Mehmed Emin Aali Pasha

This is an Ottoman Turkish style name. Mehmed Emin Âli is the given name, the title is Pasha, and there is no family name.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Aali, Mehemet.

Mehmed Emin Âli Pasha (February 1815 – September 7, 1871), (also spelled Mehemed Emin Ali or Mehmet Emin Ali or Mehmed Emin Aali), was an Ottoman statesman. He was the principal architect of the Ottoman Reform Edict of 1856 (Ottoman Turkish: Islâhât Hatt-ı Hümâyûn-û), a crucial part of the Tanzimat reforms of the mid-19th-century Ottoman Empire, which he transformed from a tottering medieval potentate into a nation run along modern lines. His deft and subtle diplomacy made him one of the most famous statesmen of mid-19th-century Europe.[1]

Brief summary

Mehmed Emin Âli Pasha

Mehmed Emin Aali Pasha was born in Istanbul and was the "son of a shopkeeper."[2] Since he had a knowledge of French he was able to enter the diplomatic service of his country at an early age when he obtained a post in the Translation Office of the Ottoman Empire in 1833. He then became the secretary of legation in Turkey (1834–36) and then the secretary of the Embassy in Vienna. In 1840 he became the Minister of Foreign Affairs for a short time, before serving as ambassador to Great Britain in London (1841–44), and again Minister of Foreign Affairs under Koca Mustafa Reşid Pasha ( Reshid Pasha ) in 1846. In 1852 he was promoted to the post of Grand Vizier. He continued to represent the Ottoman Empire for most of the rest of his life, being Foreign Minister in 1857-8, July 1861 and November 1861 to 1867, and Grand Vizier in 1858-9, 1861 and 1867-71. A scholar and a linguist, he was a match for the diplomats of European powers, against whom he successfully defended the interests of his country. He was determined to steer Turkey into the 19th century, but he also was authoritarian and overbearing in his personal manner. He was a reformist politician and process of westernization took place in the Ottoman government in his period of prime ministry. He died in the immediate vicinity of Baghdad Avenue near Erenköy at Kadıköy, Istanbul in Asia Minor on 7 September 1871 after three months of illness.

Early life

Mehmed Emin Ali Pasha was born in March 5, 1815, in Istanbul into a home of modest means. He was born the son of a shopkeeper, with no formal education except three years of primary school. It was in primary school that Ali Pasa learned to read and write in addition to memorizing some suras of the Koran.[3] Nonetheless, Ali Pasha did continue to educate himself, including teaching himself French. He started his lengthy public serve career at the age of 14 as a clerk in the imperial council. The next year Ali Pasha was transferred to the records department of the Imperial Council. Once again Ali Pasha was transferred a year later, this time to the Translation Office.[4]

Translation Office

The Translation Office (Turkish: Tercüme Odası, known in English as the office of the "dragoman" from the Turkish tercüme, "translation") was set up in response to Greek independence. This was due to the fact that, prior to Greek independence, many Greeks had acted as translators in government business. Consequently, the Greek uprising for independence resulted in an exodus of the Greek translators working for the government and left a demand for translators.[5] In addition, internal affairs including, the defeat of Ottoman armies at the hand of the Egyptians and the Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi with the Russians, diplomacy became more important. Such developments not only led to growth within the Translation office, but also to higher scrutiny of the Translation Office and it increased salaries.[6] The job, however, didn’t just improve Ali Paha’s lot in life; it also impacted his future policies. For instance, Ali Pasha and others in the Translation Office, such as Ali Pasha’s future partner in reform, Mehmed Fuad Pasha, got needed experience in the world of diplomacy through the work of translation in that very field. This exposure to the diplomatic realm distanced Mehmed Emin Ali Pasha from the values of traditional Ottoman Society while at the same time developed within him the values of a rational bureaucrat.

Mustafa Reşid Pasha

In 1835 Ali Pasha was appointed second secretary to the Embassy in Vienna, where he studied the organization of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. A few years later Ali Pasha found himself as counselor to Mustafa Reşid Pasha. Although, Mustafa Reşid Pasha was only ambassador to the Court of Saint James, better known as the royal court of Britain, he would be appointed Grand Vizier in 1839 and began a period of reform in the Ottoman Empire, known as the Tenzimat Reform. Mustafa left Ali Pasa in charge while he headed back to the Ottoman Empire to take his position as Grand Vizier.[7] This development eventually would lead to Ali Pasha being made the official ambassador and he would continue to rise higher and higher in political office.

The Crimean War

In 1854 during the Crimean War Ali Pasha was recalled from retirement in order to take the portfolio of foreign affairs for a second time under Reshid Pasha and in this capacity took part in 1855 in the conference of Vienna. In 1855 he again became the Grand Vizier for one year, an office he filled no less than five times; in that role he represented the Porte at the Congress of Paris in 1856 and signed the peace treaty that ended the Crimean War.

Ali Pasha as an Ambassador

Mehmed Emin Âli Pasha at Treaty of Paris (1856).

In 1846 Mehmed Emin Ali Pasha was made Minister of Foreign Affairs under Mustafa Pasa which is no surprise given his well honed skill in diplomacy. Sultan Abdulaziz, who often clashed with Ali Pasa over the powers of the Grand Vizier, admitted that he couldn’t replace such a man so recognized in Europe. It was during his role as ambassador that Ali Pasha promoted friendship with England and France as well as incorporating western practices into the Ottoman Empire. For example, based on his experience of the education system of Europe, Ali Pasha laid the foundation of the prestigious Galatasaray High School in its modern form, where children of minority religions would be taught amongst Muslim students. This was done so that people of other religions would cease to see the Turks, as enemies.[8] Ali Pasha’s responsibilities and recognition increased further when he was chosen as lead delegate for the peace talks, while being appointed Grand Vizier again in the 1855 Congress of Vienna, following the Crimean war. It was there that he formatted a peace settlement that included the Ottoman Empire into the Concert of Europe, a balance of power among European nations, and that the other powers of the Concert of Europe would respect the territories of the Ottoman Empire and its independence. Subsequently, it was altered somewhat and incorporated into Article seven of the 1856 treaty of Paris.[9]

Edict of 1856

Although the intervention of England, France, and Sardinia in the Crimean War, in addition to the Treaty of Paris in 1856, saved the Ottoman Empire from Russia, the Ottoman Empire was now facing external pressure from its saviors to treat all their citizens equally regardless of religion. In response, Grand Vizier Ali Pasha formulated the Hatt-i Humayun reform edict of 1856. This promised equality to everyone in front of the law, opened civil offices to all subjects, guaranteed the security of life and property of non-Muslims and promised no one would be forced to change their religion. As a result, there was an increase of Christian missionaries in the Ottoman Empire. This created a concern that Muslims would convert to Christianity and get out of military service. In response to this fear, the Ottoman Empire ended up making a policy that conversion would not be allowed. In short, converts to Christianity could be arrested and punished. The new freedoms also were unpopular with some non-Muslim members of the Ottoman population. Christian subjects, for instance, were angry for being put on the same level as Jews.[10]

Ali Pasha versus the opposition

Ali Pasha constantly battled the sultan on the powers of the Grand Vezir during his time in office. He not only insisted that the sultan defer to him for ministerial appointments, but also secretaries and even attendants.[11] Ali Pasha was also known to remove those with whom he disagreed politically, such as, the Young Ottomans. The Young Ottomans disagreed vehemently with the Tanzimat reform and saw it as pandering to the demands of Europe at the expense of sharia law.[12] Ali Pasha, on the other hand, wanted the fusion of all subjects by providing equal opportunities in education and public office, with the end result being that Christians no longer would see themselves as oppressed by the Ottoman state, therefore leading to a more stable empire.[13] This idea of fusion of Ottoman citizens was known as Ottomanism and the Young Ottomans didn’t share this view, expressing their views through media like newspapers. Although, the opposition tactics of the Young Ottomans were within the boundaries of Istanbul censorship, Ali Pasha nonetheless closed down their newspapers and banished them.[14]

Death and legacy

In 1871, Mehmed Emin Ali Pasha died at the age of 56. In response to his death, the Young Ottomans returned from exile, hoping to find a government more in line with their ideals. The new Vezir, Mahmud Nedim Pasha, was an advocate of sultan absolutism, and the only thing he shared at all with the Young Ottomans was the belief of an Islamic character of the Ottoman Empire.[15] However, in 1910, a political testament of the deceased Ali Pasha was published. The document in question was written in 1871 and was addressed to Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz in this political treatise, Ali Pasa accounts his accomplishments such as keeping the Ottoman Empire intact, improving the bureaucracy, dealing with revolts with minor concessions, starting railroad construction and appeasement of European powers. Also, Ali Pasha mentions some failures on his part, such as the inadequate tax system, and goes on to give the sultan advice for the future. Such advice includes maintaining religious freedom, accepting non-Muslims into the armed forces and civil service, as well as, improving the tax system by employing controlled companies to collect taxes.[16] Although, some doubt exists as to the accuracy or authenticity of this document, it chronicles an outline of the accomplishments Ali Pasha performed during his service to the Ottoman Empire, including, a vision for further reforms to develop a strong, united and fiscally sound Ottoman Empire.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mehmed Emin Aali Pasha.


  2. A History of the modern middle east Cleveland and Buntin p.76
  3. Andic, Fuat, The Political Testaments of Richelieu and Âli Pasha (June 8, 2009). doi:10.2139/ssrn.1416210
  4. Andic, Fuat, The Political Testaments of Richelieu and Âli Pasha (June 8, 2009). doi:10.2139/ssrn.1416210
  5. Finkel, Caroline. Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923. New York: Basic Books, 2006. 462.
  6. Findley, Carter V. Bureaucratic Reform in the Ottoman Empire: The Sublime Porte, 1789-1922. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980. 135.
  7. Andic, Fuat, The Political Testaments of Richelieu and Âli Pasha (June 8, 2009). doi:10.2139/ssrn.1416210
  8. Murat Yel, Ali. Teaching Religion in a Secular Society. Diss., Fatih University, Department of Sociology. Accessed November 18, 2013.
  9. Fikret, Adanir (2005). "Turkey's entry into the Concert of Europe". European Review. 13: 395–417. doi:10.1017/S1062798705000530.
  10. Finkel, Caroline. Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923. New York: Basic Books, 2006. 458-469.
  11. Findley, Carter V. Bureaucratic Reform in the Ottoman Empire: The Sublime Porte, 1789-1922. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980. 170.
  12. Hanioğlu, M. Şükrü. A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. 103-04.
  13. Roderic H. Davidson."Turkish Attitudes Concerning Christian-Muslim Equality in the Nineteenth Century."The American Historical Review , Vol. 59, No. 4 (Jul., 1954), pp. 844-864.
  14. Hanioğlu, M. Şükrü. A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. 103-04.
  15. Hanioğlu, M. Şükrü. A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. 103-04.
  16. Roderic H. Davison. "The Question of Ali Pasa's Political Testament." International Journal of Middle East Studies , Vol. 11, No. 2 (Apr., 1980), pp. 209-225.Published by: Cambridge University


Preceded by
Koca Mustafa Reşid Pasha
Grand Vizier
6 August 1852 - 3 October 1852
Succeeded by
Damat Mehmed Ali Pasha
Preceded by
Koca Mustafa Reşid Pasha
Grand Vizier
2 May 1855 - 1 November 1856
Succeeded by
Koca Mustafa Reşid Pasha
Preceded by
Koca Mustafa Reşid Pasha
Grand Vizier
7 January 1858 - 18 October 1859
Succeeded by
Kıbrıslı Mehmed Emin Pasha
Preceded by
Kıbrıslı Mehmed Emin Pasha
Grand Vizier
6 August 1861 - 22 November 1861
Succeeded by
Keçecizade Mehmed Emin Fuad Pasha
Preceded by
Mütercim Mehmed Rüşdi Pasha
Grand Vizier
11 February 1867 - 7 September 1871
Succeeded by
Mahmud Nedim Pasha
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