to the question of securing concessions, the matter is still worse. Some ten years ago a small book, called “Minor Memoirs of Turkey,” was published, full of curious details. Among them was a list of bribes received by dignitaries of the Ottoman Government; they included 75,000 Turkish pounds paid by a railway company to two secretaries, a chamberlain at the palace, a minister in the cabinet, etc. A tobacco monopoly company paid 12,000 pounds to various officials; the directors of a bank in Galata remitted 125,000 pounds as an agent for some enterprise. The court chamberlain received 60,000 pounds from Baron ______ , through a certain effendi, for a concession. Whether these particular instances are absolutely correct or not, makes very little difference. It is perfectly notorious, and has been for years, that every concession of any kind for public works has to pass the gauntlet of bribes from the lowest official at the Sublime Porte to the palace itself. It is true that some enterprises are carried through without bribes, but they owe their success to personal favor. One who was well posted in Turkish Government dealings has said, that “ strong as Baksheesh Pasha is, Khatir Pasha is still stronger.” (Khatir is what is done out of courtesy. If a Turk is asked to do a thing as a personal favor, it lays a heavier obligation upon him than even the presentation of a bribe, if the personal relations are at all intimate.) To give in anything like full detail a description of the methods adopted in the different departments of the Turkish Government, would require several chapters of itself, and would reveal an amount of

[page 293] ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.

trickery, deception and fraud which would be almost incredible. In the administration of justice there is a system of laws and of courts based upon the Napoleon code. There is a certain amount of regular law practiced. Here, however, the Moslem organization comes into such close relation with what we may call the European organization, that special reference is reserved for a later paragraph. The policing of the country is in the hands of the military, although the police force is a different organization from that of the regular army.

The personnel of the different departments is almost entirely Moslem, except where Turks are simply incapable of performing the duties. To Mahmud II must be given the credit of recognizing the superior ability of his Christian subjects, and of employing them in the various departments of the government. His practice was enlarged upon by Sultans Abdul Medjid and Abdul Aziz. When the present Sultan came to the throne, Armenians and Greeks were quite numerous as clerks in the various departments. Some rose to high position and were greatly honored. During the present reign, however, the number of these has been steadily diminishing, and their places have been taken by Turks. The Turk, not being well adapted to bureaucratic work, the general conduct of the empire has suffered proportionately. It is to be noted that the diplomatic service of the Turkish Empire is chiefly in the hands of the Greeks. There are few, if any, Armenians. In the local administrative service the Armenians outnumber the Greeks. The presence of these men in the service is referred to as indicative of the kindly feeling of the government for the Christian subjects. This does not by any means follow. Their presence is due, not to any favor on the part of the Sultan or his ministers, but to

[page 294] MOSLEM ORGANIZATION.

the fact that they are absolutely essential for the efficient conduct of the government.

Turning now to the Moslem organization, we find that originally it was not dissimilar in form to the other. It is based, however, upon an entirely different idea. In it the Sultan is not an executive, but is the caliph; primarily the defender of the faith, and only incidentally the governor of the people. He has associated with him the different prefects, practically ministers, who are his subordinates, and yet autocrats each in his own department under his general authority. So far as relations to foreign governments are concerned, there is not so much of difference. In the conduct of home affairs the difference is very marked, especially in the Department of Justice. There the whole principle of judgment is based upon the Moslem law, including both the Koran and the traditions. Those traditions recognize as the fundamental principle of law the faith and declaration of belief in the unity of God. Every person who denies that is an idolater, and unworthy of position equal to that of the true Moslem. Thus no Christian testimony is available in a court of law, and in any difference between himself and a Moslem, his interest is entirely a secondary matter. The fact that the traditions were very inchoate and uncertain left an enormous amount of room for all kinds of legal quibbles. So long as the conduct of the courts was on this basis pure and simple, the absolute subordination of the Christians was very plain. They had no rights of any kind, and when, by virtue of a sort of rude justice, they occasionally were treated honorably, it was so much clear gain. When, however, the new organization was brought side by side with the old, and the Napoleon code was made of equal importance with the law of the Cheri, then

[page 295] AN ILLUSTRATION.

there was a constant strife as to which should get the better of the other, and between the two, even less of justice was done than was accomplished by the former, except where there were influences at work to compel, through diplomatic pressure, the granting of just dues.

An illustration will give an idea of the situation better than any general description. A foreigner purchased a house in an interior city of Turkey which had been offered for open sale by the government, which had sequestered it in lieu of taxes due from its owner, an Armenian. A thorough government title was given, and possession seemed absolutely sure. After a few years the original owner died, leaving a son who had not yet attained his majority. Meanwhile the foreigner had improved the property so much that it had doubled, perhaps tripled, in value. The son, on coming of age, wanted to get back his ancestral property, and applied to the courts, claiming that the original seizure by the government was unjust, inasmuch as according to the Moslem law the rights of a minor could not be prejudiced by the debts of the father. The thing was brought before the local cadi, and for a consideration he decided in favor of the young man, and the foreigner was immediately ordered to leave. There had been no opportunity for his case to be presented; simply the instructions came from the courts that he was to withdraw, and a platoon of soldiers was sent to enforce the order. Being a foreigner, however, he had the right to refuse entrance to the Turkish troops, and the matter was referred to Constantinople. There it was brought before the regular court, and the representatives of the foreigner said, “ If the man has been defrauded, why, that is not our business. The government gave us a good title and took our money; we have improved

[page 296] NON-MOSLEM RIGHTS.

the property. Now, if the house belongs to this young man, we shall bring suit against the government for the money paid, the interest paid upon that money, and for the value of the improvements.” They utterly refused to go into the question of the original sequestration. This put the government in a difficult position. They were entirely unwilling to pay the money, and at the same time there was the decision of their courts. So an experienced Moslem jurist was called in, and he found that by some other precept of Moslem law the minor had lost his rights through not having presented his claim on a certain date. The result of the whole thing was that the property remained in the hands of the foreigner.

Two other points deserve special mention: the position of Christians in the courts, and the general relation of government as a protector. According to the true Moslem position, as stated above, no infidel (and all non-Muslems are infidels) has any standing before the law. His word is of no value, and his testimony is worthless in comparison with that of the true believer. Under the general reforms inaugurated by Sultan Mahmud and carried on by his successor, this was changed in theory, and, by the Hatti Humayoun, the Christian’s witness was accepted on a par with that of the Moslem. Had the new code been the only one in force, or had it been possible to institute courts all over the country, it would have been comparatively easy to accomplish the change; but the continuance of the old system throughout the rural districts, and in many matters, notably real estate transfers in the cities, occasioned great confusion, which worked constantly to delay and hamper the development of the Christians. As a matter of fact, the local courts throughout the empire in mat-

[page 297] SUPPRESSING CHRISTIANS.

ters affecting Moslems and Christians, have been and still are conducted on the general basis of the distinctively Moslem law, and not on that of the Napoleon code.

The same thing is true of the general relations of the Christians to the government in all matters regarding his protection. The old formula was, “ Islam, tribute, or the sword,” with an at least implied pledge of protection for those who accepted the tribute. This was assured to the Christians by various edicts, notably the Hatti Humayoun. Yet repeatedly it has been manifest that the old Moslem law is practically in force, according to which the moment a Christian becomes in any way an element of uneasiness in the community, or of hostility to the government, he may be suppressed. A doctor of Moslem law, when questioned on this point, frankly acknowledged the truth of the statement, and went on to say that even if the Christian had done nothing, he might be incited to some overt act which would give a pretext for suppressing him. This fact throws a flood of light on the claim of the Turkish Government that it has been suppressing rebellion.

This distinctively Moslem idea is represented in the actual government of Turkey in many ways. The Sheik-ul-Islam is its formal representative in the cabinet, but it has absolute control over the Board of Censors, in the Department of Public Instruction, as will be seen in the chapter on the situation in 1894. It is also dominant in the Department of Evkaf, and practically, though not theoretically so, in the Department of Justice. In the interior provinces, however, with rare exceptions, it rules everywhere. The exponents are chiefly the cadis in the villages and towns, who look with marked disfavor on the new-fangled judges who have usurped their

[page 298] THE PALACE.

privileges, and who strive by every means to arrest their supremacy. In close sympathy with them are the Moslem priests, especially the Ulema, or Doctors of Moslem law, the Softas, or students of law. All of these are bitterly opposed to the introduction of what they consider the infidel code, and do not scruple to do all in their power to make it of no effect. When their numbers and their wide distribution are taken into account, it will be readily seen that while the paraphernalia of the Turkish Government is to all appearances in accord with modern and European ideas, there is an influence not so visible, but very powerful, which renders it of extremely little value in the actual conduct of the affairs of the empire.

No one can live in Constantinople for any length of time, least of all have much dealing with the government, without learning the meaning of the term, “ The Palace.” Theoretically it means the Sultan, with his environments of police officials and attendants; practically it means in most cases those officials themselves, the Sultan being considered apart. Those officials include the officers of the palace, the chamberlain, chief eunuch and private secretaries. There is also the introducer of ambassadors; and aside from these there is generally a small coterie of men in whom the Sultan has personal confidence. They hold no definite official position, but live near the palace and are summoned at any time that the Sultan desires their counsel. In addition to these there is usually a small company of ecclesiastics or of Dervishes, who have varying influence with the Sultan. The power of these different officials varies greatly at different times, and also as one subject or another comes up. Under some previous reigns, when the personal comfort of the Sultan was pre-

[page 299] GENERAL OSMAN PASHA.

dominant in his plans, the chief eunuch was often practically the ruler of the empire. It was said that he had considerable influence in the reign of Abdul Aziz. Under the present Sultan it is generally understood that he is purely a palace official, with no relation to outside matters. The introducer of ambassadors is generally a man personally agreeable to the Sultan, and who, by virtue of his acquaintance with the different representatives of the foreign governments, is able, in quiet, unofficial ways, to exert considerable influence. One man who has for a long time been quite prominent is the well-known General Osman Pasha. His heroic defense of Plevna made him quite a hero in Turkish eyes, and his influence in many things has been quite noticeable. With regard to the Dervishes, it is difficult to speak with any degree of certainty. They are men gathered from different parts of the empire, who for one reason or another, perhaps personal, perhaps due to the locality from which they came, have made themselves agreeable to the Sultan or have made themselves useful. In general they represent to him the distinctively Moslem feeling of his empire and of the general Moslem world. There have been many reports as to their overpowering influence, and names have been given of one and another who seemed to dominate the Sultan absolutely. These reports must be taken with large allowance. While undoubtedly they have manifested considerable power on different occasions, it may be questioned whether that power has been at any time prominent or predominant, whether they have not more often been the tools of the Sultan rather than his masters.

One other department should be mentioned, the Council of State or Privy Council. This is a large body, made up

[page 300] THE ULEMA.

of most of those who have been prominent in public affairs. They may have been members of the Cabinet or not. Their duties are advisory rather than official. The only one among them having a definite position is the president, who is also a member of the Porte or Cabinet. In ordinary times they do not appear before the public to any great degree. On some occasions, however, they form a very influential element in the management of affairs. Reference has been also made to the Ulema. Of these there is no definite organization. It is a general body including the prominent instructors in Moslem law connected with the different Mosques. They appear in the regular government only in the person of the Sheik-ul-Islam, who is a member of the Cabinet or Sublime Porte.

Dominating all these departments is the Sultan himself. His word is law, and no official order of the Porte, the Council of State, or connected with the Palace, can stand against his personal displeasure. At the same time, as in all autocratic governments, he is by no means an absolutely independent ruler. He is compelled by force of circumstances to recognize the very diverse interests about him; to realize that he must on the one hand keep on good terms with the nations of Europe, and not less carefully guard against offending those who have a great hold upon his Moslem subjects, and who may influence very seriously his position as Caliph of the Moslem world. It is thus that the personality of the Sultan is, after all, the most important element in the Turkish Government. In cases like the Conqueror of Constantinople, Mahmud II, and others, that influence is positive; in the case of others it is negative, and the positive influence has rested with one or another branch of the government. Under the present reign the positive influence of the Sultan

[page 301] ABDUL HAMID’S INDIVIDUALITY.

himself is a most important factor, recognized as such by all who have come into personal contact with him. And no one who has followed the course of his reign can fail to recognize the great degree to which Abdul Hamid III has impressed his individuality upon the Turkish Government.

 


Table of Contents | The Cover, Frontispiece, Title Page, Copyright Notice, etc.
Introduction | Preface | Turkey in Asia (map) | Table of Contents (as in the book)
List of Illustrations | 1. The Turkish Empire | 2. Population and Languages | 3. Religions
4. The Turks | 5. The Kurds | 6. The Armenians | 7. The Greeks | 8. Other Oriental Churches
9. Rise and Decline of Ottoman Power | 10. Turkey and Europe | 11. Russia and Turkey
12. Mahmud II | 13. Reform and Progress | 14. Treaties of Paris and Berlin
15. Condition of the Christians | 16. The Turkish Government
17. Protestant Missions in Turkey
18. The Armenian Question | 19. General Situation in 1894 | 20. The Sassun Massacre
21. Politics and Massacre at Constantinople | 22. Massacres at Trebizond and Erzrum
23. Massacres in Harput District | 24. Aintab, Marash and Urfa | 25. Character of the Massacres
26. Religious Persecution | 27. Relief Work | 28. Partition of Turkey | 29. America and Turkey
30. General Survey | Alphabetical Index

Acknowledgements:

Source: Bliss, Rev. Edwin Munsell . Turkey and the Armenian Atrocities. Edgewood Publishing Company , 1896
Provided by: Aram Arkun, Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center
Scanned by: Karen Vrtanesyan
OCR: Irina Minasyan

See also:

J. Rendel Harris & B. Helen Harris, Letters from the Scenes of the Recent Massacres in Armenia
Helen Davenport Gibbons, The Red Rugs of Tarsus
Maj. General James G. Harbord Conditions in the Near East: Report of the American Military Mission to Armenia

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