Abraham Lincoln Appoints Edward Joy Morris Minister to the Ottoman Empire - and By Extension, Palestine

Document Signed
1 page
SMC 1099

Lincoln was barely in office two months and the Civil War, barely on two weeks, when replacing the ambassador to the far-off Ottoman Empire became an especially urgent matter. The incumbent minister, left over from Buchanan's administration, was, after all, a Southerner - and busily engaged in urging the Porte to back the South. Secretary of War Simon Cameron - whose fiercest battles would seem to have been for patronage - recommended, then, that Pennsylvania Representative Edward Joy Morris be Minister Resident to Constantinople, and Lincoln, no doubt glad to have at least one peaceful outcome, agreed. Morris was not, as these things went, an entirely bad choice. He had, most unusually, traveled throughout the Levant, and written about it. When there, in fact, some twenty years before, he had to his credit seen the need for an American Consul in Jerusalem, and it was at his urging one was appointed; that the one appointed, also at his urging, was the religious controversialist Warder Cresson, was perhaps a less laudable call. Nonetheless, as Minister-Resident to Turkey, Morris served well - and long: representing, over a course of nine years, Presidents Lincoln, Johnson and Grant.

Morris' ambassadorial activities extended all the way to the Holy Land and, most especially, to the American missionaries who went there. But whereas in his 1842 book, Notes of a Tour through Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Arabia Petraa to the Holy Land, the missionaries were extolled as bold humanitarians whose devoted work brought honor to the name of their country in the farthest corners of the earth - when he was Minister, and the evangelists were the Adams Colony, they were pitiable ignorant wretches who, literally, needed saving, that they might not starve to death and "shame and disgrace... the American name." Indeed, of those poor souls who journeyed to Jaffa in order to hasten the Second Coming (by aiding the prerequisite restoration of the Jews to Palestine), he wondered that they should have left their own promising country for a "misgoverned, impoverished and semi-savage land, where no man's life is safe beyond the walls of the towns." The Holy Land missionaries of the 1860's served best as an admonitory lesson, he ultimately warned in a letter to the New York Times, to all who were disposed to undertake similar quests.

Document Signed, as President, partially-printed and accomplished in manuscript, 1 page, oblong folio, Washington, D.C., July 15, 1861; being the appointment of  Edward Joy Morris as Minister-Resident at Constantinople. Co-signed by Secretary of State William H. Seward.

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