Statesman, politician and economist (B. 1875, Thessaloniki – D. August 26th, 1926,
Ankara). His father was Naim Bey who was a Thessalonican merchant, his mother
was Pakize Hanım. He was the father of language critic and translator Şiar Yalçın,
the eldest of siblings the others of whom were Mustafa Şefkati and İsmail Kâzım.
He had primary and secondary education in Thessaloniki
Şemsi Efendi Primary
School and Feyz-i Sıbyan Rüştiyesi (Ottoman Junior High School). Then, he went to Istanbul and graduated from Dersaâdet
Mekteb-i İdâdî-i Mülkî (Istanbul
High School) and the higher section of
Mekteb-i Mülkiyye-i Şâhâne (Military School).
He began his business life in Accounting Department of Ziraat Bank. He
worked as an officer in Statistics Branch Office of Correspondence Office of Maarif Nezareti (Ministry of Education), the account
teacher in Ayasofya Merkez High School
and the economy teacher in Dârülmuallimîn-i Âliye
(Higher Teaching College) (1898). He was appointed to the clerkship of Head Office
of Secondary Education (1899), as the principal of Ottoman Junior
School (Mekteb-i Feyzi) (1902). In the first (1908-12) and the second (1912) period
of the National Assembly, he was the deputy of Thessaloniki and in the third period (1914-18) he was the deputy of the Çanakkale sanjak. He
took charge in managerial staff of the İttihad ve Terakki Cemiyeti (T.N. the Committee of Union and Progress).
Cavid Bey played an active role in the constitution of confidential Osmanlı
Hürriyet Cemiyeti, (T.N. the Ottoman Freedom Society) when he was in Thessaloniki. As
of 1905, Masonic lodges were opened outside Istanbul
and especially in Macedonia
Mehmed Cavid Bey was one of the important founders of the lodges established in
He was also among the founders of the first Turkish Grand Freemason Lodge
established under the name ‘Maşrık-ı Azâm-ı Osmani’ on August 1st,
1909 under the name of ‘Maşrık-ı Azâm-ı Osmani’. After the merger of the
Osmanlı Hürriyet Cemiyeti with the Committee of Union and Progress (1907), he continued his works here. He ran the Finance
Ministry (14th September 1910) in the governments of Hüseyin
Hilmi Pasha (1909) and İbrahim Hakkı Pasha, and the Ministry of Public Works (1912) in Sait Pasha’s government. He
founded Osmanlı İtibâr-ı Milli Bank (1917). A while after Talat
Pasha was assigned as the grand vizier (prime minister), he was once again
charged as the Minister of Finance (1917-18). He was
elected as Turkiye Dâyinler (Payees) Agent of the Ottoman Public Debt
Bey was tried in Dîvân-ı Harb-i Örfî (the Military Commission)
established by the Damat Ferid Pasha Government to try the members of the Committee for Union and Progress and in absentia was sentenced to
fifteen years’ hard labor. With this, after having hidden for a while in Istanbul, he first fled to France,
then to Switzerland.
After he returned to Thessaloniki,
he joined the Young Turks movement. He served as principal and teacher in Feyziye
Mektepleri (Junior High Schools). Between 1908 and 1911, he bi-weekly issued Ulûm- ı İktisâdiye ve İçtimâiye, defending the liberal thought, in collaboration with
Rıza Tevfik and Ahmet Şuayip in Istanbul. After the proclamation of the second
Constitutional Monarchy (1908), he took part in the National Assembly as the deputy
of Çanakkale and Thessaloniki.
He was appointed as the Minister of Finance by Grand Vizier Ahmet Tevfik Pasha
Government founded after March 31st (13th April 1909) events.
During the Committee of Union and
Progress governance, he was repeatedly appointed to the same task and resigned.
He modernized the Ottoman finance. He fought for the abolition of
capitulations. He made efforts to the emergence of the Turkish businessman
class. Those words said by Cavid Bey, who believed in economic liberalism, in
his speech in 1917’s budget negotiations were famous:
“We are nationalists. We don’t want all
enterprises that are done in our country to be made by foreigners and we don’t
want to be just visitors. No!...
against entering of Ottoman Empire to World
War I (1914-18) and Armenian relocation. He became one of the founders of
İtibar-ı Milli Bank (Credit National Ottoman) which was planned to be converted
into a national bank in 1917. This attempt was identified as a “financial war”.
This projected failed to be actualized as Ottoman Empire
was defeated in the world war. He resigned likewise the Ahmet İzzet Pasha Government
after the Treaty of Montrose was signed. He did not take part in the successive
attended the London Conference held in February 1921 in accompany of Bekir Sami
Bey, the representative of Ankara
government. Then, he returned to Turkey in July 1922. Even though he
was charged in the Turkish Delegation participating to Lausanne Conference as
per request of Atatürk, he was resigned in a short span of time. He was blamed for
having been involved among those desiring to re-animate the Committee of Union and Progress and
enforce amendment to constitution.
In 1921, Cavid Bey married Aliye Nazlı Hanım, the
former wife of Prince Burhaneddin, who was exiled after the abolishment of the Ottoman
Reign. His son Şiar (Yalçın, 1924) was born from this marriage. During the
establishment of the republic, he acted in opposite to the government. In the
course of Izmir
assassination incident planned against Atatürk, he was accused of being a part
of the assassination and he was tried at the Independence Court. His argument in this
course was characterized as a “rhetoric masterpiece”. However, the court trying
him did not believe what he said and he was put to death with Dr. Nâzım, Yenibahçeli
Nail Bey, Filibeli Hilmi in the Public Prison in Cebeci-Ankara on August 26th,
he wrote for his wife, while he was under arrest due to assassination attempt,
to be read after he was released were published with the name “Zindandan Mektuplar” (T.N. Letters from
Prison) and the letters that he wrote for his then-two-year-old son were
published under the name “Şiar’a
Mektuplar” (T.N. Letters to Şiar). His friend Hüseyin Cahit Bey brought up
his son Osman Şiar. Location of his grave stayed unknown for a long time. His
lost grave was founded with President Celâl Bayar’s attempt in 1950’s and
transferred to Cebeci Asri Graveyard.
Bey’s articles in the fields of economy and finance were published in Sultan
Abdulhamit’s period under the name of “İlm-i Servet” in Servet-i Fünûn journal, in Ulûm-ı
İktisâdiyye ve İctimâiyye Journal of which he was the manager, and author
and also in Sabah and Tanin newspapers. Before his diaries
and memoirs were collected into a book, they were serialized by Hüseyin Cahit
Yalçın between 1943 and 1946 in the Tanin
newspaper. Cavid Bey was one of the first liberal economists in Ottoman Empire. He touched upon some topics that today’s
political economists are still debating, almost a hundred year ago and made
significant observations on them. Mehmet Cavid Bey worked as the Minister of
Finance for almost six years in the Committee of Union and Progress period;
furthermore, he was an important statesman and politician who carried out works
in the field of economics.
İlm-i İktisad (4 books, 1899-2001, 1905-12), İhsâiyât (Statistics, 1909), Birinci Nutuk
(1911), Malûmât-ı İktisadiye (1913), Nutuk (1917), Felaket Günleri - Mütareke
Devrinin Feci Tarihi 1 – II (2004).