President Cleveland Appoints Nageeb Arbeely to Replace Anti-Semitic Selah Merrill as Consul at Jerusalem

October 15, 1885

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President Cleveland Appoints Nageeb Arbeely to Replace Anti-Semitic Selah Merrill as Consul at Jerusalem
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1 page | SMC 1595

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      This document causes the United States Consul at Jerusalem, the Congregationalist minister biblical-archeologist, anti-Semitic Selah Merrill, to be replaced by the Greek-ancestry Syrian-born naturalized-American Najeeb J. Arbeely. The reason was simple: politics. Merrill was a Republican appointed by President Harrison; Arbeely was a Democrat appointed by President Cleveland. But within a year, politics of another sort would see the popular new consul recalled. Despite his being deemed by the American colony as a blessing, Arbeely was unacceptable to the Ottoman government. Whether this was, as Jerusalem dragoman Rollo Floyd claimed, “because he was a friend of mine and a gentleman, Merrill… bribed the Turks not to give him affirmation,” or because, as the Turks insisted, Arbeely was a native of the Ottoman Empire, he was recalled, and replaced by the exceptionally pro-Jewish Henry Gillman. Cleveland lost, however, in ’88, and Harrison then re-appointed Merrill. Unlike Arbeely and Gillman, Selah Merrill was not a particularly welcome figure in the Holy Land. His relations with the American Colony were terrible; the British Palestine Exploration Fund thought him a dreadful and incompetent archaeologist; and as he opposed Jewish immigration and settlement in Palestine, he was hardly popular with the Yishuv. Merrill’s replacement by Arbeely was generally thought a great improvement, and Arbeely’s replacement by Gillman, greater still.
      Document Signed, as President, partially-printed and accomplished in manuscript; 1 page, oblong folio, Washington, October 15, 1885. Co-signed by Secretary of State Thomas F. Bayard.
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      To all who shall see these presents, Greeting:

      Know ye, That reposing special trust and confidence in the abilities and integrity of Nageeb J. Arbeely of Tennessee,
      and by the virtue of the authority conferred upon the President by Section 1768 of the Revised Statutes of the
      United States, I do hereby
      SUSPEND Selah Merrill from the office of Consul of the United States of America,
      at Jerusalem, and such other parts as shall be nearer thereto
      than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States within the same allegiance;
      and I hereby designate the said Nageeb J. Arbeely, he being a suitable person therefor, to perform
      the duties of such suspended officer; and do authorize and empower him to exercise and enjoy all the rights, 
      pre-eminences, privileges, and authorities to the said office appertaining, until the end of the next session of the
      Senate, subject to the conditions prescribed by law; he demanding and receiving no fees or perquisites of office 
      whatever which shall not be expressly established by some Law of the United States. And I do hereby
      enjoin all Captains, Masters, and Commanders of Ships and other vessels, armed or unarmed, sailing
      under the Flag of the said States, as well as all other of their citizens, to acknowledge and consider him, the
      said Nageeb J. Arbeely, accordingly.

      And I do hereby pray and request His Imperial Majesty the Sultan of Turkey, His Governors and
      Officers to permit the said Nageeb J. Arbeely fully and peaceably to enjoy and exercise the said office,
      without giving, or suffering to be given unto him any molestation or trouble; but, on the contrary,  to afford
      him all proper countenance and assistance; I offering to do the same for all those who shall in like manner
      be recommended to me by His said Imperial Majesty.

      In testimony whereof I have caused these letters to be made patent and the Seal of the United
      States to be hereunto affixed.

      Given under my hand, at the City of Washington, the Fifteenth day of October, and in the year of our
      Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty-five, and of the Independence of the United States of America
      the one hundred and tenth.

      By the President:                     GROVER CLEVELAND

      T. F. BAYARD
      Secretary of State.

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      15 Octr 1885
      Commission of
      N. G. [sic] Arbeely