"Petition of Baha'is of Shushtar, Iran, March, 1867, to U.S. Government".
U.S. State Department translation and cover letter by J. Augustus Johnson, Consul General, Beirut
"An extraordinary document reached Beirut April 3d, addressed to the United States consul, from fifty-three Persians in Bagdad [actually from Shushtar, Iran, via Baghdad], petitioning the United States Congress for the release of their leader, Beha Allah, the Babite Persian reformer, who appeared in 1843,* and was followed by thousands, 30,000 of whom were killed by the Shah of Persia. He was arrested in Bagdad by the Turkish government, and is now (1867) in prison in Adrianople, European Turkey. His particular doctrine is 'the universal brotherhood of man.' The petitioners claim that they number 40,000. A German traveller writes from Bagdad enclosing the petition and speaks admiringly of the reformer, and asks for his release on the grounds of religious liberty which is now granted by the Sultan to all his subjects. One of the documents appended to the petition is signed with a Free Masonic Seal.**"
--Rev. Henry Harris Jessup, Fifty-three Years in Syria. New York and Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1910, Volume I, p. 329.
The petition was sent along with another cover letter and documents concerning financial and legal problems of an American millennialist sect in Jaffa, Palestine which Johnson had throughly investigated. There has yet to be found any reaction to the Baha'i petition in U.S. Government records.
* Jessup has confused Baha'u'llah with the Bab.
**The document with a Masonic Seal is not to be found in the microfilm record.
*** Johnson's appointment is recorded in the Journal of the executive procedings of the Senate of the United States of America, 1855-1858, entry for Saturday, March 14, 1857. There is also a short mention of his family and government work by his grandson, Alden Bryant, letter to President Clinton, January 7, 1996.
Microfilm of the Petition may be obtained directly from the U.S. National Archives & Records Administration: "Petition from the Persian Reformers" (National Archives Microfilm Publication T367, roll 5); Department of State, Despatches From U.S. Consuls in Beirut, Lebanon, 1836-1906, Record Group 59.
Note: Photocopies of the petition, translation, and cover letter reproduced here were provided by Robert Stauffer.
The prior notion and title that this document came from the Baha'is of Baghdad was based erroneously on Jessup's conclusion. H-Bahai has corrected the source to the Baha'is of Shuster, Iran based on a 2006 article in World Order magazine: "Persecuton and Protection: Documents about Baha'is, 1867, 1897, and 1902", World Order, Vol. 37, No. 3, 2006: 31-41.
|Envelope||Cover Letter top||Cover Letter bottom||Petition top||Petition bottom||Petition: body of text only||Translation page 1||Translation page 2||Translation page 3||Translation page 4||Recipient of Petition, Secretary of State William Seward||State Department Building in Washington, D.C., 1866|