The Syrian Protestant College and the Great War (1914-18) > 1916 > Turmoil

A difficult year seemed to lay ahead: supplies dwindled rapidly, disease was widespread, the Ottoman government issued paper money to replace the golden currency, and communication with the outside world became harder; a sense of isolation and despair started to take its toll on even the strongest spirits. The 50th anniversary of the College had to be conducted in a very subdued manner.

 

During this difficult year, both President Bliss, and Mr. Henry Morganthau, US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire,  1913-1916, had to weigh in heavily with all their diplomatic might, in order to resolve a number of thorny issues throughout the year: disputes and frictions around the new regulations for academic foreign institutions; repercussions regarding the issue of the wireless apparatus, such as repeated inspections of the campus and premises; the status of foreign subjects belonging to enemy nations. But perhaps most difficult was one noteworthy incident which brought the relations between SPC and the Ottoman Authorities to an unprecedented level of tension, namely a friction about the use of a Geography book in one of the courses taught at SPC.

 

In spite of these difficulties, and throughout the summer and autumn 1916, things remained relatively calm: US relatives were still able to send money from the States through the help of the American Press under the leadership of Secretary Charles Dana and the help of As'ad Khairallah, thus bringing in much needed funds and provisions.

 

Building of the American Press
Building of  American Press in Beirut, ca. 1917, Archives and Special Collections, Jafet Library, AUB

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