03 June 2006

756) The Ottoman Ambassador to Washington, Alexandre Mavroyeni and the Armenian Burden (1887-1896)

This article focuses on a significant period, which is the end of the century and the time peace before the war. Alexandre Mavroyeni is the Ottoman ambassador to Washington from 1887 to 1896. The author describes the developments concerning the ‘armenian issue’ from the perspective of the Armenians, who immigrated to the USA in the years of talk. �im�ir further examines the circumstances, that lead to the immigration of Armenians to the USA.

When Alexandre Mavroyeni was appointed ambassador to Washington, the embassy was established only 20 years ago and he was going to stay for almost 10 years in office.

In this period there were 8 important developments related to Armenians:

- with the support of American missionaries an immigration wave from the Ottoman Empire to the USA started
- this lead to the fact that a respectable Armenian community established in the USA
- parallel to these developments the Armenian revolutionary parties H�ntshak and Tashnaksutyun have been founded
- these two parties also influenced the Armenians of the USA and founded representatives there
- Armenian revolutionaries, who received the US–citizenship, went back to the Ottoman Empire and were active, with the protection of their new citizenship
- An Armenian press soon established in the USA and made systematically anti – Turkish propaganda
- American missionaries also increased their anti–Turkish propaganda
- Within the US–press, anti–Turkish propaganda and pro–Armenian propaganda increased

This list gives us a clue about the sensitiveness of Alexandre Mavroyeni’s period and job content. Mavroyeni was observing these developments carefully and reporting to the Empire. He not only observed but he also intervened actively by hiring several Armenians, in order to get insider information. An important reality, which resulted of his investigations is that within the immigration wave there were also many Muslims, who were shown as Armenians. These persons were also convinced by American missionaries to emigrate. It is noted that the main aim by doing so, was to propagate Christianity.

The figures of 1891 show that almost 4000 Armenians immigrated to the USA and one year later additionally 7000 Armenians. So there was a straight increase of the immigration of Armenians. The regions of Harput and Merzifon were completely de-populated by Armenians. The first Armenians church in the USA was established in Worcester.

Ambassador Mavroyeni is very incontent with the offending behaviour of the missionaries. But he cannot expect any support from the American officials, that’s why he chooses the way of hiring several Armenians, to be informed about the coming plans of the Armenians. Later he uses American detectives instead.

Although Mavroyeni is that active he cannot hinder that several books, which accuse the Turks and celebrate the Armenians, are being published. The authors of these books are all former missionaries and their aim is pretty clear, which is popularization of Christianity and the accusation of Muslims, therefore the religious closeness to the Armenians has been abused.

Retired Ambassador, Dr. Bilal N. ŞİMŞİR*
* Historian -
- Armenian Studies, Issue 4, December 2001 - January-February 2002

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