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
THE SASSOUN MASSACRE
Proof of the Assertion that Armenian Revolutionists Caused It.
TESTIMONY OF REV. CYRUS HAMLIN
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
'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
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
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
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
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
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
What follows is likely the "previous letter" the above correspondent
referred to, published August 1, 1895 in The New York Times:
The Other Side of the Armenian Question.
To the Editor of The New York Times:
The Turkish Government has never denied that serious disturbances have taken place
at the district of Sassoun. What it has denied is the accusation that there was a
premeditated massacre, and yet this is the absurd basis upon which is built the
whole Armenian agitation, both in Armenia and in Europe. The mere idea that the
Sultan would order a massacre of his Christian subjects, Armenians or no Armenians,
is ridiculous in itself, and denotes a credulous belief in the falsehoods and
calumnies propagated by the Armenian revolutionary committees.
We cannot understand here in Turkey how serious American newspapers could accept and
print in their columns assertions made with the object of throwing odium on the
legitimate authority of a friendly power. Mere affirmations ought not to be
considered as sufficient. Proofs ought to be asked above everything else. If such
were the case, the most wild absurdities about Turkey would never appear in the
daily press. What, however, has surprised some people most is to see the boldness
and fanaticism of not a few American clergymen, who, unmindful of the teachings of
their Master and of the well-known determination of the Sultan to better every day
the condition of all his subjects, try to impart a religious and fanatical tendency
to a question that is, and ought to remain, a political one.
That Turkey does not make any religious distinctions between her subjects is shown
by the fact that Armenians, who, as a race, are certainly much inferior to the
Turks, occupy very high positions in Turkey. While this is the case with Mahommedan
Turkey, may we ask who are the Christian Governments that reward their Jewish
subjects, for example, with corresponding honors and influence? And yet the Jewish
race is indeed a great one, for it has left a mark in the history of mankind.
What Turkey wants is peace, and she is determined to have it. The Sassoun
disturbances were brought about by the Armenian revolutionary committees. Turkey, as
an independent State had to put down these disturbances. She did it with a severity
less great than the one displayed by England in similar circumstances. As regards
now the demand for reforms, let it be remembered that reforms are needed in every
country, and not in Turkey alone. We have not heard that the Irish question has been
solved, and yet nobody recommends to England to abandon her sovereign rights and
independence. Turkey will stick to the same rule, for she has the same rights and
the same independence. In the meantime, it would be well for the Armenian public
opinion, instead of showing an implicit faith in Armenian falsehoods, to let these
Armenian Christians know that they ought, for their own sake, to abandon their
seditious agitation. The rest will necessarily follow.
Constantinople, July 15.
Holdwater: almost as though the above was written
today, and not back in 1895! Today as well, the whole "genocide" issue
boils down to whether there was premeditation, and exactly as today:
We cannot understand... how serious American newspapers could accept and print in
their columns assertions made with the object of... [demonizing Turkey]. Mere
affirmations ought not to be considered as sufficient. Proofs ought to be asked
above everything else. If such were the case, the most wild absurdities about
Turkey would never appear in the daily press.
The one unnerving part regarded the Armenians' racial inferiority in comparison to
Turks which, assuming the above was written by an Ottoman spokesman, is the first
I've ever read, coming from a "Turk." (As opposed to the countless times
we've read of the Turks' racial inferiority to Armenians, from Ambassador Morgenthau
on down to missionaries like Clarence Ussher, and Armenians today in their forums.)
I'd suspect the writer had become so aware of the Armenians' destructive mischief,
he developed a serious antipathy. (in the vein that many Westeners developed, once
they got close and personal; as Sir Mark Sykes wrote: "[M]any ... almost
fanatically in favour of the Armenians, became so disgusted by the baseness of their
nature as to abandon them with satisfaction to their fate.")
Wonderful points about the double-standards employed, ignored equally then as they
are now. "What Turkey wants is peace," we are told, but peace is
one thing the beleaguered nation would not be granted from its calculating neighbors.
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 (of
the August 23 edition):
SUFFERING AMONG ARMENIANS
AID ASKED FOR THE VICTIMS TURKISH OUTRAGES.
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
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
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)
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.)
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")
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.
"...[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).