The Reverend Ralph Harlow on the Lausanne Treaty
Chapter 32
By George Horton

Danish translation: Pastor Ralph Harlow om Lusanne-traktaten
Source: Preservation of American Hellenic History (PAHH)
Published on : November 21, 2013

Chapter from George Horton's online book: The Blight of Asia
Danish: Asiens svøbe

In proof of the statement that many eminent followers of Christ are not in entire sympathy with certain missionaries in their policy with regard to the Turks, I am quoting again from the Reverend Ralph Harlow. The following extracts are from an article and two letters written by him. The article appeared in the Outlook of October 25, 1922, and in it, among other things, the author describes an interview with the late Theodore Roosevelt:

At that time, I had just returned from Asia Minor where I had witnessed the fearful deportations on the Bagdad Railroad, and could give him first-hand information of the awful atrocities going on. He asked me a number of questions, continually shaking his head and saying, "terrible, terrible, terrible".
Then with a tense expression on his face, he said, "Mr. Harlow, the greatest regret that I have as I look back on my administration is the fact that when the awful Adana massacre occurred, this government did not take steps against the outrage on civilization!"

A further quotation from the same article indicates that the men on destroyers did not fully share the pro-Turk sentiments of their officers:

I have just listened to the contents of a letter sent by one of our boys on an American destroyer at Smyrna. He tells of having to stand by while the brutal Turkish soldiers seized beautiful Christian girls and tore them screaming from their mothers and outraged them right on the public quay of Smyrna. He saw these brutal soldiers shooting down helpless women with children in their arms, unarmed men beaten to death by the butts of these Turkish soldiery. And then he tells of the anguish that he felt because the orders of our government were such that he had to stand by, helpless, before such atrocities.

I have been told that many such letters were written by our navy boys at Smyrna to relatives and friends in the United States. In a letter to me, Mr. Harlow says that he believes it to be his duty to tell the truth about affairs in the Near East, and he continues:

Doctor MacLachlan and Reed demanded my resignation and said that I endangered the college. I resigned. I have been made to feel that I ought to keep still, but justice seems to me greater than buildings and institutions. At the time of the Lausanne Conference and after, I claimed that our American Board (of Foreign Missions) ought to have stood four square against the wretched treaty. Dr. Barton did not like the openness of my criticisms and I lost a position as Board Secretary through his opposition to me.

The second letter referred to gives Mr. Harlow's opinion of the Lausanne Treaty and is addressed to the Reverend Doctor Barton, Foreign Secretary of the American Board of Foreign Missions. As some of the missionaries who are desirous of saving the remnants of their installations in Turkey have come out in favor of the treaty, Mr. Harlow's opinion on the subject, and his reasons, may be of interest:

At the time of the conference, and following it, I was asked to discuss the situation in numerous addresses, so that I read up carefully everything I could get, which would throw light on the subject. All the evidence goes to show that the men who went to Lausanne were influenced from the very first in all their decisions to protect the oil interests, which featured largely behind the scenes in the Conference discussions. That those interests were so strong as to overshadow the humanitarian and missionary interests I have accepted without question, until I read your paragraph.
I turn now to some of my sources of information, for which you ask. Unfortunately, most of my material on this subject is in my files at Northampton, but I have with me references, which will perhaps indicate why I have associated oil with blood in connection with Lausanne. I would refer you to the following articles and I might name numerous others: "American Blood and Oil", Literary Digest, December 30, 1922; "Oil and Glory at Lausanne", Literary Digest, July 28, 1923; "Blind Forces at Lausanne", Asia, April, 1923; "Britain's Mesopotamian Burden and Oil", Literary Digest, December 15, 1922; "Issues at Lausanne", Living Age, January 6, 1923; "Lausanne and its Antecedents", Fort-nightly Review, January, 1923; "Uncle Sam Mixing in the Turkish Broil", Literary Digest, December 23, 1922; "The Tragedy of Lausanne", Association Men, March or April, 1923; "The World Race for Oil", Literary Digest, January 20, 1923.
If you will take the time and trouble, as I have, to read even these few articles, and the Literary Digest quotes from many other sources, you will find that the main theme is that the humanitarian interests at Lausanne were sold out, because of oil interests, and that the missionary interests got nowhere.
A regular official of the Standard Oil came to Lausanne before the Conference opened. Lewis Heck, who was in the business in Constantinople came to Lausanne as a member of the American delegation. [Lewis Heck had been closely associated with the Chester interests, and Admiral Chester's son was also at Lausanne. — R. H.]
Young MacDowell, who had many railroad concessions in Turkey which dovetailed into the Chester concessions, was in Beck's Constantinople office. Heck knows Turkey well. I will be willing to defend the thesis that the entire course of events, which made the Lausanne Treaty possible, was determined by the ambitions of the commercial oil interests, and that, in this race for Turkish favors, the Americans led the way.

Mr. Harlow quotes many editorials and articles in the American and British press, the general tenor of which can be gleaned from one or two examples:

"Lausanne was all that an International Conference ought not to be. It was the sacrifice of all human and humanitarian questions to expediency." - New York Journal of Commerce, July, 1923.
"Mosul and [the] freedom to give us a chance in the scramble for oil has been the object of all the negotiations, but the United States might be better occupied to-day than looking after the interests of oil kings. Peace and civilization may be talked about in public, but in private there is talk of oil, because territories where the future concessionaires will be at pains to insure their rights, are at stake." - New York Times.
"Although America would accept no humane responsibility in the Near East, saying that it must be free from troubles and depravities of the Old World, America's blood boils over the burning question of oil. When the word 'oil' is mentioned, the recluse bursts from its retirement upon the instant. America has no concern with Asia Minor while the Turk butchers his Christian subjects by the hundreds of thousands." - Pall Mall Gazette.

What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.


Table of Contents

  1. Turkish Massacres, 1822-1909
  2. Gladstone and the Bulgarian Atrocities
  3. First Steps In Young Turks' Program (1908-1911)
  4. The Last Great Selamlik (1911)
  5. Persecution of Christians in Smyrna District (1911-1914)
  6. The Massacre of Phocea (1914)
  7. New Light on the Armenian Massacres (1914-1915)
  8. Story of Walter M. Geddes
  9. Information from Other Sources
  10. The Greek Landing at Smyrna (May, 1919)
  11. The Hellenic Administration in Smyrna (May 15, 1919 - September 9, 1922)
  12. The Greek Retreat (1922)
  13. Smyrna As It Was
  14. The Destruction Of Smyrna (September, 1922)
  15. First Disquieting Rumors
  16. The Turks Arrive
  17. Where and When the Fires Were Lighted
  18. The Arrival at Athens
  19. Added Details Learned After The Tragedy
  20. Historic Importance Of The Destruction Of Smyrna
  21. Number Done To Death
  22. Efficiency of Our Navy in Saving Lives
  23. Responsibility of the Western World
  24. Italy's Designs On Smyrna
  25. France and the Khemalists
  26. Massacre of the French Garrison at Urfa
  27. The British Contribution
  28. Turkish Interpretation Of America's Attitude
  29. The Making of Mustapha Khemal
  30. Our Missionary Institutions In Turkey
  31. American Institutions Under Turkish Rule
  32. The Reverend Ralph Harlow on the Lausanne Treaty
  33. Mohammedanism and Christianity
  34. The Koran And The Bible
  35. The Example Of Mohammed
  36. The 50-50 Theory
  37. Asia Minor, The Graveyard Of Greek Cities
  38. Echoes From Smyrna
  39. Conclusion

George Horton

George Horton (1859–1942) was a member of the US diplomatic corps who held several consular offices, in Greece and the Ottoman Empire, in late 19th century and early 20th century. Horton initially arrived in Greece in 1893 and left from Greece 30 years later in 1924. During two different periods he was the US Consul and US Consul general to Smyrna, known as Izmir today, the first time between 1911-1917 (till the cessation of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Ottoman Empire during the First World War) and the second time between 1919–1922, during Greek administration of the city in the course of the Greco-Turkish War. The Greek administration of Smyrna was appointed by the Allied Powers following Turkey's defeat in World War I and the seizure of Smyrna. (Source: Wikipedia)