1308) The N. Y. Times Allows a Rare "Pro-Turk" View in 1895

To its credit, the doggedly pro-Armenian New York Times allowed a rare pro-Turkish letter in 1895. A pity the letter-writer failed to identify himself, and the A.P. correspondent whose strong words are pointed to, in an effort to get brainwashed Westerners to see the light. Whomever the correspondent was (most likely the same one who wrote this other letter, presenting the "Turk's Side of the Story"), he sure got it straight when he wrote, " no reliance whatever ought to be placed on Armenian testimony and assertions.." Few were listening then and amazingly, over a century later, as few if not fewer are listening now.

The New York Times August 23, 1895



Proof of the Assertion that Armenian Revolutionists Caused It.


A. Protest Against Americans Helping England to Realize Political Aspirations in the East.

To the Editor of The New York Times
In our previous letter we affirmed that the Sassoun troubles were brought about by the criminal efforts of Armenian revolutionary committees, and that no reliance whatever ought to be placed on Armenian testimony and assertions. We now propose to prove these two affirmations, not by Turkish ? that Is to say Mussulman-testimony, but by American and European- namely, Christian testimony.

First-The man who, above all, gave the most explicit and true account of the Armenian revolutionary movement is the Rev. Cyrua Hamlin himself On the 23d of December. 1893, or, In other words, only a few months before the revolt of Sassoun, he published in The Congregationalist a truly prophetic statement the perusal of which Is absolutely necessary for an impartial understanding of tho case. Here Is this statement:

"An Armenian 'revolutionary party' is causing great evil and suffering to the missionary work and to the whole Christian population of certain parts of the Turkish Empire. It is a secret organization and is managed with a skill in deceit which is known only in the East. In a widely distributed pamphlet the following announcement is made at the close.

'This is the only Armenian party which is leading on the revolutionary movement in Armenia. Its center is Athens, and it has branches in every village and city in Armenia, also in the colonies. Nishan Garabedian, one of the founders of the party, is in America, and those desiring to get further information may communicate with him, addressing Nishan Garabedian, No. 15 Fountain Street, Worcester, Mass., or with the center, M. Beniard, Poste Restante, Athens, Greece.

A very intelligent Armenian gentleman, who speaks fluently and correctly English as well as Armenian, and is an eloquent defender of the revolution, assured me that they have the strongest hopes of preparing the way for Russia?s entrance to Asia Minor to take possession. In answer to the question how, he replied: ?These Huntchagist bands, organized all over the empire, will watch their opportunities to kill Turks and Kurds, set fire to their villages and then make their escape into the mountains. The enraged Moslems will then rise and fall upon the defenseless Armenians and slaughter them with such barbarities that Russia will enter in the name of humanity and Christian civilization and take possession.

When I denounced the scheme as atrocious and infernal beyond anything ever known, he calmly replied: 'It appears so to you, no doubt, but we Armenians are determined to be free. Europe listened to the Bulgarian horrors and made Bulgaria free. She will listen to our cry when it goes up in the shrieks and blood of millions of women and children.' I urged in vain that this scheme will make the very name of Armenian hateful among all civilized people. He replied, 'We are desperate; we shall do it.'

'But your people do not want Russian protection. They prefer Turkey, bad as she is. There are hundreds of miles of conterminous territory into which emigration is easy at all times. It has been so for all the centuries of the Moslem rule. If your people preferred the Russian Government there would not be now an Armenian family in Turkey.' 'Yes,' he replied, 'and for such stupidity they will have to suffer.' I have had conversations with others who avow the same things, but no one acknowledges that he is a member of the party. Falsehood is, of course, justifiable where murder and arson are.

In Turkey the party aims to excite the Turks against Protestant missionaries and against Protestant Armenians. All the troubles at Marsovan originated in their movements. They are cunning, unprincipled and cruel. They terrorize their own people by demanding contributions of money under threats of assassination-a threat which has often been put in execution.

I have made the mildest possible disclosure of only a few of the abominations of this Huntchagist revolutionary party. It is of Russian origin, Russian gold and craft govern it. Let all missionaries, home and foreign, denounce it. Let all Protestant Armenians everywhere boldly denounce it. It is trying to enter every Sunday school and deceive and pervert the innocent and ignorant into supporters of this craft. We must therefore be careful that in befriending Armenians we do nothing that can be construed into an approval of this movement, which all should abhor. While yet we recognize the probability that some Armenians in this country, ignorant of the real object and cruel designs of the Huntchagists, are led by their patriotism to join with them, and while we sympathize with the sufferings of the Armenians at home, we must stand aloof from any such desperate attempts, which contemplate the destruction of Protestant missions, churches, schools and Bible work, involving all in a common ruin that is diligently and craftily sought. Let all home and foreign missionaries beware of any alliance with, or countenance of, the Huntchagists."

We do not really know whether the Rev. Cyrus Hamlin is considered to be a prophet In his own country, but his prophetic faculties as far as the last Armenian revolt is concerned are not denied in Turkey. They are simply marvelous-for months before the occurrence of the Sassoun troubles the Rev. Cyrus Hamlin had exactly and minutely shown what they would be. And yet, after the fulfillment of his own prophecy, the Rev. Cyrus Hamlin was bold enough to say that the above statement was written by him only 'to show the absurdity of the revolutionary plotters.' The reverend gentleman must have a candid and Innocent soul. Otherwise he would not have attempted to prove to fair-minded Americans that the "bloodthirstlness" of the Armenian revolutionary plotters is synonymous to their "absurdity." We suppose that the Rev. Cyrus Hamlin will also attribute to the "absurdity of revolutionary plotters" the following statement, showing his past guilty Interference m Turkish affairs. One of these Armenian "plotters" made some time ago to The Boston Herald this extraordinary admisslon. which, for the honor of Robert College, if not tor his own, the Rev. Cyrus Hamlin ought, if he can, to contradict.

"Several years ago, writes the Armenian, "I heard him lecture at Amherst, Mass How proud he was to tell his audience the important part taken by the Bulgarian graduates of Robert College in securing the freedom and independence of their country." I ask the Rev. Cyrus Hamlin if he was not aware of the existence of patriotic societies among his Bulgarian students."

But in order to show that the Rev. Cyrus Hamlin's prophecy holds good, let American readers reflect on the following passage of a letter written by the special correspondent of the Associated Press, who visited Turkey after the Sassoun revolt, and who, although bitterly opposed to the Turkish Government, wrote as follows.

"It Is a fact that certain of the Armenian conspirators arranged to murder the Rev. Edward Riggs and two other American missionaries at Marsovan and fasten the blame upon the Turks In order that the United States might inflict summary punishment upon the Turkish Government, thereby making possible Armenian Independence. One will search a long time in the pages of history for a more diabolical plot than that. Moreover, the missionaries would have been murdered had not an Armenian friend warned them. Dr. Riggs has unselfishly given his life to the education of Armenian youth In the missionary schools and done more than any Armenian has ever tried to do toward making Armenians worthy of autonomous government. Yet the revolutionary conspirators apparently gave that fact little thought * * * It Is of course, impossible to say to what extent radical ideas prevail among the revolutionary propagandists, but the plans of some of the leaders are shocking In the extreme.

"In brief, their plans are to commit atrocities upon Turks, in order that the infuriated Turks shall shock the Christian world by the fiendish outrages of their retaliation. When remonstrated with in regard to these un-Christian plans, the men who are responsible for them merely say: 'It may seem to you cruel and barbarous, but we know what we are doing, and why we are doing it.'

"The financial methods of these men are almost as Ingenious as their plans of political agitation. Certain Armenians of a lower grade of mental ability are required to furnish so many thousand piastres to the committee, and the means of obtaining the money are plainly mapped out. Here Is a case in point.

"A wealthy Turk In the service of the Government in Constantinople received a letter one morning, saying that unless he deposited 12,000 piastres In a certain place within twenty-four hours he would be killed. An investigation led to the discovery of the fact that the letter was written by an Armenian who had been In his employ as a trusted servant for several years. The servant confessed his guilt, but he asserted in self-defense that revolutionary agitators had compelled him to write the letter under penalty of death. It was a case of choice of wills, and the poor wretch saved his life at the expense of a long term of Imprisonment. It Is believed that a great deal of money is raised In this way, but whether or not this money gets beyond the pockets of the revolutionary agitators, no man pretends to know. There Is a theory that this money Is used in the purchase of rifles and ammunition, but that is a matter known only to the agitators themselves.

The reason why English public opinion is generally in favor of the Armenians is both political and religious. No real esteem for the Armenians themselves exists in England. Besides everybody admits in Europe that Armenians are, as a race, much inferior to the Turks. Armenians, even in olden times, showed no greatness. Their influence in art, in literature, in warlike achievements, they have left no trace. But they are Christians, and this Is one reason why English public opinion is in their favor. The political reason lies in the fact that England wishes to harass Turkey for the just opposition of the latter to English scandalous encroachments on Egyptian territory which, after all, belongs legitimately to the Sultan. It is just as if England had taken possession of one of your States and at the same time were fomenting discontent for, and disapprobation of, your treatment of the Indian race which Columbus found supreme on this continent.

Such being the real state of things, we consider that it is quite time for public opinion in the United States to see how erroneous and even anti-American is the policy which consists in helping England in her political aspirations in the East. American public opinion ought to remain aloof from European intrigues. It ought especially to learn to estimate correctly the value of Armenian assertions and of the Armenian moral standard.

"If," writes the Associated Press correspondent above quoted, "the detailed facts of the Sassoun massacre are ever established, it must be independently of Armenian testimony, or their value may be seriously questioned. In the first place, every Armenian with whom it has been my lot to come In contact seems to have a very vague idea of the value of truth. In the second place, in his anxiety to make out a case against the Turk, he is willing to publish as fact, any grotesque rumor that he may chance to fall over in the street. In the third place he does not really know what actually took place In the Sassoun mountains but his vanity will not permit him to acknowledge it, and so, to be up with the times and to help along the cause of his people, he embellishes the rumor that he hears and frequently says that he is in secret communication with friends in Moosh and Bltlis, who are harboring Sassoun refugees. The average Armenian cannot be believed on oath."

In this deplorable condition of Armenian honesty we find a true explanation of the following remarkable Incident, an account of which was given at the time, as follows, by all the newspapers.

"The story which has been thrilling the world for some time past of the wife of the Armenian leader Grego, who, rather than suffer dishonor at the hands of her Turkish persecutors, threw herself, with her child in her arms, into an abyss, and was followed by other women until the ravine was filled with corpses, has been exploded, as many persons predicted it would be, at the time it was sprung upon the public. It has been discovered that the horrible narrative is a reproduction, with additions and embellishments to suit the occasion, of an old tale told in poetry by Mrs. Hemans years ago, under the title of 'The Suliote Mother.'"

In the face of all the innumerable Armenian falsehoods of this kind, word has just reached us that Mr. Gladstone, in his Chester speech, asserted that the world is in possession of Independent American testimony favorable to the Armenians. No greater error has ever been made. Mr. Gladstone ought to have known better. There Is absolutely no American testimony regarding the Sassoun troubles. And the reason is very simple. No American was at the Sassoun district at the time of the revolt. The Rev. F. D. Greene, it is true, published a slanderous pamphlet on the "Armenian Crisis In Turkey," in which he printed a few documents supposed to be well authenticated. But as no American-born citizen saw anything of the Sassoun disturbances, it follows necessarily that said documents were written either by Armenians or by American missionaries, under the inspiration of Armenians. Therefore, the Rev. F. D. Greene's pamphlet Is based uoon Armenian falsehoods. This makes, it utterly and completely valueless. Mr. Gladstone owes to us to show where and how he was able to find a single genuine American document favoring the Armenian allegations, that Is to say, the allegations of a people who "cannot be believed on oath." Facts, however, have very seldom disturbed Mr. Gladstone's fanaticism. We trust that Americans having no political views on Turkey will see how dangerous it is to encourage, either by word or by moral help Armenian revolutionists, for the simple reason that they are Christians. "Armenia," wrote some time ago the correspondent mentioned above, "is preparing for war. The revolutionary party has now both money and guns. During the past eight weeks money has poured into the revolutionary treasury in a steady stream from the Armenian colonies in Batoum, Tiflis. Baku, Erivan, Etchmiadzin and other places in Russia, and from Rescht, Kazvin, Teheran. Tabrlz, Khol and other cities In Persia. I have not visited the Armenian colonies on the north coast of the Black Sea, nor the large colony at Ispahan in Southern Persia, but I am reliably informed that revolutionary agents have been as busy there as elsewhere. I have myself seen a considerable sum of this money raised publicly, and I am told that the wealthy Armenian merchants in the cities I have named have made large private contributions, with promises of more for future use if needed.

The money raised publicly has been obtained by means of balls, social entertainments, theatrical performances, and lotteries. These functions were ostensibly for the 'benefit of the Sassoun refugees.' But it was a very thin disguise. It was thoroughly understood what the money was wanted for, and that the Sassoun refugees would not see a penny of it except in the shape of rifles and ammunition."

The cries, therefore, in favor of the Sassoun refugees and the famished are either based on Armenian falsehoods or uttered by those who have political aims to further and attain. Could Americans be deceived by "such a very thin disguise" ? We doubt it.
??? Constantinople, Aug. 8

Naturally, the N. Y. Times was not going to allow such a "pro-Turk" view without slipping in the traditional propaganda. The following item was featured on the same page:


Great Numbers Starving In the Woods ? A Threatened Famine-American Committee's Appeal.

The following appeal for aid for the victims of Turkish outrages In Armenia was Issued yesterday The people there, It Is said, are threatened with famine, and in one district alone 860 houseless people are living In the woods and in great need of the necessities of life:

27 Pine Street, New York, Aug 22, 1895
For nearly a year the story of the horrible Turkish outrages upon the Armenians in Sassoun, Armenia has shocked all civilized nations. Conclusive evidence has established the sickening fact that the atrocities in the Sassoun equaled In savagery those perpetrated in the past by the same fiends In Greece, Crete and Bulgaria. Unfortunately, universal Indignation could not secure, so far, either present relief or future protection to the many thousands of victims of Moslem fanaticism. Only through the slow diplomatic Intervention of the great European powers can such be In time obtained for them.

A strong committee of leading Englishmen, representing all parties and all classes, has been formed, under the Chairmanship of the Duke of Argyll, and has already raised and forwarded a considerable sum of money. Believing that our generous countrymen will be glad to follow the noble example of the kindred nation, an American committee has been organized for the same object.

The committee herewith confidently appeals to the American public for liberal contributions, which will be distributed through the agency of the English committee, or through the Armenian Patriarch at Constantinople, as contributors may prefer. Checks should be made payable to Spencer Trask, Treasurer, 21 Pine Street, New York.

The following are the American committee: Mrs. Robert Abbe, Prof. N. Murray Butler, Morris K Jesup. Jacob H. Schiff, Spencer Trask, the Rev. Henry Van Dyke, D. D., Mrs Henry Villard, and Everett P Wheeler.

A. AYVAZIAN, M D , Secretary,
424 West Flfty seventh Street, New York.

(Testimonials follow by Dr. Grace N. Kimball, "an American missionary," Mr. Graves, the English Consul at "Erzeroum, Armenia," writing to Sir Philip Currln, the English Ambassador at Constantinople: "I am Informed there is much sickness among the returned refugees... I have the honor to transmit copies of an extract from a private letter from Moush dated June 24, which gives an account of the privations endured... " The extract concludes with, "There are more than 5,000 of these Sassounlis people destitute and hungry.")

Another side to the above claims of propaganda:

"Among missionaries in the field there were numerous examples of what Terrell euphemistically described as 'indiscretions'. In June 1895 missionary Cole sent a telegram from Bitlis to the US Legation and the British embassy claiming that 65 people died of starvation at Sasun and criticizing the administration of the sultan's relief funds. But it was found that no one had died of starvation at Sasun and Cole's remarks about the workings of the relief fund, which were likely to be brought to the attention of higher authorities, were classified by Terrell as 'an imprudent interference with the charity of others.'" Jeremy Salt, IMPERIALISM EVANGELISM AND THE OTTOMAN ARMENIANS 1878-1896, Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. U.K. , p. 53

An illustration from the book "Turkey and the Armenian Atrocities, published in the United States in 1896. Caption: "Slaughter of Armenians in Sasun. This is a true picture of the slaughter of innocent people which was inflicted on the innocent Armenians by the bloody Kurds and enraged soldiers. The carnage ended in the massacre of 50,000 people or more. Hundreds of thousands were left without food or shelter after the plundering and burning." (Erich Feigl, The Myth of Terror)

Reality: Sassun was a mountainous region which had been able to keep a semi-independence, like that other Armenian trouble spot, Zeitun*. There were two major rebellions in Sassun, the first rebellion lasting from 1891-1894, led by Damadian and the notorious Murad, who had incited 3,000 Armenians to rebel. This rebellion gave rise to fierce anti-Turkish propaganda in Europe, those such as Williams and Bliss having a field day accepting the word of Armenians. At least these two settled on a wildly exaggerated death toll of some 6,000, more than half the Armenian population. This is the kind of vicious propaganda that was commonplace. These men (along with Pastermadjian) figured there were 12,000 Armenians in Sassun, and in the American book above, 50,000 or more casualties were arrived at, with an additional 100s of thousands suffering. Is it any wonder why dense or immoral people repeat wild claims like 300,000 dying in this period? (Compare: As unfair as Bliss was, his figure for the same period was around 42,000. The British Blue Book of the period itself even didn't go beyond 63,000.)

How many actually died? Cuinet figured there were not 12,000 but 8,369 Armenians in the entire Sassun region. A consular report felt no more than 10,000, putting the number of dead at only 265. A British representative wrote separately that the number could not have surpassed 900. (Source: Foreign archives from "The Armenian File")

Flash forward, Sassun mountains, WWI: France's Soleil du Midi reported on February 9, 1916 that there were 30,000 Armenian revolutionaries "fighting hopelessly" for nine months, waiting for the arrival of the Russian enemy.

(* Zeitun: "...[T]he spirit of the Zeitun mountaineers remained alert. The [Ottoman] government launched a number of expeditions against the town, but these were unsuccessful. The warrior spirit of its armed inhabitants, and its fortress-like setting, made Zeitun a natural focus for the attention of a nationalist or revolutionary, who had seen the success of the revolts in Greece and Serbia. Perhaps a similar success could be gained in Cilicia..." Christopher J. Walker, Armenia, The Survival of a Nation, 1980, pp. 100-101).

© Holdwater
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