An Ottoman Gift to America
By M. Ugur Derman
Translated By Mohamed Zakariya
In June of 1959, I saw the exhibition “150 Years of Turkish-American Friendship” at the American Information Center on Istiklal Street in Istanbul’s Beyoglu District. What drew my attention most was a photo of an Ottoman inscription inside the Washington Monument in Washington, DC. I read the poem that was shown inscribed in stone. At that time, my mentor, Dr. Süheyl Ünver (1898–1986), was in the United States. With excitement, I wrote to him, asking that he go see it. He answered my letter from New York, writing that although he had been in the vicinity of the monument, the wait to enter the monument had been too long because of the huge crowds. Essentially, because he had no proof that such an inscription existed, he explained that he could not justify a return to Washington to search for it.
Finally, about forty years later, on September 15, 1998, I was able to see the inscription up close. I was able to climb a ladder to exactly its level, touch it with my hands, and take some photographs of it. How did this Ottoman inscription, the like of which has not been encountered in any other country, come into being and find its way to such an honorable spot in the Washington Monument? It will be easier to explain this, I think, with a few preliminary facts.
From the time the United States gained its independence in 1776, the Ottoman state was interested in establishing trade relations with the new country. The first such treaty was concluded in 1830, during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808–1839). As a result of this treaty, the warship Nusratiye was built with the help of two American naval officers who were sent to Istanbul to supervise the project. It was launched in 1835.
Close relations between the two countries were further strengthened during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid (r. 1839–1861). As a result of the rebellion that broke out in 1848 in France, the Hungarians rebelled against the Austrian Empire, and the Poles rose in rebellion against the Russians; both rebellions were eventually stifled. As the Austrian Empire and Russia began to extirpate the rebellion forces, they were soon pushing against the Ottoman borders. Our country Turkey was not intimidated by the ...
Read and/or download the article from http://www.zaytuna.org/seasonsjournal/seasons4/112-116%20Ottoman%20Gift.pdf -