Mithat Paşa

Osmanlı Sadrazamı, Devlet Adamı

07 Mayıs, 1884
Diğer İsimler
Ahmet Şefik (asıl adı)

Statesman, the Ottoman Grand Vizier (B. 1822, Istanbul - D. May 7-8 1884). His real name was Ahmed Şefik. His father was Rusçuklu Hacı Hafız Mehmet Eşref Efendi, who was a small officer at Ministry of Foundations. He memorized "Koran" when he was ten years old. At the age of eleven, he went to Vidin to where his father was appointed as naip (deputy of judge) and next year he returned to Istanbul with him. In 1834 he entered to Dîvân-ı Hümâyun (T.N. Imperial Council Secretariat) through the help of Reisülküttap Âkif Pasha. In this secretariat where he got the pen name "Midhat" not only did he learn a good level of divanî (a special type of writing) writing in six months, but also he began to take courses of Arabic and Persian. He left Istanbul in 1835 when his father was appointed as the naip (T.N. viceroy) of Lofça.

In the following year when he returned to Istanbul with his family, he returned to his job at the Imperial Council Secretariat. Moreover, he continued to the classes of nahiv (syntax), logic, meanî (general principles of Islamic law), fiqh (Islamic law) and hikmet (wisdom in words and behaviors) from such teachers as Doyranlı Mehmet Efendi and Zağralı Şerif Efendi in Fatih Mosque. In 1840, he was transferred to the Sadaret (Prime Ministry) Secretariat. As his first field service job, he was appointed as the assistant of chief editor of Damascus in 1842. After having served for two years in Damascus and Sidon, he became the council clerk of Bekir Sami Pasha and he went to Konya with him in 1845, and he went to Kastamonu in 1847. He returned to Istanbul in the following year.

Mithat Efendi, was employed in the official reports (minutes) room under Meclis-i Vâlâ-yı Ahkâmı Adliyye (advisory council) in 1849. Because of his successes, there he was promoted to the position of serhalife (most senior registrar) with the title of mütemayiz (an intermediary rank in official posts) in his second year. Then, with a temporary duty, he was sent to Damascus in order to investigate the accusations against Kıbrıslı Mehmet Emin Pasha who was the indicator of the Arabistan army and collect the receivables of the treasury by eliminating dispute arising in the customs of Damascus and Aleppo. Because of his success in this semiannual duty, he attracted the attention of Mustafa Reşit, Âli and Fuad pashas. During this period, as the editorial department of Meclis-i Vâlâ-yı Ahkâmı Adliyye was separated into two parts, namely as Anatolian and Rumelia, Mithat Efendi became the second clerk of Anatolia. During the course, his relationships with the mentioned pashas developed, he won friends and enemies within the struggle of power in Sublime Porte (government center). When Kıbrıslı Mehmet Emin Pasha became the Grand Vizier in June 1854, he was sent away from Istanbul to İslimye, Cuma and Shumen where there was an increase in complaints about the local administrations.

In the second phase of his bureaucratic career, in January 1861, he was appointed as the governor of Niş, one of the most problematic provinces in the Balkans. Within two years he had roads, bridges built, and he provided security throughout the province of Niş. He executed a successful governing in collaboration with the people from all strata. Prizren, where the number of conflicts increased gradually, was given to his administration because of his performance. The success in this province, where he served for three years made him one of the architects of local administrative reforms, considered first for the Balkans and after the whole country.

Struggling to prevent internal disturbances facilitating external interferences, Grand Vizier Fuat and Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Pashas caused Mithat Pasha to join to preparatory works of province system by calling him to Istanbul in 1864. In November 1864, Rusçuk being the center the governance of Danube province was given to Mithat Pasha. In Danube, which includes a big part of today’s Bulgaria, important advances in the transportation of river and land were provided in three and a half years. For such reasons as the development of agriculture, the works resulting in foundation of Ziraat Bank, the fact that the newspaper of Tuna”, which was the first provincial newspaper in Ottoman Empire, was out in both Turkish and Bulgarian in March 1865, taken precautions to increase the safety, it was believed that the new province regulation was applicable and it was expanded to other provinces of the country, especially to Bosnia, Syria, Aleppo, in several years.

With his appointment as the head of Şûrayı Devlet (council of state) in March 1868, Mithat Pasha's career’s third part started. During his duty, he worked on such issues as the metric system, citizenship, mines, safety fund (a loaning system) and industrial school. Being on such a high level duty at the capital for the first time, Mithat Pasha was warded off Istanbul by being sent to governorate of Baghdad because of the disagreement between him and Grand Vizier Âli Pasha due to both personal and administrative problems. He governed the province of Baghdad including Mosul and Basra with a broad authority even over the Sixth Army Commandership for three years (1869-72). With his experience of governance he gained in Balkans, Mithat Pasha implemented the Land Code and the new provincial code also here. When Âli Pasha died in September 1871 and the power passed to Mahmut Nedim Pasha, the leader of the opponents of the Tanzimat, the pressure on Mithat Pasha increased. He returned to Istanbul in May 1872, by resigning from the governance of Baghdad and became the center of interest of opponent groups. Found it dangerous to stay in Istanbul, he was appointed by Mahmut Nedim Pasha first to Sivas and then to Edirne because rejected to go to Sivas.

However, before he went to place of duty, he was called before the Sultan and appointed as Grand Vizier with the influence of intense complaints about his rival (July 31st, 1872). However, his duty as a Grand Vizier did not last long. He was suspended from his duty partially as a result of the pressure by the Russian embassy, which declared him as persona non grata since his governance of Niş, and also because of political and administrative disputes between the court and him in a short time and his irregular conducts (October 19th, 1872). During the following four years, he took the short-term management tasks. He was unemployed for a few months, and then he was appointed as the Minister of Justice in March 1873. He was suspended from his duty by the Sultan when it was learned that he had prepared a report (a script declarative of one's opinion and thoughts) about overcoming the executive and financial difficulties and opening of Meclis-i Mebusan (T.N. National Assembly) and he was sent to the governance of Thessaloniki in October 1873. When he was suspended from this duty in February 1874, he returned to Istanbul and dealt with his garden chores of his land. Then, in the newly established Mahmut Nedim Pasha Government, he was appointed as the Minister of Justice (August 1875). He resigned from this duty in November 1875 for protesting the Grand Vizier because he could not find solutions of executive crisis, financial failure and the ongoing revolt in the Balkans. In the government of Mütercim Mehmet Rüştü Pasha, he was appointed first as a member of Mecalis-i Aliye (T.N. Grand Council) in May 1876, and then as the head of Şurayı Devlet for the second time.

Nevertheless, Sultan Abdülaziz was dethroned at that time (May 30th, 1876). A disagreement between those who staged the coup emerged about the necessity of Kanun-i Esasi (Constitution) and a council. After that, Sultan Abdülaziz died in the first week after his dethronement and there were doubts left. Dauphin Abdülhamid was enthroned on August 31st, 1876. Mithat Pasha's appointment as Grand Vizier after the resign of Mütercim Rüştü Pasha on December 19th, 1876 was responded positively by the Constitutionalists. However, he was suspended from the duty and sent into exile on February 5th, 1877. As of November, he was appointed as governor of Syria, while he was in Crete, starting from September 1878. His duty of place was replaced with the governor of Aydın, Ahmet Hamdi Pasha in August 1880.

Meanwhile, in contrary to the warnings of his friends to flee abroad, he contented himself with writing letters to the Sultan about his blamelessness. He took refuge of the France Consulate in May 1881, when he was about to be arrested in his residence. Then, on the assurance of the Justice Minister Ahmet Cevdet Pasha, he surrendered. Once he was brought to Istanbul, he was tried in a private court set up in Yıldız Palace with the accusation that he participated in the murdering of Sultan Abdülaziz with soldiers and civilians joining in the coup in June 1881. Thereby he was found guilty and condemned to death. Taking internal and external oppositions into consideration, Abdülhamid II, converted his penalty into life sentence; he was sent to Tâif with the other convicts in July 1881. He was killed by strangling on the night of May 7-8 1884 and committed to the ground there. His bones were brought to Istanbul from Tâif and entombed in the grave made in Âbide-i Hürriyet Square.

It could be argued that the reason why Mithat Pasha was not successful at his duties as the Minister and Grand Vizier as he was at the duties in provinces was that he did everything he wanted without thinking of the consequences. However, Mithat Pasha is still one of the most important figures of Turkish political life, and constitutional and parliamentary system.


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