Earlist Scene Photo of
Not proven, but not disproven from lots of tries
Research done to date photo in 1975 in Massachusetts archives
Dick Bolt firstname.lastname@example.org
Page last edited---8-28-2001
Records at Roberts College founded by Cyrus Hamlin & Mr. Roberts
tell of Samuel More going there and bringing two telegraph keys in 1863.
Based on that, its possible Morse took a photograph of the school. It seems
unlikely More would have used the Daguerreotype process camera in that
late period however ! As was the Crimean War, they were well into
the Salt Print or Calotype process period.
The Roberts College archives also have the origional US passport of Cyrus Hamilyn issued in Aug. 13th, 1838.
Based on opening likely in1839 & closing in 1843 this boxes in the Daguerreotype period.
Cyrus Hamlin traced his ancestry to French
Huguenots. His grandfather and his father, Hannibal, together with his
uncles, had distinguished
themselves in the Revolution and hence received farms at Waterford when Maine was still a territory. Hamlin was born on January 5, 1811.
Reminiscent of the description of David Green (Ben Gurion) as a boy, Hamlin was "weakly" and his head was "too big." Shortly after the birth
of Cyrus, his father died leaving his mother to rear four children on a newly-cleared farm. Young Cyrus, destined for the life of a farmer, had
this plan interrupted by the family doctor who observed, "[Cyrus] has not grown for three years, farm work will kill him. Give him an
education." But therewas no money, so that young Cyrus at age sixteen was apprenticed to his brother-in-law to become a silversmith and
jeweler in Portland. A born mechanical genius, Hamlin quickly mastered his trade. After winning an essay contest at the evening school for
apprentices, he was challenged by his pastor to study for the ministry. Cyrus pleaded lack of funds, but his church staked him $1,000, enough
to launch him on a new career with preparation at Bridgeton Academy, Bowdoin College and Bangor Seminary. At Bowdoin he distinguished
himselelf, rising to the head of the class of 1834. Apart from his great religious fervor and dedication, he made a name for himself by
constructing the first steam engine ever assembled in Maine. Thus, already in his college days, Hamlin exhibited a unique combination of
devoutness, physical strength, mechanical genius and all round scholarship which would serve him so well in Istanbul. Soon he was eaming his
expenses as a lecturer on both religious and mechanical themes at the Lyceum. His physical courage also survived many tests: with college
bullies, whom he took to court, and with an Irish riot, which he quelled with his native eloquence. Graduating from Bowdoin College in 1834
and from the Seminary in 1837, he prepared to go to China but was assigned instead to Turkey by the Protestant Board of Commissioners for
Foreign Missions. The U. S. financial crisis of 1837 forced a postponement, but eventually he received his "instructions" on December 2, 1838
and sailed for Smyrna (Izmir) the following day. Hamlin, always a keen observer, noted in passing that Greek shipowners in the "thirties" found
it difficult to obtain marine insurance because so many of their vessels were losf to obtain the insurance money. After a rough passage that kept
his wife bedridden most of the voyage, Hamlin reached Smyrna on January 17, 1839 after a month and a half at sea!
To dispel any idea that missionaries, taking
up posts in major Ottoman cities, suffered discomforts of the sort experienced
in Africa or China,
we should perhaps pause here to note first that the Ottoman Empire, although on the wane during this period, still maintained impressive
resources and cities. The countryside, however, had fallen into decay and neglect, and one might occasionally face real peril from highwaymen,
fanatic holy men or ignorant officials. The account of Smyrna in the 1831's from the pen of John L. Stephens is among the best. Stephens
visited Smyrna and Constantinople (Istanbul) in April and May of 1835, about three and one half years before the Hamlins. Stephens had first
visited Greece, both the classical ruins and the ruins from the recent War of Independence which had been followed closely and sympathetically
Upon reaching the shore of Asia Minor, Stephens
first visited a Turkish bath in Smyrna, "Oh, these Turks are luxurious
dogs. Chibouks (a long
'Dutch style' clay pipe), coffee, hot baths and as many wives as they please." Thereupon he took a stroll on the main street and observed:
Paris on a fete
day does not present so gay and animated a scene... Franks, Jews, Greeks,
Turks, and Armenians, in their various and
striking costumes, were mingled together in agreeable confusion; and making all due allowance for the circumstance that I had long been
debarred the sight of an unveiled woman, I certainly never saw so much beauty.... There is something remarkable in the tenacity with
which the Grecian women have sustained the rights and prerogatives of beauty in defiance of Turkish customs and prejudices....
After the beauty in the streets, Stephens reminds
us of more practical maws: "But I need not attempt to interest you [his
Smyrna,... every Cape Cod sailor knows it better than I do." Noting that Izmir is considered "Infidel" by the Turk, the young traveler calls
attention to the handsome houses occupied by the various foreign consuls and the rich. "... At Smyrna they [the consuls] are far more important
than ambassadors and ministers at the European capitals; and, with their janissaires [sic.: actually at this time gendarmerie and their appearance
on all public occasions in uniform, are looked upon by the Levantines somewhat like the consuls sent abroad under the Roman empire, and by
the Turks as almost sultans."s As was the custom of the day, Stephens delivered letters of introduction to Mr. Offley, the American consul, who
had resided in Smyrna for thirty years. Stephens was quite impressed by the beauty of the Reverend Brewer's wife. "... There is something
exceedingly interesting in a missionary's wife," he writes. "She who had been cherished as a plant that winds must not breathe on too rudely,
recovers from the shock of a separation from her friends to find herself in a land of barbarians... [but] the tender helpless girl changes her very
nature, and becomes the staff and support of the man."
We have also some keen observations of the
business community, "Socity in Smyrna is purely mercantile.... Sometimes
lounging in a merchant's
counting room, I took up an American paper, and heard Boston, and New York, and Baltimore, and cotton, and opium, and freight .." As to
the night life, the local 'aristocracy' took care of their needs at the Casino :
upon his arrival in Smyrna, is introduced at the Casino. I went there the
first time to a concert. It is a large building,
erected by a club of merchants, with a suite of rooms on the lower floor, billiards, cards, reading and sitting room, and a ballroom above
covering the whole ....
But to Stephen's dismay, they... "excluded
the Greek and Smyrniote women, among whom is found a great portion of the
beauty of the place."
Stephens also visited the well-to-do 'Franks' or Europeans in their summer houses located in outlying villages. "The whole region of country
around their villages is beautiful in landscape and scenery, producing the choicest flowers and fruits; the fig-tree particularly growing with a
luxuriance unknown in any other part of the world."
Taking ship for Istanbul on the steamer Maria
Dorothea, Stephens devotes a number of pages in support of the new atmosphere
resulting from the reforming zeal of Sultan Mahmud Il (1808-1839):
A few years since
it would have been at peril of a man's life to appear in many parts of
Turkey in a European dress; but the European is
looked upon, not only as a creature fit to live, but as a man to be respected. The Sultan himself, the great head of the nation and the
religion, the viceregent of God upon earth, has taken off the turban, and all the officers of government have followed his example.
Stephens also makes some rather penetrating
comments about the Sultan's own countrymen; "Time was when the word of
a Turk was as
sacred as a precept of the Koran; now he can no more be relied upon than a Jew or a Christian." This young American traveler attributes the
change in the Turks to the advent of steam navigation, his argument being that until the steamship made its appearance, "the Turks were proud
as peacocks and had... but little opportunity of making comparison, and consequently, again, but little means of discovering their own
Stephens at first did not like Istanbul. Filled
with stories of plague, beggars and filth, he found supporting evidence:
"A lazy, lounging, and filthy
population; beggars baking in the sun and dogs licking their sores: streets never cleaned but by the winds and rains. ... Tombstones at the
corners of the streets...." He talks with his banker, a Mr. Churchill, who later was publicly bastinadoed for accidentally shooting a Turkish boy.
One wonders at Stephens' own ethics when he comments, "... Besides the physical pain, there was a sense of the indignity (of punishment for
the European) that aroused every feeling. (There was no mention of the lad who was shot and whether he survived?) Here we have bubbling
through Stephens' account that tiresome American and European attitude of superiority over the "natives."
On the missionary scene in Istanbul, this was
the era of the William Goodells and the Harrison G.O. Dwights. Dwight and
Eli Smith, dressed as
Turks, had made a daring survey of the Christian communities in the Eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire and Western Persia in 1830.
Goodell had been sent to Istanbul by the Mission Board in 1831, shortly before the U.S.-Ottoman Treaty was ratified. In 1832 the Dwights
had joined the Goodells. It was Dwight who took Stephens out to visit the redoubtable Commodore David Porter, the first American charge-
d'affaires accredited to the Porte after the Commercial Treaty had been signed. Porter had seen action against the French in 1798-1799 and
had later commanded the Enterprise in the Tripoli War. While later serving on the Philadelphia, he was captured and suffered a term of
imprisonment in Tripoli. He had distinguished himself in the War of 1812, once more being captured by the British at Valparaiso, Chile during
the navy's first engagement on the Pacific. From 1815 to 1823 he served on the prestigeous Naval Board in Washington, but thereafter took to
the sea again to fight piracy as Commanderin-Chief of the West Indian Squadron. In 1825, he was court-martialed under controversial
circumstances after he had protected the honor of a junior officer by landing at Fajardo in Puerto Rico and seizing a fortress when the island
was under Spanish rule. Porter, feeling humiliated by his enemies, had resigned from the U.S. Navy in 1826, had commanded the Mexican fleet
for three years and then, under President Jackson, accepted a post as consul general in Algiers until that country was occupied by France.
From there he had been reassigned Istanbul, a post which he took up in 1831 and occupied until his death a 1843.
Porter, who had formerly resided in Buyukdere
on the Bosphorus when the other members of the diplomatic corps resided,
had moved to a
modes dwelling at San Stephens, a village on the Sea of Marmara twelve miles out from the city because of the shabby salary paid him by the
Reverend Dwight had commissioned three stalwart
Turks and a sandal (rowboat) to take Stephens to Porter. Later Stephens
got to know
Porter even better because they met once again in Malta. Porter still spoke with bitterness over the Fajardo affair, but clearly it helped his ego
to have had the support of General (later President) Jackson. Stephens, describing the family-style lunch shared with Porter and Dwight, made
another of the observations which makes his travel account ring so authentically, "I cannot describe the satisfaction of these meetings of
Americans so far from their own country. I have often experienced it most powerfully in the house of the missionaries in the East.... We had all
the same habits and ways of thinking [and) their articles of furniture were [even) familiar to me...."
One final addition to the Istanbul setting,
as sketched by Stephens, seems appropriate. As James A. Field, Jr. has
so aptly emphasized in his
book America and the Mediterranean World 1776-1882, the U.S. Navy and naval interests played a larger role in nineteenth century U.S.
diplomacy than one might ordinarily imagine. After protracted negotiations, the United States in 1830 finally gained from the Turks diplomatic
privileges, most-favored nation concessions and a promise of access to the Black Sea. What the Turks really wanted, in return, and indirectly
received, was U.S. assistance in rebuilding their navy which had been destroyed by an Anglo-French fleet at Navarino Bay on 20 October,
1827. A secret clause of the treaty, promising naval assistance in rebuilding the Ottoman fleet, was struck down by Congress, but President
Jackson proceeded to instruct Porter to render all necessary assistance. Hence Porter was able to gain Turkish ratification of the Treaty. As
Field aptly observed, "A treaty sought for reasons of commerce had been gained for reasons of state, and the disparate interests of figs and
opium, the gospel mission, and the great powers had led to what amounted, in fact if not in form, to an American naval mission to Turkey."
In 1835, Stephens was able to observe, at first
hand, the results of the unwritten agreement. Charles Rhino, the negotiator
of the treaty, had
hoped for the appointment to Turkey as charge d'affaires. Failing in this endeavor because of President Jackson's personal tie with
Commodore Porter, Rhind proceeded to help the Turks by enlisting the aid of his close friend, Henry Eckford, one of the foremost American
ship designers and builders. Eckford had been the genius behind American naval superiority on the Great Lakes in the War of 1812. In 1830,
he had a newly-designed warship for sale. Picking up references from President Jackson, he, together with Rhind, sailed for Turkey in his
twenty-six gun corvette, the United States. The Sultan promptly bought the corvette and appointed Eckford to chief of his naval dockyards in
the Golden Horn. When Eckford died suddenly in November, 1832, his shipwright foreman, Foster Rhodes, took control and completed a
magnificent war vessel designed by Eckford. When Eckford's skills first became known to the Sultan, he was reported by Stephens to have
said, "... America must be a great nation if she could spare from her service such a man."
Stephens had himself rowed up the Golden Horn
where he chatted with Rhodes, who then stood at the head of the naval shipbuilding
establishment of the Turks. Rhodes, a fellow New Yorker, spoke amiably of the excellent qualities of the ship he was completing for the Sultan
while barking orders to his men which were immediately translated by his personal dragoman. At the launching, which Stephens had the good
fortune of observing in the entourage of Porter, Stephens had all his glorious fantasies about the Sultan as 'Shadow of God on Earth' deflated
when the Sultan's barge passed by," ... (the Sultan was seated in the bottom of a large caique, dressed in the military frock coat and red
tarbouch, with his long black beard.... When he landed at the little dock, and his great officers bowed to the dust before him, he looked the
plainest, mildest, kindest man among them." Fighting Turkish jealousy and fearing possible sabotage and also having to worry about the right
confluence of the starts to please the official astronomers, Rhodes was quite worried about the launching, but in the end it went well ... " loud
and long-continued shouts of applause rose with one accord from Turks and Christians, and the Sultan was so transported that he jumped up
and clapped his hands like a school boy." After a subsequent trip to the slave market where a comely Circassian girl of eighteen beckoned
Stephens to purchase her from her master for the equivalent of $250, Stephens took leave of Istanbul for the new Russian city of Odessa.
Apparently after an extended stay, Stephens left the imperial city with a better opinion than he had held upon arrival. Istanbul still works this
sort of magic on her visitors up to the present day.
The city as it would be experienced by the
Hamlins possessed the same charm and the same disabilities that Stephens
described. After ten days
of rest in Izmir, together with the residing missionaries, Temple, Adger and Riggs, the Hamlins took passage on the steamer Stamboul. Hamlin,
not unlike Stephens, comments upon the importance of steam navigation:
were the gates of Constantinople. While northernly winds prevailed no sailing
vessel could pass through, and often
commerce had to wait weeks for wind. Steam made Constantinople a commercial city and brought the civilization, the arts, and the vices
of the West and the East together in the Ottoman capital.
Spending the first inclement days indoors with
the family of 'Father Goodell', Hamlin gives us some insight into the parlor
games of the day, "...
the Goodells, old and young, were longing for a game of blindman's bluff... but they were afraid it would shock our feelings of propriety."
Soon the Hamlins were
welcomed by the Evangelical Union, at the time still a secret organization
of Armenians who had renounced their
Gregorian church to become Protestants. In contrast to the life of a bon vivant led by Stephens, the missionaries faced in 1839 the threat of
expulsion and possible mob violence. In fact, the leading Ottoman member of the new group, John der Sahakian, was soon arrested at the
prompting of the Armenian Patriarch and Hamlin's first daring deed for the mission was to hide Sahakian's correspondence and evangelical
records from the Turkish gendarmerie. Typical of the missionaries everywhere, the Hamlins settled down to studying the local vernaculars, in
this case, Armenian, Greek and French, the languages through which they would preach and hopefully gain converts. It was not long also until
they moved into a 'commodious' house.
In the very unsettled but productive years
between 1840 and 1850, the Istanbul missionaries had to face not only the
suspicions of the Turks
but also the outright hostility of the Armenian, Greek and Catholic religious bodies and the leverage against the Turks of their Euorpean
backers, France, Italy and Russia. The Russians, in particular, saw the danger to their own interests of American missionary activity. But
Hamlin was a newcomer and possessed of great energy and ability. He soon threw all of this trength into starting in 1840 a seminary in Bebek,
a suburb of the city on the Bosphorus. In his words, "I thought the [mission] station too cautious and conservative, but they had experienced the
powers of persecution to break up schools, and I had not."
As the seminary began
to thrive, Hamlin noted, "Bebek Seminary had no small influence in the
introduction of a purer style of speaking and
writing the modern Armenian." -- and thus began the American influence on Armenian nationalism. Apart from being 'textbook to the
students,' Hamlin set up a workshop in the stable, including a lathe, and he began to build most of what he needed to furnish the seminary. Soon
Hamlin lowered his profile by adopting a beard and a fez in place of his stovepipe had and clean shaven face.
The future founder of
Robert College included a number of fundamental observations in his memoir.
As many of the Armenians were members
of the craft guilds, they petitioned the Armenian patriarch (Catholicos) for lay representation on the ecclesiastical council. Clearly laymen on the
Councils could have helped ease the pressure of the Armenian Church on the missionaries. Conversely, Russia often put pressure on the
sarrafs (money changers an bankers), many of whom were Armenian, so that they would, in turn exert pressure on the Armenian patriarch and
the Turkish government to eliminate the American 'heretics.' But clearly the Turks favored missionaries with shipbuilding compatriots!
In 1843 an Armenian by
the name of Hovakian, who had earlier become a convert to Islam, apostasized
and was thus, according to custom,
beheaded. Stratford de Redcliffe, the powerful British Ambassador, made a major issue of this outrage. He proved that no passage in the
Quran supported this barbarity and forced the Sultan to swear that death for apostasy would henceforth be outlawed in the empire. This
incident elicited Hamlin's harshest criticism of Islam: 'Death for apostasy is inherent in the faith. Polygamy, concubinage, slavery, divorce, death
penalty -- all go together in the social and civil life of Islam.' A Muslim might well agree to this criticism but would be quick to point out the
existence of these social abuses in the hypocritical West!
Hamlin was always a tenacious adversary even
as his Bowdoin classmates had earlier learned. When attacked in local pamphlets
by the Jesuits,
Hamlin produced in Armenian a powerful rebuttal of Roman Catholicism entitled Papists and Protestants. Even hardline Armenians
of Gregorian persuasion thanked the mission for its help in checking the Jesuits who also were making converts among the Armenians. During
the forties, Hamlin also expended much energy producing translations of American school texts for the Armenian mission schools. In particular
Hamlin's adaptation into Armeno-Turkish (Turkish in Armenian script) of a mathematics book attracted the attention of the Minister of Public
Instruction, Ahmed Vefik Pasha, a distinguished Ottoman statesman and scholar, who had it rendered into the Turkish script and distributed in
the Turkish schools.
Cyrus Hamlin represents the missionaries of
a transitional type. By introducing industrial arts into the curriculum
of his seminary, against the
wishes of many of his mission colleagues, he enabled the new converts to survive. In 1846, the Armenian patriarch declared an anathema
against all Protestant Armenians and those who aided them. Hamlin, taking advice from a group of English engineers who the Sultan had hired
to set up a governmental woolen mill, printing works and machine shop in Makrikoy, enlarged his own workshop so that his students could
earn enough money to pay their fees. With this modest beginning, the students were able to make clothing, stoves and rat traps which were
bought by the general public.
But clearly Hamlin required a much larger employment
enterprise if he were to break the boycott against Protestant Armenian
Crimean War (1853-56) provided the opportunity. Just prior to the war, Hamlin had discovered that each millet (religious community) had
been accorded the right, by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Istanbul, to mill its own flour and bake its own bread. Thanks to the
intervention of Stratford de Redcliffe, the British Ambassador, the Sultan had officially recognized the Protestant Millet in 1850. Leaving aside
for a moment the implications for American missionaries of accepting British imperial support for their activities, Hamlin now had the legal
support he required to overcome the opposition of the Istanbul millers' and bakers' guilds. Next Hamlin imported the parts necessary to
assemble a steam engine for power to turn the millstones. With yeast from the German brewery and an abundance of grain from many parts of
the Empire, Hamlin now launched his bakery. Owing to the high quality of the product, the enterprise grew rapidly and thus a number of
unemployed Protestant Armenians immediately found work. Upon the outbreak of the war, Hamlin and his crew often supplied as much as
6,000 pounds of bread per day to the Selimiye barracks which was converted into a military hospital and eventually came under the able
administration of Florence Nightingale. With the profits, the mission was able to build a number of new churches. During the war also, a number
of seminarians served as interpreters on the front, and two other ancillary businesses, coffee grinding and a laundry for the hospital, were also
generated by Hamlin. Needless to mention, the boycott of the converts was effectively broken.
Hamlin had exhausted himself with these activities
and in 1855 took home leave giving a number of lectures in the United States
Taking stock of the mission accomplishments, Hamlin listed four major ones:
furthering of religious freedom and the founding of 35 churches;
2- reform or transformation of education in the East;
3- the successful use of the press for Biblical and educational tracts;
4- the fostering of a number of sound industries which helped support the new flock.
One might also add that Hamlin had demonstrated
the importance of responsible leadership and entrepreneurial activity to
his charges, in short,
After a number of years meditating about the
significance of the Crimean War, Hamlin came to the conclusion that Louis
Napoleon and the
French government had made it impossible for Britain to cripple Russia permanently, a cause Hamlin obviously felt worthwhile. He believed,
however, that certain positive values prevailed in the Ottoman Empire following the announcement of the Hatt-i Humayun or imperial decree of
reform of 1856. It marked the beginning of religious and civil liberty in Turkey and the end of serfdom in European Turkey; and it reduced the
power of the Christian religious hierarchies, weakened the guilds and checked Russia; in other words, the War reduced the power of Hamlin's
adversaries in the faith! Hamlin greatly regretted the removal of Stratford de Redcliffe and his replacement by Henry Bulwer, whom Hamlin
considered immoral. Hamlin's animosity stemmed from the fee (bribe) of $50,000 allegedly paid to Bulwer by Khedive Ismail (1863-75) of
Egypt. 'Ali Pasha, the Grand Vezir, agreed to settle the dispute if Sir Henry dropped British meddling in Bulgaria, Serbia, and the American
College problem. It is during this period of intense negotiations in the 1860's for the right to build Robert College that 'Ali Pasha is supposed to
have remarked, "Will this Mr. Hamlin never die and let me alone on the college question?"
On leave, Hamlin had met in Paris, Christopher
Rhinelander Robert, a wealthy American businessman- philanthropist, but
no mention of the
college surfaced at the time. Robert had made a fortune chiefly in the importation of sugar, cotton and tea. A religious man, he had served the
American Home Missionary Society. James and Wiliam Dwight, sons of the Istanbul missionary, H.G.O. Dwight, had suggested the idea to
Robert of founding an American-style college in Istanbul. Robert subsequently visited the Bebek Seminary of Hamlin in 1856, presumably
while Hamlin was on leave.
Meanwhile the American Board under the leadership
of Rufus Anderson had taken two steps which alienated Hamlin. It was decided
Seminary would be moved to Merzifon. Secondly, only vernacular instruction would henceforth be given and the strong emphasis Hamlin had
placed on industrial arts would be phased out. It is thus not surprising that Hamlin enthusiastically welcomed Robert's proposal about founding
a secular college with instruction in English.
The confluence of several events made the college,
named after Robert, its first benefactor, a success: a) Robert's 'seed'
money; b) the skill and
experience of Hamlin; c) the rivalry between the learned Ahmed Vefik Pasha and 'Ali Pasha, the Grand Vezir; d) the support of the British,
particularly of Lord Ashley, seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, noted for his support of British social reform and his presidency of the British and
Foreign Bible Society (Shaftesbury was also the stepson-in-law of Palmerston), and finally, e) a boost from the U.S. Navy. Hamlin resigned
from the mission in 1860 and put all his efforts into getting the college started in spite of the approaching Civil War in the United States.
Robert's initial donation became much depreciated in the international market thus Hamlin sought funds in Britain with the aid of Shaftesbury.
Much to Hamlin's surprise, given British feelings about slavery, the British generally supported the South against the Union, as one gentleman
stated, "... We think the great republic is too big already! Let it be separated into two republics. They will watch each other and Europe will
feel greatly relieved!" In the United States, from 1860 to 1861, Hamlin received little aid from the American 'can Board and Congregational
churches in his money-raising efforts. Harvard College liege, however, helped and with the aid of British contributions, Hamlin open the college
in 1863 on the site of the former seminary; hence he needed no new school permit application for which his cultural enemies would have
blocked. Meanwhile he had bought an ideal site for the college from Ahmed Vefik Pasha on the heights above Bebek. The Pasha had
quarreled with the Grand Vezir, 'Ali Pasha, over embassy allowances while serving as Turkish ambassador in France. Both to spite 'Ali Pasha
and to pay off his debts, he sold a choice site to Hamlin. Immediately Abbe Bore, head of the Jesuit mission, the Catholic embassies and
Imperial Russia opposed an application for a building permit.
Midhat Pasha, a well-known liberal, served
as Grand Vezir for a short time in late 1867 and early 1868 and viewed
with favor the American
project, but Hamlin somehow had first to overcome the opposition of the powerful Ottoman bureaucracy. Fortunately for Robert College,
Admiral David Farragut, America's first full admiral and the hero of a number of engagements during the Civil War, had assumed command of
the United States squadron in Europe and as a part of his tour of duty, he made a courtesy call ('showed the flag') in Istanbul. Farragut was no
stranger to the Mediterranean. His father, a Spaniard from Minorca, had joined the United States navy as a young man when the
Mediterranean squadron still wintered at Port Mahon. Upon his father's early death, Farragut had been adopted by Commodore Porter. As a
young officer of 20 years old, he had served as attache in Tunis and had learned a great deal of Arabic and French. In his visit to Istanbul on
the Franklin in August of 1868, he was given special permission to pass the Dardanelles and was received by both Sultan 'Abd ul-'Aziz and
Khedive Ismail who was then visiting his overlord. Hamlin explained to the Admiral the plight of the building permit for the college and the
Admiral discretely raised the question with his military counterparts in the Turkish armed United forces. Meanwhile, possibly unknown to
Hamlin, there had been rumors that the United States was seeking a new Mediterranean naval base and many felt that this subject was the
Admiral's 'secret' mission. The visit corresponded with a bitter revolt against Turkish rule on the island of Crete, and the Turks naturally feared
that the United States might declare a protectorate over Crete and set up a naval base there. Choosing the lesser of two evils, 'Ali Pasha
suddenly gained the Sultan's irade or imperial decree giving permission for Robert College to build on the site proposed.
Thus, Hamlin, by means of a quite devious and
unpremeditated event, had overcome the greatest obstacle to providing a
proper setting for his
college. He personally supervised the construction of the first building fashioned out of stone quarried right on the college grounds. The new
qualm were ready for occupancy in the spring of 1871 and Secretary Seward, recently retired from the State Department, gave the official
opening address on July 4, 1872. The Muslims and native Christians at first viewed the college with suspicion as another missionary school in
Istanbul, hence Hamlin recruited a number of students from the Balkans during the early years of the school's existence. Indeed Hamlin
continued to emphasize Biblical moral training, liberal arts and also industrial arts, which can be considered the origin of the later famous Robert
College School of Engineering. But Hamlin's days as College head were numbered. He fell out with his benefactor, Robert, and the school in
1877 passed under the control of his son-in-law, George Washburn, a man more in tune with the times, who built up a liberal arts curriculum on
the New England college model and staffed the college with young Americans. Thus the College in 1877 began to adopt the liberal arts format
which has made the college one of the finest contributors to Turkey, the Middle East and the Balkans of the American Enlightenment and liberal