The unique document/artifact found in Plovdiv (Bulgaria) – a micro-copy of the American Constitution engraved on a metal (aluminum) plate, which dates back to the era of the First Constitutional Period in the Ottoman Empire, about which you will find more detailed information below:
In 1865, the movement of progressive Turkish intellectuals “Yeni Osmanlar” /Young Ottomans/, later called “Young Turks”, was founded, whose ideas were later developed and implemented by Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey. In Paris, the core of the movement was supported by the wealthy emigrant and former minister Mustafa Fazli Pasha. Among its members are Ibrahim Shinazi, Namak Kemal (1840-1888), Zia Pasha (1829-1880) – the founders of modern Turkish literature. In Paris, Shinazi collaborated with Lamartine. In 1860, on October 22, he and Agia Effendi published the first private newspaper, Terjumani Ahval, and later in 1862, Tasfiri Esphar. Only in Istanbul between 1867 and 1878. The periodicals numbered 113. The newspapers explained concepts and new technical terms such as a constitution, a constitutional monarchy, a parliament, or even a republic. The republican idea is not alien to them. Namik Kemal’s close friend Mustafa Rashid wrote: “N. Kemal Kemal was not only against tyrannical power, but an enemy of the sultan, of monarchism. Members of the movement needed information from France and the United States on the latest developments in democracy in theoretical and practical-political terms – censorship in the Turkish Empire has intensified after the translation and publication in Turkey of the Communist Manifesto and the Declaration of Human Rights ”. Imperial censorship, especially the censors of the “red” (bloody) Sultan Abdul-Hamid II, even banned the publication of the chemical formula of water (H2O), as someone could read on it so much “Hamid II is a zero”. The opposition is forced to be very careful and work in secret. It is normal to be a Young Turk, a Freemason and a follower of Sufism for the period described. The Bektashi considered Freemasonry a secret society of initiates, similar to theirs (both persecuted by the sultan’s rule) and established close ties, especially between the Melami Order and the Young Turk Freemasons in the Balkans. Regiment Sadak Bay (1908, Monastir) reports that a large number of its officers in Macedonia are members of this dervish order. Also the founder of the Ottoman Society for Freedom in Thessaloniki (1906) Bursali Tahir is dedicated to the Order of Sufis Melami. The first lodge in Turkey was founded in 1721. Mahmud I in 1748 banned Freemasonry. In 1826, Mahmud II banned the Bektashi order and disbanded the janissary corps. In 1839, the Grand Vizier Mustafa Rashid Pasha carried out reforms and restored Freemasonry. The founder and first sovereign commander of the Scottish ritual in Turkey (1864) was Prince Abdulhalim Pasha, brother of the governor of Egypt and uncle of the successor governor Ismail Pasha. In 1869, the Supreme Soviet of Turkey was recognized by the American jurisdiction of the South. Turkish historian Abdul Kadim Zalum believes that Masons were Ali Pasha, Fuat Pasha, Midhat Pasha and Talaat Pasha.
Valuable American diplomatic documents can be found in the correspondence with the Congress, concerning the Masonic intervention in the coup d’etat in the Ottoman capital of 1876 (cf. No. 305 / 30.05.1876, – In: Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, transmitted to Congress with Annual Message of the President. December 4, 1876, Washington, 1876, pp. 568-569; No. 307 / 17.06.1876, – In: ibid., pp. 572-573; No. 310 / 10.08 .1876, – In: ibid., Pp. 578-582, No. 311 / 01.09.1876, – In: ibid., Pp. 583-584, No. 312 / 13.09.1876, – In: ibid., Pp. 584-586). In 1876, Midhat Pasha, with the help of the Liberal reformist Young Turkey, succeeded in removing Abdul-Aziz from the throne, and a few days later the sultan committed suicide. His nephew Murad V ascended the throne, and liberal journalists Zia Pasha and Namik Kemal became private secretaries of the new sultan.
In 1861, a Protestant line in Constantinople attempted direct intervention in the church struggles of the Bulgarian people (for the attitude of Protestants to the church struggle in addition to the notes in the Missionary Herald; for Long’s opinion, see Constantinople, XIII, 36). September 1, 1862, and the special studio of J. Clark), about which Manyo Stoyanov gives us important information. Just when the situation of the Bulgarians was most difficult, the bishop leaders were sent into exile, the Uniate movement, supported by the Turkish government, was advancing, and Russian representatives supported the Greek Patriarchate, the branch of the Evangelical Alliance sent an delegation to Constantinople. (the delegation consisted of Dr. Yul. Menlingen, Sultan’s doctor, Armenian Protestant pastor H. Sahadjian and Dr. El. Riggs), which met with Bulgarian leaders Todor Burmov, Nikola P. Tapchileshtov and Dr. Zah. Strumski and offered them to turn for help to the union, which in turn would insist on the governments of the Protestant states in Constantinople, in the first place before the British, to intercede before the High Gate to settle the Bulgarian-Greek dispute.
For the Bulgarians at that time, help, wherever it came from, was expensive “, as Burmov writes, and therefore the three Bulgarian leaders submitted a petition to the Evangelical Union, signed by 33 Bulgarians and two bishops, in which they set out their demands in the struggle and prayed for support. Based on this request, the Constantinople branch of the union wrote to the President in London K. Erdlis, who spoke on the issue with the British Foreign Secretary John Russell and the Turkish representative in London Musuris, and wrote to the English representative in Constantinople H. Bulver. Diplomatic representatives and other Protestant countries in Constantinople (the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden) were also mentioned, who took an interest in the issue and some of them spoke to Ali Nasha, but nothing followed. The English representative Bulver expressed his sympathy for the Bulgarian people to the Bulgarian representatives, but stated that he was uncomfortable interfering in Turkey’s domestic policy. His colleagues – representatives of other Protestant countries – showed solidarity with him. Bulver and other diplomats may have realized that the missionaries’ hopes were in vain, especially after the collapse of the union. For example, Dr. St. Chomakov, who was in Constantinople at the time, suggested that the Bulgarian church be organized as Protestant only on two principles: 1) the Bible as the only rule of faith and morals and 2) complete separation. of the church by the state. Moreover, according to Clark’s study, a few days before Ilarion Makariopolski was sent into exile, Riggs had entered into written negotiations with him to form a union with the Protestants because he had been told that Hilarion in order to escape exile was ready to enter into a union with any church. To Riggs Hilarion’s proposal to sign a declaration that the Bulgarians agreed to accept the Bible together with the evangelical churches as the only obligatory rule for the faith and the church system, Hilarion replied (…): the new testament together with the rites and customs that have existed in our Bulgarian church since ancient times.” Clark claims this on the basis of Riggs’s diary, which we have not seen, and since there are no Bulgarian and other foreign sources, we can neither dispute nor confirm what he said). Plovdiv was the second target point of the Sobor missionaries in European Turkey. As a city and the center of a rich area with a vigilant Bulgarian population, according to the plans of the missionaries, it was to become a center of Protestantism in southern Bulgaria.
In the spring of 1859, American congressional missionaries William Meriam and James Clark arrived in the city. Their first job was to learn the local languages - Clark started studying Bulgarian language and Meriam – Turkish language; he also intended to work among the Turks. One of the brightest phenomena of the Bulgarian Revival is the construction of a network of schools covering all lands inhabited by the Bulgarian nation. Protestants are vigorously involved in this process and raise the level of education, setting a model for Bulgarian schools to strive for and to gain experience from. The first Protestant school was opened by them in Plovdiv in 1860. Remarkably, this educational institution appeared three years before one of the most prestigious schools of the time – the Robert College in Constantinople, founded by Christopher Robert, an American industrialist and Cyrus Hamlin – American professor, theologian and missionary -in 1863 in Constantinople. The Protestant schools in Shumen (1862), Stara Zagora (1863), Bansko (1867), Samokov (1869), Ruse (1873), Troyan (1880) were not late either.
The contribution of American colleges, churches, schools and missions in teaching their graduates in particular, and enslaved Ottoman subjects in general, the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, especially among the Bulgarian people, is indisputable.
At the moment, a huge bibliography on the subject has been collected from several years of personal research, as well as a detailed analysis of the Young Turks with the Masonic lodges in Paris and Geneva, based on Ottoman archives in Istanbul’s university and palace libraries. cantonal and university libraries in Switzerland. It can be said that there is information about parallel Masonic archival units with correspondence written on metal plates and reliable information about the use of microscopy in Masonic circles in the 19th century, to shed light on the large-scale periodicals of Ottoman immigration in Geneva, contacts between Geneva Freemasonry and Bulgaria (then part of the Ottoman Empire) in the State Archives of Geneva and in the Musée Maçonnique Union-et-Travail de Genève, the toolkit for the technical production (as well as their subsequent reading) of similar unique tablets in the Patek Philippe Museum – Genève.
For completing the research on that artifact finding a scientific or an institutional academic, public or private support and assistance, are still needed and systematically sought, opinions and possible interest in working together on this project for scientific processing and conservation of the artifact with the exclusive “edition” of the American Constitution text.