Grand Vizier (B. 1815, Istanbul – D. 7 September 1871, Istanbul). His full name is Mehmed Emin Ali Pasha. Ali Pasha, as one of the most important statesmen of the Tanzimat (reform) period, served during the rule of Sultan Abdülmecid and Sultan Abdülâziz five times as Grand Vizier and seven times as Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as at other important positions. His father Ali Rıza Efendi was one of the herbalists Spice Bazaar. He started his education in the neighborhood school. He took Arabic lessons in Beyazıt Mosque for a while. Since his family’s financial means did not allow him to continue his education and to obtain a regular education he had to enter business life in a short time. In 1830 he became an officer in the Imperial Council with the help of a family friend. Here he developed himself in a short time and learnt official correspondence and state ethics. While on this duty he started to learn French and found the opportunity to improve it at the Translation Office of the Imperial Council, which was recently established at that time, to where he moved in 1833. Upon his successful works he was sent to Vienna as a diplomat (second secretary) together with Major General Ahmet Fethi Pasha in 1835. On his return from France Mehmed Ali Pasha continued his duty in Translation Office. In 1838 he started a duty, which would affect his future in an important way. He went to London at the court of Mustafa Reşid Pasha who was assigned to London embassy in 1838 and gained his trust with his works there. He thus secured Mustafa Reşid Pasha’s safeguard in his life afterwards.
After Sultan Abdülmecid succeeded to the crown in 1839, Ali Pasha returned to Istanbul with Mustafa Reşid Pasha. While continuing his translation duty in Istanbul he was appointed as the embassador of London, and then to Undersecretary of Foreign Ministry with the support of Reşid Pasha who was the Minister of Foreign Affairs. His rapid ascent continued when Mustafa Reşid Pasha became a Grand Vizier in 1846. He became a Minister of Foreign Affairs in the same year at the age of 31. During these years, when Reşid Pasha left Grand Viziership and reassigned to there he also left his duty and returned to it. Ali Pasha witnessed an important exam of diplomacy the Ottoman Empire passed at that time and played the leading role in it by opening doors of the Ottoman Empire to rebels who escaped from the Austrian army. He strongly opposed to the requests of Austria and Russia about extraditing Hungarian refugees, which was an important success in European policy of the Ottoman Empire.
In a period when the Ottoman Empire faced problems at home and abroad at the same time, Reşid Pasha was discharged from the Grand Vizier status in 1852 and was appointed as the Grand Vizier at the age of 38. Because of his deep respect to his protector Reşid Pasha he did not want to accept this duty but upon the insists of Sultan Abdülmecid he had to accept this duty. After his duty as Grand Vizier, which lasted a short time, he was assigned to Izmir Prefecture in 1853 and Hüdavendigar Prefecture in 1854. While on this duty, he was appointed Head of Meclis-i Ali-i Tanzimat, which was granted broad authorities in legislation, and which was created after Meclis-i Vâlâ-yı Ahkâm-ı Adliye, which was an important institution of Tanzimat, was split in half.
Ali Pasha became a Grand Vizier for the second time in 1855 and during this duty, which lasted for one and a half years, he represented the Ottoman Empire as First Envoy in Paris Conference, which ended the Crimean War, and he signed the Paris Peace Treaty. During the conference, Ali Pasha attempted to remove capitulations, which built a big obstacle for the state to develop, but he could not achieve the success expected about this issue. He tried to prevent harms as much as possible, which could occur if foreigners acquired possessions in Turkey and foreign capital entered the country. However considering the problems the state faced he followed a different policy and decided to act to gain friendship of important European states.
The major topic Ali Pasha was criticized about was his role at signing Royal Edict of Reform. Ali Pasha was heavily criticized by his opponents, primarily by Reşid Pasha, when he reorganized the situations of non-Muslim people in the Empire according to the requests of powerful states with the Royal Edict of Reform dated 18 February 1856. Because of that, he was discharged from his duty and succeeded by Reşid Pasha.
Ali Pasha became the Grand Vizier for the third time in 1858 and during this period, he sought a remedy for financial situation, which went down after the Crimean War. Foreign debts, which were acquired with great difficulties and under heavy conditions, were spent to daily expenditures and since it was not enough, an additional debt was acquired from moneylenders of Beyoğlu. Ali Pasha could not find a radical and lasting solution to this situation and he only reduced expenditures of the palace, therefore he was discharged in 1859.
When Sultan Abdülaziz succeeded to the crown in 1861 and stayed there until his death in 1871, Ali Pasha served as a Grand Vizier for a period of 10 years when Ali Pasha had the most influence in the State level of the Ottoman Empire. His fifth Vizier period which lasted until his death in 1867 was of great important. Two crisis which occurred in this period, Serbia and Crete issues were solved with efforts of Ali Pasha. Ali Pasha left last fortified places of Serbia and Belgrade castles, which were under Ottoman, control to Serbians in 1867. In order to solve the Crete issue he went to Crete in 1868. In reports he wrote from there, he defended the idea, “The state has to take the measures to realize the required reforms of the Christian subjects in order to take this weapon of deception from their hands”. He prepared a regulation, which contained a list of permissions and royalties and requested a kind of autonomy for the island.
Ali Pasha feared the possibility of a foreign intervention and he followed a careful policy. After rebels left their weapons with a general amnesty he cut the connections between the island and Greece. This caused the relations to be interrupted between Ottomans and Greeks for a while. Ali Pasha made local Greeks in the island partners to the new administration after Greece was taken under control. Muslims and Christians took part in the new administration in equal numbers of representatives. However, this form of solution caused broad reactions in Istanbul. It was even said that Ali Pasha gave Crete to Greeks.
Another one of the important works of Ali Pasha during his Grand Vizier period was the opposing attempts of Ismail Pasha, prefect of Egypt, to be more autonomous in the rule of Egypt. He steadily managed to prevent impositions of Ismail Pasha to expand his influence and field of authority. Ismail Pasha who was granted the title of Hidiv attempted to impose certain steps, to establish direct political relations with European states using intrigues and his financial power and acquire debts without the permission of the Empire. Ali Pasha tried to take measures against these.
Upon the death of Fuad Pasha in 1869, who was his close friend and another important person of Tanzimat period Ali Pasha also undertook Ministry of Foreign Affairs and thus became the only arbiter in the government.
Ali Pasha who served five times as Grand Vizier, seven times as Minister of Foreign Affairs and aside from these in countless state duties lost his good health upon the death of Fuad Pasha, difficulty of the new duties he undertook and tuberculosis disease he caught. He passed away in Istanbul on the 7th of September 1871. With his death Tanzimat period, which was regarded as one of the most important periods of the Ottoman history, was terminated.
Ali Pasha, his protector Mustafa Reşit Pasha and his friend Fuat Pasha were accepted as three most important statesmen of Tanzimat period. He was known as a pure and honest person. Since he was excessively rigid in the rule of the state he was criticized by some authors such as Namık Kemal, Ziya Pasha and Ali Suavi. Nevertheless, in a period in which devastating changes and traumas were experienced at home and abroad he represented the state in different positions and tried to protect the interests of Ottoman Empire in the best way possible.