History Of The Missions Of The American Board Of Commissioners For Foreign Missions To The Oriental Churches, Volume II.

History Of The Missions Of The American Board Of Commissioners For Foreign Missions To The Oriental Churches, Volume II.

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THE ARMENIANS.

1846-1855.

Several European governments, and especially England, performed an important part in securing civil and religious freedom to the Protestant Armenians.[1]

[1] This is impressively set forth in the Correspondence respecting the Condition of Protestants in Turkey, published by order of Parliament in 1851, pp. 154 folio.

In March, 1846, Sir Stratford Canning, English Ambassador at Constantinople, reported to his government thirty-six evangelical Armenians as persecuted by the Patriarch. To this he added personal efforts to meliorate their condition, which resulted in promises from Turkish officials and the Patriarch of better treatment, promises that were by no means fulfilled.

Upon learning that the Armenian Protestants had been organized into a church, he transmitted to Lord Palmerston, the Foreign Secretary, their declaration of reasons for so doing, and their confession of faith.

The Hon. H. R. Wellesley, better known as Lord Cowley, on taking, the place of Sir Stratford during his visit to England, cordially took up the unfinished work of his predecessor, and urged upon Lord Palmerston the importance of procuring from the Porte a recognition of the Protestant Armenians as an independent community. He showed that, in spite of the liberal assurances extorted from the Patriarch, they were exposed to daily injury and insult, and would continue to be so until recognized by the Porte as a distinct community among its Christian subjects. At the same time, he forwarded a copy of an able declaration by the American missionaries of their objects in coming to Turkey, which they had made to the Porte through Mr. Carr, the American Minister. Lord Cowley was instructed by Lord Palmerston, "to bring the situation of these people earnestly under the consideration of the Porte, and urgently to press the Turkish government to acknowledge them as a separate religious sect." In December the Porte freed the Protestant Armenians from the rule of the Armenian Patriarch, so far as regarded their commercial and temporal affairs, and allowed them to appoint an agent, who should manage their affairs with the government; and also to keep separate registers of marriages, births, and deaths. The Chevalier Bunsen, the well known Prussian Ambassador in Paris, now entered into the work, and recommended, that their recognition be as durable and complete as that of the other Christian nationalities. To this proposal Lord Palmerston cordially assented; but the Turkish officials were, as usual, disinclined to go forward.

On the 19th of November, 1847, Lord Cowley had the satisfaction of announcing, that the Grand Vizier, wishing, as he said, to do something that he knew would be agreeable to his lordship, before he should leave the country, had obtained the Sultan's permission to issue a vizierial letter in his Majesty's name, which would establish their independence at once.[1]

[1] This letter may be found in Missionary Herald for 1848, p. 98.

At the suggestion of Lord Cowley, the Porte promised to send letters to five different pashalics where there were Protestants, requiring them to act in accordance with the letter; in which was granted the privilege of toleration to all Protestant subjects alike, whether from the Armenian, Greek, Syrian, or Roman Catholic Churches, or from the Jews....