Abdul Hamid II

Abdul Hamid II (, `Abdü’l-Ḥamīd-i s ânî; ; 21 September 1842 – 10 February 1918) was the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and the last Sultan to exert effective autocratic control over the fracturing state. He oversaw a period of decline in the power and extent of the Ottoman Empire, including widespread pogroms and government-sanctioned massacres of Armenians, Kurds, Bulgarians, as well as an assassination attempt, ruling from 31 August 1876 until he was deposed shortly after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution, on 27 April 1909. He promulgated the first Ottoman constitution of 1876 on 23 December 1876, primarily to ward off foreign intervention, which was a sign of progressive thinking that marked his early rule. But due to his conviction of Western influence on Ottoman affairs, and the parliament’s push for the war with Russia, which he opposed, Abdul Hamid suspended the short-lived Ottoman Constitution and parliament in 1878 and seized absolute power, ending the first constitutional era of the Ottoman Empire. Abdul Hamid’s 1909 removal from the throne was hailed by most Ottoman citizens, who welcomed the return to constitutional rule after three decades. Despite his conservatism and despotic rule, evidence of modernization of the Ottoman Empire occurred during Abdul Hamid’s long reign, including reform of the bureaucracy, the extension of the Rumelia Railway and Anatolia Railway and the construction of the Baghdad Railway and Hejaz Railway, the establishment of a system for population registration and control over the press and the founding of the first modern law school in 1898. The most far-reaching of his reforms were in education; 18 professional schools were established; Darülfünun, later known as the University of Istanbul, was founded ; and a network of secondary, primary, and military schools was extended throughout the empire. Also, the Ministry of Justice was reorganized, and railway and telegraph systems were developed. Between 1871 and 1908, the Sublime Porte thus reached a new degree of organizational elaboration and articulation. The Abdul Hamid II Photo Collection given to the USA and present at the Library of Congress is a monumental portrayal of the Ottoman Empire during the time of his reign. It is a testimony to Sultan Abulhamid’s efforts to upgrade public services across the Nation. The 1,819 photographs in 51 large-format albums date from about 1880 to 1893. They highlight the modernization of numerous aspects of the Ottoman Empire, featuring images of educational facilities and students; well-equipped army and navy personnel and facilities; technologically advanced lifesaving and fire fighting brigades; factories; mines; harbors; hospitals; and government buildings. Most of the places depicted are within the boundaries of modern-day Turkey, but buildings and sites in Iraq, Lebanon, Greece and other countries are also included. He was named by his opposition as the Red Sultan or Abdul the Damned due to claimed oppression of minorities under his rule and use of a secret police to silence dissent. Today that claim is challenged by contemporary scholars who debate the reason for his deposition and what it entailed.

Content from the Wikipedia article Abdul Hamid II licensed under CC-BY-SA.