National Geographic : 1912 Jan
THE YOUNG TURK and child, lest an indiscreet word should bring death from the edict of the despot whose bloody sword was ever suspended over his trembling subjects. No member of this committee was ever permitted to know more than four others. Five was the maximum num ber allowed to meet together in a single group; but the secret chain leading up to the central figure or group, which was all supreme, was so carefully concealed that no one to this day has been able to dis cover the ultimate source of that won derful power. No one who has not been an eye witness to the effect of both the old and new regimes in Turkey upon its people can realize, the change that now took place. RETURN OF THE EXILES The announcement that constitutional government had been granted to Turkey soon spread to all parts of the world; aged exiles and those who had fled from the dread machinations of Abdul Hamid returned and filled the capital to its ut most capacity; and as they were all mem bers of the Young Turk party, the power that this remarkable secret organization wielded over the people became the prime factor in the administration of the gov ernment. The people of the nation, who were at first stunned by the suddenness of the change, began to shout the new word "liberty," which had just entered their vocabulary, with all the changes that could be played upon it, and in every quarter of the Empire celebrations took place, the inhabitants simply going wild with joy for their deliverance from slavery. Addresses were made by Moham medan and Christian speakers in streets, in squares, in mosques, and in churches. Fraternity became for the first time the sentiment which seemed to bind all creeds, races, and tongues together in harmonious accord. Moslem and Chris tian leaders embraced and kissed each other in public, while tears rolled down the cheeks of thousands as they took part in the festivities. Burial services were performed for the Armenian martyrs of 1896, which were taken part in by Mohammedans and Christians alike. Crowds of former conflicting religious sects formed vast parades, led by their priests; and, al though the followers of Islam greatly exceeded all other sects in numbers, Christian fathers were invariably given the seat of honor in the carriages which accompanied them. All looked to the Committee of Union and Progress for guidance, and these men worked with great circumspection. Abdul Hamid was distinctly told that as. long as he ruled according to the consti tution his life would be spared, but that he would be held to a strict accounta bility for his actions. He was, neverthe less, promptly put under surveillance to insure his good behavior. Naval vessels, which had been left to rot in the port, because this wily ruler feared that some one might do as he had done with the fleet, in making it the means to drive his own brother off the throne of Turkey, were put in commission and moved to an anchorage in the Bosphorus, where the guns bore directly on Yildiz, and thus the Sultan became practically a prisoner in his own palace. PROMINENT PART PERFORMED BY AMERICANS Americans little realize what an im portant influence their countrymen and countrywomen have exerted in bringing about constitutional government in Tur key. Talcott Williams, LL.D., in an ad dress in Brooklyn, N. Y., October 15, 1908, stated: "Many causes have com bined, many factors are present, many influences have turned the hearts of men in that Empire; but, if we ask ourselves what the governing and final factor is which has brought about the first of the world's bloodless revolutions, which has seen a people divided and dissevered by creed, by race, by language, by every conceivable difference which can sepa rate the sons and daughters of men,, suddenly act together, we do ill if we: forget that for 80 years the American missionaries have been laying the foun dations and preaching the doctrine which makes free government possible."