"Their object is to strengthen the Moslem and repress the Christian": Henry Jessup and the Presbyterian Mission to Syria under Abdul Hamid II

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2008-08-19

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Henry Jessup and the American Presbyterian Mission to Syria faced a new challenge in 1885 when the Ottoman authorities closed various American schools there. Jessup, the Secretary of the American mission, responded with a rhetorical campaign against the Ottoman impositions that portrayed the policies of Abdul Hamid II's administration as new, pro-Muslim, anti-Christian, and designed to replace American missionary institutions in Syria with Muslim institutions backed by Ottoman force. While some of Jessup's writing while in Syria from 1856 to 1910 was polemical, his writing surrounding the school controversy in the 1880s rather reflected the historical context of local and foreign educational competition in Syria that now included Ottoman initiatives against foreign institutions who presented a threat to Ottoman-Islamic imperial discipline. This thesis seeks to contextualize Jessup's writing to portray 1885 as a watershed in the history of a mission whose evangelistic efforts were then successfully limited by Ottoman reforms.

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