1249) Ottoman Official Attitudes Towards American Missionaries * , Cagri Erhan


Members of various American missionary organizations, mainly affiliates of American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM, the Board) started LO visit the Levant region in the second decade of the nineteenth century. Moving out from Beirot, the missionaries established protestant churches, schools, hospita1s and other social facilities mostly in non-Muslim populated areas of the Empire. While during early years of Ottoman-American encounters the Sublime Porte was indifferent towards missionary activities among its subjects, the official attitude gradually changed and became negative in the following years, paraııeling the increase in the number of complaints from non-Muslim clergy, the Muslims and the government officials. While the missionary activities gave impetus to the awakening of nationalism among some of the non-Muslim subjects of the Empire, such as Armenians and Bulgarians, Ottoman negative approach to American missionaries reached its climax during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Accordingly, this article evaluates the causes and process of the change in the Ottoman official attitude towards the American missionaries . .

Turkey and the United States; Ottoman Empire; American Missionaries; American Philanthropy; United States and the Middle East

*This is a revised and enlarged version of a paper delivered to International Conference on "The United States and the Middle East: Cultural Encounters", Yale University, 7-8 December 2000.

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