Armenian News Network / Groong


Armenian News Network / Groong
April 12, 2010

By Kay Mouradian, EdD

May, 1914

The American flag waved in the wind as the SCORPION, the American embassy's ship, steamed up the Dardanelles and into the Sea of Marmora on it way back to Constantinople. Standing together on the starboard deck, Morgenthau and his wife, Josie, smelled the salty air, a gentle breeze blowing against their faces.

Morgenthau's eyes were drawn toward Stamboul and the numerous minarets reaching up toward the heavens. He was in one of his reflective moods, and he was grateful his wife knew this was a time when her silence was golden. Looking toward the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, he felt a deep sense of familiarity. He loved Constantinople, found the city very comfortable and wondered if he could have lived there in a previous life. During the last four months he'd had recurring dreams of being a high priest in an ancient temple in Constantinople. He sighed as he watched the sun, now a huge orange red ball, dip toward the horizon.

The inspection trip was more successful than he could have imagined. Not only did he find the American consuls in the far flung Ottoman cities running well, but he also came away impressed with the American missionaries. Their hospitals and schools were wonderful. Even the Khedive in Cairo expressed his gratitude to the American ambassador for the American colleges, since many of his Egyptian people attended and received their education from them.

He had a much clearer vision of the empire. Witnessing abject poverty, Morgenthau learned of unfair taxation schemes burdening the peasantry. He would speak of this and other problems with Talaat. One of the problems concerned the Jews in Palestine. Most came from Russia and Romania, but there were two small American colonies. One, sixty families from Chicago, and the other, forty families from Philadelphia, were finding it difficult to buy large plots of land. Wealthy Arabs did not want to sell to them.

As the SCORPION turned the bend into the harbor, the sun's golden rays fell upon the gentle waves. The inlet became a glittering cornucopia. Now Morgenthau understood why the harbor was called the Golden Horn.

`The captain suddenly appeared. `Sir, we will be docking in a few minutes. I've already radioed the embassy with an approximate time of arrival.'

`Thank you, Captain.'

The ship glided alongside the wharf beneath the Galata Bridge, and two sailors jumped onto the wooden platform, tied and secured the boat. Morgenthau looked up to see his car and chauffeur waiting on the bridge. `Captain, I won't need you for a couple of days. You and your men deserve time off.'

`Thank you, Sir.' Helping the ambassador's wife off the boat, the Captain accompanied the couple up the stairs to the bridge bustling with human activity. Two young sailors carried Morgenthau's luggage and rearranged the four pieces until they fit into the trunk of the Ambassador's car. Whiffs of fried fish from restaurants on the wharf filled the air.

Together in the back seat, the Morgenthaus waved goodbye to the Captain and his sailors as the chauffeur drove off. Weaving through carriages, horses, donkeys and people walking in the middle of the bridge, they crossed into Galata and arrived at the embassy minutes later.

As they entered the embassy, Mr. Phillip was in the foyer, waiting.

`You're here late,' Morgenthau said and noted the concerned look on his first secretary's face. `Problems?'

`Yes. One could be major.'

`I want to change into something clean and comfortable. Have the chef fix me a sandwich and I'll join you in the dining room.'

Minutes later when Morgenthau sat at the table eating a shish-ka-bob sandwich and drinking English tea, Mr. Phillip alerted him that the Minister of Marine, Jemal Pasha, was upset and called daily to see if the Ambassador had returned. `He wants you to stop the sale of the American dreadnoughts to the Greeks.'

`That's not in my power.'

`Jemal says the Greeks will start a war with Turkey if they get those ships before Turkey gets her English ships.'

`Call him at home. He's welcome to breakfast with me, if he wants an early start.'

`Eight o'clock?'

`Yes, Morgenthau took a bite of his sandwich and relished the taste of the seared lamb. `What else?'

`The ship KAISER WILHEM with a hundred American tourists on board is scheduled to be in port the day after tomorrow. Would you like to schedule a reception for them?'


`The Armenian Parliamentarians, Zohrab and Vartkes want you to meet one of the Europeans assigned to inspect conditions in Armenia.'

`Schedule that meeting after Jemal's. Anything else?'

`I found a large house in Therapia for the embassy's summer residence. You and Mrs. Morgenthau need to decide if it's appropriate. I told the owner we need the premises on June first.'

`Have the other embassies moved, yet?'

`The Germans have. By the way while you were away there was another fire in the city. The Goeben, a German dreadnought, just happened to be anchored in the Bosporus and three hundred German sailors joined the Turks to put out the fire.'

Morgenthau laughed. `I imagine relations between the Germans and the Turks are very good at this time!'

`You're absolutely correct, Sir.' Mr. Phillip rose. `I will call Jemal and the Armenians and then go home...unless you have a need for me.'

`Thanks Phillip. Go home. I hope you realize how grateful I am for your dependability.'

`I do,' Phillip said with a grin and left.

Henry Morgenthau, looking forward to a night's rest without the rocking motion of a boat at sea, had trouble falling asleep. His mind was restless and unsettled about tomorrow's meeting with Jemal Pasha.

Professor Kay Mouradian is a health and physical education specialist
retired from the Los Angeles Community Colleges. Her publications
include Reflective Meditation: a Mind Calming Technique, A Guide for
Those Teaching Yoga in the Community Colleges, and she has also
contributed publications in several magazines and newspapers. Her
first novel, "A Gift In The Sunlight: An Armenian Story", now in its
second edition, was inspired by her mother's remarkable survival of
the Armenian Genocide.
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