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Recent historians of Ottoman movements emphasize that many sincere officials attempted to bring progressive change to the Empire and that all imperial decrees were not mere "paper reforms". This view undoubtedly has validity, but it is difficult to substantiate in the Armenian experience. European intervention unsustained by force added to the tragedy of the Armenians. Even before the proclamation of the reform act of October, 1895, massacres had begun in Trabizond. In the following months, the Armenian Plateau met with the same fate. 14 Abdul Hamid's actual response to European meddling was the extirpation of between one and two hundred thousand Armenians during 1895-1896. Thousands more suffered material ruin or fled abroad. 15 Once again, the nations of Europe, now involved in the struggle of for empire, turned away from the tragedy to which they had contributed. 16 Nor could the Armenians any longer find solace in Russia. Her new foreign minister, B. A. Lobanov-Rostovsky did not want another Bulgaria on the border of Transcaucasia. His solution was an "Armenia without Armenians". 17 Such views were naturally shared by Prince Golitsyn, the proponent of confiscating the properties of the Armenian Church.

The Armenians revolutionaries were not successful in their battle against Abdul Hamid as they were in their campaign against Golitsyn. In the decade following 1896, disillusion and disappointment were widespread among the populace. It was, however, too late to retreat. Attention was turned from evils of the system to the culpability of the Sultan. Dashnaktsoutiun, ascribing importance to the role of the individual in history, plotted to eliminate Abdul Hamid. 18 Kristapor Mikayelian, one of the party's founders, directed a group of conspirators to carry out the verdict in 1905. By a quirk of fate, the plans were foiled; Abdul Hamid lived, but Mikayelian died from the explosives intended for the Sultan. 19 Significantly, participants in the plot were of several nationalities, for by the turn of the century, Dashnaktsoutiun had accepted the tactic of collaboration with other groups struggling against the common oppressor.

The "Young Turks" and the Coup f 1908

Armenians were not alone in their opposition to the Sultan. In Geneva, Paris, and other émigré centres, the "Young Turks" formed societies, drafted programs for change, and envisaged a new, improved state structure for their homeland. Patriotic Turkish leaders like Ahmed Riza believed that only the institution of efficient, just government could save the Ottoman Empire from dissolution. 20 In 1902 the first congress of Ottoman liberals, attended by Turkish, Arab, Greek, Kurdish, Armenian, Albanian, Circassian, and Jewish representatives, convened in Paris. Though united in condemnation of Abdul Hamid, the congress split on the issue of inviting the European nations to intervene on behalf of the abused peoples of the Empire. 21 Riza denounced the Armenian-sponsored majority resolution calling for intervention and opposed any form of regional-national self-rule. In his view, "Autonomy is treason; it means separation." 22

14) It is of interest that British consular reports of 1892-1895 relating to excesses committed against the Armenians were not published until 1896, after the world opinion had been roused once more against the Turk. Hundreds of documents concerning the massacres of 1895-1896 and their antecedents are included in the British "Blue Book," the most pertinent of which are the following: "Correspondence relating to the Asiatic Provinces of Turkey, 1892-1893", Sess., 1896, XCV (Accounts and Papers) c. 8015, Turkey No. 3 (1896) [includes documents from December, 1891, to December, 1893]; "Correspondence relating…, !894-1895", Sess., 1896, XCVI (Accounts and Papers) c. 8108, Turkey No. 6 (1896) [documents from December, 1893, to September, 1895]; "Correspondence relative to the Armenian Question and Reports from Her Majesty's Consular Officers in Asiatic Turkey", Sess. 1896, XCV (Accounts and Papers) c. 7927, Turkey No. 2(1896) [events of September, 1895-February, 1896]; "Further Correspondence relating to the Asiatic Provinces of Turkey", Sess. 1896, XCVI (Accounts and Papers) c. 8273, Turkey No. 8 (1896) [to August, 1896]. Also consult France, Ministère des Affaires Étrangères, "Documents diplomatiques: Affaires arméniennes: Projects de réformes dans l'empire Ottoman, 1893-1897" (Paris, 1897), nos. 116-235, and ("Suppplément) 1895-1896 (Paris, 1897), nos. 1-178; Germany, "Politik", X, nos. 2410, 2424, 2425, 2428-2430, 2433, 2435, 2437, 2444, 2447, 2448, 2450, 245-2459, 2470, 2471, 2476; XII, pt. 1 (1924), nos. 2891-2893, 2909, 3071.

15) Hundreds of books and articles, overwhelmingly Turcophobe, were written on the subject during the last ten years of the century. With final statistics not yet gathered, Johannes Lepsius presented the following count of losses:

People killed - 88,243
Towns and villages plundered - 2,493
Churches and monasteries plundered - 645
Villages forcibly Islamised - 646
Churches transformed into mosques - 328
Victims left destitute - 546,000

Taken from his "Armenia and Europe: An Indictment" (London, 1897), pp. 330-331. Also consult Sir Edwin Pears, "Life of Abdul Hamid" (New York, 1917), pp. 235-243; Georges Clemenceau, "Les massacres d'Arménie: Témoignages des victimes" (Paris, 1896); Augustus Warner Williams and M. S. Gabriel, "Bleeding Armenia: Its History and Horrors under the Curse of Islam" (Chicago, 1896); J. Rendel and Helen B. Harris, "Letters from the Scenes of the Recent Massacres in Armenia" (New York, Chicago, and Toronto, 1897); Félix Charmetant, "Martyrologe Arménien: Tableau official des massacres d'Arménie" (Paris, 1896); Gilles Roy, "Abdul Hamid, le sultan rouge" (Paris, 1936), pp. 125-134, 157-175.

16) Concerning the failure of the reform plan and the European abandonment of the question, consult, in addition to Great Britain, Parliament, House of Commons, Turkey No. 2 and Turkey No. 8 (1896), "Further Correspondence respecting the Asiatic Provinces of Turkey and Events in Constantinople", Sess., 1897, CI (Accounts and Papers) c. 8305, Turkey No. 3 (1897); Germany, "Politik", X, nos. 2445, 2448-2449, 2461, 2472-2479, XII, nos. 2889-2890, 2908, 2910, 3065, 3068, 3071-3104, 3111, 3113; France, Ministére des Affaires Étrangères, Commission de Publication des Documents Relatifs aux Origines de la Guerre de 1914, "Documents diplomatiques françis (1871-1914)", 1re série (1871-1900), XIII (Paris, 1943). Most related correspondence is included between nos. 1 and 252.

17) Lobanov's reserve in the projects for Armenian reforms was expressed many times during the negotiations of 1895 and in the diplomatic exchanges of the following year. He warned the British ambassador to Russia that the Armenian committees were directing an international plot to create an independent Armenian kingdom. For representative views of the Russian Foreign Ministry until the death of Lobanov-Rostovsky in summer of 1896, consult Great Britain, Parliament, House of Commons, "Correspondence respecting the Introduction of Reforms in the Armenian Provinces of Asiatic Turkey", Ses., 1896, XCV (Accounts and Papers) c. 7923, Turkey No. 1 (1896), nos. 14, 44, 65, 71, 76, 78, 83, 94, 110, 120, 136, 138-140, 174, 192; Germany, "Politik", IX, nos. 2208, 2212, X, nos. 2436, 2443, 2445, 2455, XII, nos. 2883-2884, 2887. Also Bérard in "La Revue de Paris", 40th yr. (January 15, 1897), pp. 441-446.

18) The decision was made at the party's Third General Congress, held at Sofia in 1904. Consult Mikayel Varandian, "H. H. Dashnaktsoutian patmoutyoun" [History of the A. (Armenian) R. (Revolutionary) Federation], I (Paris, 1932), 436-445.

19) A. Aharonian, "Kristapor Mikayelian" (Boston, 1926), pp. 155-165; Mikayel Vardanian, "H. H. Dashnaktsoutian patmoutyoun" [History of the A. (Armenian) R. (Revolutionary) Federation], I (Paris, 1932), I, 436-445; Gabriel Lazian, "Hayastan yev Hai Date: Hai-yev-rous haraberoutyounneru louysin tak" [Armenia and the Armenian Question: Under the light of Armeno-Russian Relations] (Cairo, 1957), pp. 140-151.

20) An excellent study of these men and their ideals is Ernest Edmondson Ramsaur's "The Young Turks: Prelude to the Revolution of 1908" (Princeton, 1957). Also consult Ernest Jackh, "The Rising Crescent: Turkey Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" (New York and Toronto, [1944], pp. 93-94; and Paul Fesch, "Constantinople aux derniers jours d'Abdul Hamid", (Paris, 1907), pp. 332-341.

21) Ernest Edmondson Ramsaur, "The Young Turks: Prelude to the Revolution of 1908" (Princeton, 1957), pp. 47-74; Paul Fesch, "Constantinople aux derniers jours d'Abdul Hamid", (Paris, 1907), pp. 342-375; Bernard Lewis, "The Emergence of Modern Turkey" (London, 1961), pp. 197-199; Leo [A. Babakhanian], "Tiurkahai heghapokhoutian gaghaparabanoutyoune" [The Ideology of the Turkish Armenian Revolution], II (Paris, 1935), 44.

22) John McDonald, "Turkey and the Eastern Question" (London, [1913]), p. 55.