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The United States and the Turkish Republic before World War II: The Cultural Dimension

Author(s): Robert L. Daniel


Source: Middle East Journal, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Winter, 1967), pp. 52-63
Published by: Middle East Institute
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4324091
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THE UNITED STATESAND THE TURKISH


REPUBLICBEFOREWORLD WAR II:
THE CULTURALDIMENSION'
RobertL. Daniel
T

whichcarried
fromtheorbitof traditional,
oriental
1HE revolution
Turkey

cultureto that of contemporary


Western civilizationwas one of the
most far-reachingevents of the years betweenthe two World Wars.
By October1923, the militaryphase of the revolutionwas over. Thereafter
MustafaKemal,the personification
of the Nationalistmovement,devotedthe
remainingyears of his life to reshapingthe political, economic,social and
culturalinstitutionsof Turkey.
Americanrelationswith Turkeywerepromptlycaughtup in this maelstrom
of change. In generaltermsthe characterof American-Turkish
culturalrelationsfor the 1920'sand 1930'swasconditionedby two dilemmas.The dilemma
of the Nationalistswas to balancethe desirefor reformagainsta deep-seated
xenophobia.The dilemmaof the Americanswas to balancea willingnessto be
of serviceagainstan equallydeep-seateddislikeof the "TerribleTurk." The
conflictbetweenthe xenophobiccharacterof TurkishnationalismandAmerican
distastefor the "TerribleTurk" formed the principaltheme of AmericanTurkishculturalrelationsuntil World War II.
The characterof the reformssought by the Kemalistsbore importantly
on whatmightbe askedof the Americans.Underthe influenceof ZiyaG6kalp
1. The substanceof this paperwas read at the 1964 meetingof the MississippiValley Historical
Association.
<> ROBERT L. DANIEL

is associateprofessorof historyat Ohio University,Athens,Ohio.

52

THE UNITED STATESAND THE TURKISH REPUBLIC

53

the Nationalistshad adopteda subtledistinctionbetweencivilizationand culture. Theyaspiredto adoptthe techniquesandinstitutionsof Westerncivilization while retainingthe spirit of their distinctiveTurkishculture. Gokalp's
phrase was "In head European,in heart Turkish."2 Once in control the
initiatinga floodof reformsdesignedto
Kemalistsmovedalongpragmatically,
nationalizeand secularizeTurkishsocialandculturallife. While thesereforms
touchedevery aspect of life in Turkey,three centralinterestscarriedhigh
priorities. Kemal was bent on educatinga sufficientnumberof new Turks
to providethe Republicwith leadersfor the next generation;he was much
concernedwith the transmissionof Western technologyto Turkey;and he
wantedTurkeyto becomeacquaintedwith and to participatein the literature
and artsof the Westernworld.3
While Nationalistleadersstronglydesiredto adopt elementsof Western
civilization,they were equallyfearful of becomingdependentupon the European states. Great Britainand France,with whom OttomanTurkeyenjoyed
close ties, were regardedwith distrustby the Nationalists. It seemedto one
Nationalistleaderthat Britainand Francehad soughtto "destroyall Turkish
social bonds,to kill the progressivespirit, to foment religiousreaction,and
to make of the Turks individualslaves chainedto the past."4 The British
were particularlysingled out as the "mercilessenemiesof the very existence
of Turkey."5
By contrastthe reputationof the United States with the Kemalistswas
good,andtheirreceptivityto Americaninfluencewasincreasing.Veryimportant
in creatinggood will towardthe UnitedStateswas the conductof the American
AdmiralBristol. Politicallyit seemedto someof Kemal's
High Commissioner,
intimatesthat only the United Stateshad the power to offset the pernicious
influenceof Great Britain and France. "Cooperationwith America"was
termed"the least dangerousand most hopeful course." Not only would it
do away with the effects of rivalriesbetween Europeannations and save
2. Donald EverettWebster, The Turkeyof Atatfirk:Social Processin the TurkishReformation
(Philadelphia: AmericanAcademyof Political and Social Science, 1939), p. 159. Similar views
were expressedby MustafaKemal; see ErnestJackh,The Rising Crescent:TurkeyYesterday,Today,
and Tomorrow (New York: Farrar& Rinehart,1944), p. 169. See also AbdulhakAdnan-Adivar,
"Interactionof Islamicand WesternThoughtin Turkey,"in T. CuylerYoung, Near EasternCulture
and Society: A Symposium on the Meeting of East and Wlest (Princeton: Princeton University Press,

1951), pp. 125-126.


3. Lewis V. Thomas,"The National and InternationalRelationsof Turkey,"in Young, op. cit.,
p. 179; Sydney Nettleton Fisher, The Middle East A History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1959),

p. 393; George Lenczowski,The Middle East in World Affairs (Ithaca: Cornell UniversityPress,
1952), p. 121.
4. AhmedEmin Yalman,Turkeyin My Time (Norman: Universityof OklahomaPress, 1956),
p. 68. Halide Edib, TurkeyFaces West A TurkishView of RecentChangesand their Origin (New
Haven: Yale UniversityPress, 1930), p. 188, comments:"For the first time the West, its methods,
and everythingconnectedwith it, becameunpopularand hateful. It was too utterly inhuman,in
Turkisheyes, to last any longer."
5. Yalman,Turkeyin My Time, p. 71.

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Turkeyfrompartition,but Americacould supplyTurkeywith expertguidance


for a periodof years. Thus a connectionbetweenpoliticaland culturalrelations was acknowledged.At the same time the unwillingnessof the United
Statesgovernmentin the 1920'sand 1930'sto assumeresponsibilitiesabroad,
madeit certainthatsuchaid as the NationalistssecuredfromAmericanswould
comefromprivateAmericaninstitutionsalreadyin Turkeyand fromAmerican
citizenswho were especiallyrecruitedby the Turkishgovernment.6
The receptivityof the Nationalists to Americaninfluenceswas directly
strengthenedby the presencewithin the Kemalistentourageof Turkswith
strongAmericanculturalties. Somelike HiiseyinPekta?,the Secretaryto the
Nationalist delegationat the LausanneConference,and Halide Edib, who
served as aide-de-campto MustafaKemal, were productsof the American
collegesin Turkey.A few like AhmedEminYalman,a leaderof thoughtwho
preferredto remainoutside the official family, were educatedin America.
HavingglimpsedWesterncivilizationthroughthe mediumof Americanschools,
booksand instructors,they were able to assureAmericanways of thoughtand
significant
hearingin Nationalistcouncils.It is particularly
actiona sympathetic
that their influencewas exertedto give the Kemalistprograma democratic
flavor.7
Ironicallythe Americaninstitutionslocatedin Turkeywere ill-equippedto
work constructivelywith the Kemalists. Oldest of these institutionswere
the missions,schools, hospitalsand press of the AmericanBoard of Commissionersfor ForeignMissions. Most significantwere the two independent
Woman's
RobertCollege and the Constantinople
colleges at Constantinople,
College. Becausetheseinstitutionshad servedchieflythe Christianpopulations
of the OttomanEmpire,many Turks dislikedthem, and with most of the
Christianseitherdeador outsideTurkey,the Americaninstitutionsfacedadjustmentsof greatmagnitude.8
The first concretestep towardsmore extensive culturalrelations was a
campaignto create a friendly attitude toward Turkey'srevolution. James
Levi Barton,the Secretaryof the AmericanBoard,was sent to the Lausanne
Conferenceto lobbyagainstany abandonmentof the specialprivilegeswhich
Americanshitherto had enjoyedin Turkey. But he came away convinced
that the only alternativeto abandoningmissionpropertyand work in Turkey
was to acceptthe new order.Upon his returnto the United States,Bartonbecame a leading advocateof Kemal'sRepublic. He exposed the myths and
6. Ibid., p. 73; see also, Halide Edib, TurkeyFaces West, pp. 159, 174; H. C. Armstrong,
Grey Wolf MustafaKemalAn IntimateStudyof a Dictator (London,ArthurBarker,1932), p. 114;
Webster, Turkey of Ataturk, p. 85.

7. EleanorBisbee, The New Turks Pioneers of the Republic, 1920-1950 (Philadelphia:Universityof PennsylvaniaPress, 1951), p. 90.
8. Arnold J. Toynbeeand KennethP. Kirkwood,Turkey (New York: CharlesScribner'sSons,
1927), p. 249.

THE UNITED STATESAND THE TURKISH REPUBLIC

55

exaggerationsof earlier anti-Turkishpropaganda;he heraldedthe reforms


institutedby the Kemalists;and he mobilizedleadersof missionary,church,
philanthropicand educationalorganizationsto support ratificationof the
LausanneTreaty. Although he was unable to persuadethe Senate to approvethe Treaty,his campaignbroughtan end to the vilificationof the Turk
and laid the basis for an improvedclimateof feeling about Turkeyin the
United States. So deeply implantedwere the stereotypesof the "Terrible
Turk"and the "SickMan of Europe"thatthe taskof obliteratingtheseimages
took the betterpartof two decades.9
Despitethe effortsof the AmericanBoardto seek a modusvivendiwith the
Turks,missioninstitutionsencounteredcontinuingresistancefrom suspicious
Nationalistsand devoutMuslims. Underlyingthe decisionto continueoperations in Turkeywas a new viewpointin missionaryphilosophywhich stressed
that a Christianimpactcould be made as effectivelythroughthe exampleof
good characteras by formalpreachingof the Gospel. But TurkishNationalists
took exceptionto this ironic doctrine,for it still exposedTurkishyouth to
foreign culturalinfluences. Devout Muslimswere especiallyirked with the
implicationthat Christianitywas the most fruitful,if not the only, sourceof
virtue.'"
The employmentof an exaggerated,exclusivenationalismto regenerate
Turkishsociety resultedin furtherimpedimentsto the mission institutions.
Mission medicalwork was crippledwhen all foreign doctorswho had not
practicedin Turkeypriorto 1914weredeniedlicenses.In an effortto secularize
education,all schools,includingmissioninstitutions,were requiredto suspend
compulsoryreligiousinstructionand exercises.And as a nationalschoolsystem
emergedin the early 1930's,the governmentrequiredthat history,geography
andcivicsbe taughtonlyby Turks,in TurkishandfromTurkishtextbooks,thus
imposingnew expenseson the Americaninstitutionsand dilutingthe influence
of Americanteachersover theirstudents. Furthermore,
as only the well-to-do
could affordto send their childrento these schools,Nationalistsdenounced
them as "class"institutionsharmfulto the growthof Turkishdemocracy."
9. Robert L. Daniel, "The ArmenianQuestion and American-Turkish
Relations, 1914-1927,"
Mississippi Valley HistoricalReview, XLVI (1959), pp. 252-275. Although businessinterestsalso
workedfor ratificationof the Treaty,Barton'srole was the more significant,for the missionaryand
relief groupsof which he was an officerhad been the main sourceof anti-Turkishpropaganda.Barton's
campaignreached those persons who had been exposed most directly to the earlier defamatory
attackson the Turkishcharacter.See John A. DeNovo, AmericanInterestsand Policies in the Middle
East, 1900-1939 (Minneapolis:Universityof MinnesotaPress, 1963), pp. 153-165.
10. Hayat (Ankara) cited in Henry Elisha Allen, The Turkish Transformation:A Study in
Social and Religious Development(Chicago: Universityof ChicagoPress, 1935), p. 160; see also,
DeNovo, AmericanInterestsand Policiesin the MiddleEast,pp. 257-258.
11. Hayat cited in Joseph Grew to FrankKellogg, May 8, 1928, U. S. Departmentof State,
PapersRelatingto the ForeignRelationsof the United States,1928 (3 Vols., Washington,1942-43),
III, 976, 979.

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The Nationalists'goal was to regulate,not destroy,the Americanschools.


When new tax laws in 1930 threatenedthe continuationof the American
institutions,TurkishauthoritiesexemptedAmericanschoolsfrom the tax. In
the most seriousincidentof the periodthe Turksagain exercisedmoderation.
Thus when a devoutmissionteacherpersistedin giving religiousinstruction
in violationof the law, Turkishauthoritiesclosed the school but viewed the
incidentas an isolatedone.'2 Xenophobicnationalismdid not precludenegotiationandcompromise.
The considerabletalentsof successiveAmericandiplomatsat Constantinople,
andparticularly
AdmiralBristolandJosephGrew,were
employedin explainingawayNationalistfearsof Americaninstitutionsand in
maximizingthe areasof cooperation.On occasiona Nationalistofficialwas
willing to affirmthe value of the Americanmissionschoolsto Turkey.'3
Caught between their own lingering distaste for the Turk and the strident nationalismand secularismof the Republic,the missionaryinstitutions
were unable to match their aspirationswith achievements.By 1939 all that
survivedof the AmericanBoard'seducationalwork in Turkeywere tiree
schools,a far cry from the 450 schoolsserving25,000 studentsbeforeWlorld
War I. The medicalwork receiveda similarsetbackwith only one hospital
still officiallyin operationas opposedto nine in 1914. Yet to keep the record
straight,it mustbe emphasizedthatmostof this attritionoccurredpriorto the
proclamationof the Republic. Turkish nationalismand secularismserved
primarilyto inhibitthe reorganization
of the missionenterprisesratherthanto
destroythemoutright.At the sametimethe inabilityof the AmericanBoardto
implementits desireto work with the Turksmade the Americancolleges in
Turkeythe maininstrumentsfor introducingelementsof Americancivilization
to the Turks.'4
RobertCollegeand the Constantinople
Woman'sCollegeexperiencedmany
of the same difficultiesas the AmericanBoardschools,and theirgrowthwas
stuntedby an excess of Republicannationalismand then by the depression.
As non-denominational
institutions,the collegeswereless vulnerableto criticism
than were the missionschools.By the same token their leadershiphad less
difficultyin acceptingthe secularreformsof the Republic.PresidentGates
of RobertCollege took the view that "we shouldget rid of the old mentality
which looked upon the Turks as a decadentpeople." He urged that the
12. Joseph C. Grew, TurbulentEra: A DiplomaticRecord of Forty Years, 1904-1945, ed. by
Walter Johnson (2 Vols., Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1952), pp. 811-814, 853-854; J. Grew to F.
Kellogg, Dec. 24, 1929, U. S. Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the
United States, 1930 (3 Vols., Washington, 1945), III, 873-874; ibid., Apr. 17, 1930, Foreign
Relations, 1930, III, 876-878; ibid., Jul. 25, 1930, Foreign Relations, 1930, III, 879; ibid., Jan. 22,
1928, Foreign Relations, 1928, III, 964-965; ibid., Feb. 8, 1928, Foreign Relations, 1928, III, 970;
ibid., Feb. 1, 1928, Foreign Relations, 1928, III, 966-969.
13. Ibid., May 8, 1928, Foreign Relations, 1928, III, 977.
14. American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Annual Reports, 1923-1939 (Vols.
113-129, Boston: Congregational House, 1923-1939).

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57

Nationalistsbe dealtwith "in franknessand sincerity."


15 Yet Gatesand other
college presidentsof the period,MaryMills Patrick,KathrynNewell Adams,
Paul Monroeand WalterLivingstonWright,found that good intentionswere
not enough.
Repeatedlythe educatorsfound that their efforts to serve the Republic
workedat crosspurposeswith the Nationalists'desireto be self-reliant.Major
effortsto contributein the areaof engineeringandmedicaleducationmiscarried
becausethe Nationalistshad little or no desireto sharethe trainingof much
neededpersonnelin these fieldswith foreigners.For two decadesofficialsof
RobertCollege and the Ministryof PublicInstructionsparredover the status
of the Americanschool.Althoughthe Turkishgovernmentpermittedgraduates
of RobertCollegeto practiceas engineers,it refusedto recognizethe Robert
College diplomaas equal to a universitydegree.'6Evenless were Nationalist
authoritieswilling to allow the Woman'sCollege to continueto conducta
medicalschool,openedin 1920. A half yearafterthe foundingof the Republic
the Kemalistsclosed the medicalschool.17
At otherlevels expressionsof nationalismwere annoyingand debilitating.
The independentcolleges,like the missionschools,were subjectto prohibitions
on religiousinstructionand to regulationsof theircurriculums,
textbooksand
teachingstaff.AlthoughPresidentGatescreditedNationalistleaderswith desiring "a new era of progressand development,"he found frequentchanges
in the personnelof the Ministryof PublicInstructionirksome,as was the
necessityof travelingto Ankara,the new capital.'8Rumorsthat the Ministry
was going to requireteachersto wear uniformsor that it would prohibit
studentsfrom using cosmetics,contributedto the disquiet.Even in the late
1930's College authoritiesfelt harrassedby the ponderousbureaucracy
with
its "multitudinousregulations"and "inquisitionalmethods." The Ministry
of PublicInstructionoften seemedto the Americansmore interestedin providing studentswith "a full panoplyof officialdocumentsall duly signed,
countersigned,numberedand sealed" than in educatingthe students.'9
Without doubt the uncertaintiesproducedby the TurkishWar for Independencein the early1920's,the subsequentexpressionsof xenophobicnationalism and the depressionof the 1930'srestrictedthe programsof the American
colleges. As a result of collective fund-raisingefforts begun in 1920, the
15. Caleb FrankGates, Not To Me Only (Princeton:PrincetonUniversityPress, 1940), pp.
288-290.

16. TurkishofficialsregardedRobertCollege as a lycee althoughit offeredmore work than a


Iyc6e.RobertCollege,Reportof the President,1924-25, pp. 5, 23-24; ibid., 1928-29, p. 1; recordsof
both colleges are at the officesof the Near East College Association,New York City; LynnA. Scipio,
My Thirty Years in Turkey (Rindge: New Hampshire, 1955), p. 226.

17. Mary Mills Patrick, Under Five Sultans (New York: Century, 1929), pp. 331ff. ConstantinopleWoman's College, Bulletin, 1922-23, pp. 44-48; ibid., 1923-24, pp. 24, 47-50.
18. RobertCollege,Reportof the President,1922-23,p. 11.
19. Ibid., 1937-38, p. 6.

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Americancollegeswere enabledto maintainthe level which they had enjoyed


at the outbreakof World War I, but they could not expand. Structuralsteel
to completeRobert'sengineeringbuildinglay on the groundfor two decades
for wantof funds,while a tentativeeffortto foundan agriculturalcollegehad
to be abandonedfor the samereason.Nor can this lackof moneybe attributed
to the unwillingnessof Americansto supporteducationin the Near East,for
Fund,the RockefellerFoundationand
in the early1920'sthe Commonwealth
the LauraSpelmanRockefellerMemorialmade substantialgrants. The bulk
of these funds went to the AmericanUniversityof Beirutwhich enjoyedthe
relativelyplacidenvironmentof Lebanon.20
The depressionforcednumerouseconomieson the colleges.Delaysin routine
maintenanceof facilitiesand the replacementof staffwere for the most part
made necessaryby the
takenin stride.But changesin housing arrangements
shortageof fundsproveddetrimentalto both studentdisciplineand academic
on their
standards.Mostunsettlingto the colleges,with adverserepercussions
efficiency,was the reductionin facultysalaries.At the same time the administrativemergerof the two colleges,adoptedas an economymeasure,preserved,
if it did not raise,the academiclevel of instructionthroughmore efficientuse
of the teachingstaff.2'
of Americanvalueswas also imThe efficacyof the collegesas transmitters
interpreted
pairedbyproblemsof leadership.The Ministryof PublicInstruction
regulationsas a
the resentmentof Americaneducatorstowardthe bureaucratic
manifestationof hostility towardNationalist objectives. They intimatedto
Grewand Sherrilltheirdispleasurewith the lack of vigor of the
Ambassadors
presidentsof both colleges. As a consequenceAmbassadorGrew suggested
tartlyto the Americaneducatorsthat they would do well to regardrelations
with Turkishofficialsless as "a tug of war"and more as a matterof rowing
togetherin a crew.22Withoutquestionthe fault lay on both sides. Yet there
were otherevidencesthat the Americanschoolswere not as well preparedas
the positionof the
theymighthavebeen to pursuetheirtasks. In summarizing
Woman'sCollegein 1939,Dean Burnsconfessedthatfew of the teachingstaff,
includingthosewith tenure,reallyhave "a clearpictureof our relationsto the
educationalsystemof the countryor to the Ministryof Public Instruction."
Few of the faculty,she continued,spokeTurkishor cameinto close touchwith
Turkishpeople,customsor institutions.23
The colleges,nevertheless,found substantialopportunitiesto be of service
20. "Hall Bequest,"Near East College Association,Annual Report,1928-29, n.p.; RobertCollege, Reportof the President,1925-26, p. 8; see also AnnualReportsof the CommonwealthFund, the
RockefellerFoundation,and the LauraSpelmanRockefellerMemorialfor the 1920's.
21. Paul Monroe to Albert Staub,Dec. 1932, in Robert College, President'sReport, 1932-33,
n.p.; ibid., 1934, pp. 24-25; ibid., 1938-39, pp. 7-9; ibid., 1935-36, p. 16; ibid., 1936-37, p. 10.
22. Grew cited in ConstantinopleWoman's College, Annual Report, 1931-32, p. 5.
23. Ibid., 1938-39, p. 3.

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59

in spite of restrictivenationalismand financialand leadershipproblems.College officialswere aware of and sympathetictoward the aspirationsof the
Nationaliststo Westernizetheircountry.Theywereconcernedwiththe methods
employedin achievingtheseobjectivesand with the necessityfor the colleges
to adapt themselvesso as to further,ratherthan to impede, the social and
culturalchangessoughtby Turkey.
In particulartherewas recognitionon behalfof both Turkishand American
leadersthat in the past foreigninstitutions,includingAmericanschools,had
a disturbingculturaleffectby uprootingthe studentfromhis nativesurroundings and in failing to transplanthim to an Americanenvironment,left him
rootless,unableto drawnourishmentfrom eitherworld.24Paul Monroe,the
Presidentof the Americancollegesin the 1930's,spokefeelinglyof the necessity
of nurturingthe growthof nationalfeeling withinthe new statesof the Near
East. The desirablepolicy,he declared,was to adjust"the new educationof
the West to the traditionalsocial structureof the East"in order to create
the basisfor a "unifiednationalisticculture."25
Effortsto be of assistanceto Turkeyfound expressionin a varietyof fields
and in manyinstancesTurkishauthoritiesrespondedwarmlyto the American
ventures.Suchwas certainlythe case whenRobertCollegeinstituteda special
programto trainskilledworkmenand foremento install and maintainpublic
utilityfacilitiesfor local contractors.Enrollmentswere immediatelyfilled;the
Turkishgovernmentitself sponsoringsome of the students. RobertCollege
personnelwere individuallyactive as consultantsto Turkishauthoritiesin
draftingplansfor electriclighting,watersupplyandseweragesystems.Probably
of greatestvalue to Turkeywas Robert'sr6le as the sole sourceof trainingof
electricalandmechanicalengineerswithinthe Republic.28
Effortsto introducethe Turksto Americanconceptsof leisuretime activities
anticipatedand reinforcedthe Nationalists'own interestin promotingWestern
style athleticsand in introducingWestern art and literature. Both of the
colleges undertookintramuralsportsprograms,and RobertCollegeorganized
trackand field meets for secondaryschoolsin the vicinityof Constantinople.
The Woman'sCollegeemployedits facilitiesto acquaintstudentsand friends
with Westernmusicand drama. Concertsrangedfrom Gilbertand Sullivan
to Latin Masses,while the dramaticfare stressedclassicalGreekand French
plays.27
24. MufidieFerid,Pervanelercitedin Allen, TurkishTransformation,
p. 163.
25. Paul Monroe, "MissionEducationand National Policy,"InternationalReview of Missions,
X (1921), pp. 321-350; Paul Monroe, "EducationalSituationin the Near East,"News Bulletin of
the Instituteof InternationalEducation,XII (October, 1936), pp. 4-6 and XII (November,1936),
pp. 4-5.
26. RobertCollege, Report of the President,1920-21, pp. 12-14; ibid., 1924-25, p. 29; ibid.,
1933-34, pp. 2-3.
27. ibid., 1930-31, p. 29; Todford P. Lewis, "Health, Physical Education,and Recreationin

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The colleges also contributedin a varietyof waysto the intellectuallife of


Turkey. Membersof the facultiespreparedtranslationsof Europeanworks,
particularlyin the fields of educationand literature.Perhapsmore important
were cordialexchangesbetweenthe Americanand Turkisheducators.'Turkish
officialsvisited RobertCollege to studyits teachingmethodsand to visit its
laboratories,eventuallymodeling one of their new technicalschools after
Robert'sengineeringcurriculum.Americanofficialswere also consultedin
drafting regulationsfor the Turkish national schools. Another important
mediumof intellectualexchangewas throughthe appointmentof graduates
of bothRobertCollegeandthe Woman'sCollegeto majorfacultyandadministrativepostsin Turkishcollegesanduniversities.28
Withoutquestionthe mostimportantserviceof the collegeswas the training
of leadersfor the Republic.Althoughthe numberof studentswas small by
Americanstandards,for a countrydesperatefor trainedleadersthe contributions of the Americancolleges bulked large. Their importancewas further
underscoredby the high academicstandingachievedby RobertCollege and
by the large proportion-over fifty per cent-of Robert College engineers
whowenton to graduatestudyin theUnitedStates.29
No less significantwas the mannerin which the Woman'sCollege conof women. Of the
tributedto the Nationalists'programfor the emancipation
handful of Turkishwomen who securedan educationprior to the Young
Turk Revolution,Halide Edib, a graduateof the ConstantinopleWoman's
College, emergedas the leading feminist. Flauntingcustomby speakingin
publicand beforemixed audiences,she becamea leadingproponentof social
and politicalreform. She also establishedherself as a leadingnovelist. With
the supportof MustafaKemal she helpedmakethe emancipationof Turkish
women a majortenet of the Republic'sprogramof social reform. In most
the officialpolicy
respectsthe activitiesof the Woman'sCollegecomplemented
of the Republic. The College had espousedfeminism. It providedthe best
facilitiesin Turkeyduringthis periodfor the highereducationof women.As
careersin law, medicine,teachingand public office opened, the Woman's
Collegewas an importantsourceof trainedleadership.To womenessayingthe
role of wife andmother,the Collegeprovidedan enlightenededucation.80
Culturalrelationswith Turkeywere furtherednot only by Americaninstitutions locatedthere,but on the initiativeof Turksdesiringto becomefamiliar
'withAmericanlettersand of governmentagenciesdesiringAmericanadvicein
Lebanonand the Near East." Journal of the AmericanAssociationfor Health, Physical Education
and Recreation,XX (1949), pp. 211-212; ConstantinopleWoman'sCollege, Annual Report, 193031, p. 20; RobertCollege, Reportof the President,1928-29, n.p.
28. Ibid., 1929-30, passim;ibid., 1930-31, pp. 1-2; ibid., 1935-36, p. 2; ibid., 1936-37, p. 4.
29. Ibid., 1935-36, p. 20; ibid., 1938-39, p. 10.
30. Sir HarryLuke,The Old Turkeyandthe New: FromByzantiumto Ankara(London:Geoffrey
Bles, 1955), pp. 207-209;Toynbeeand Kirkwood,Turkey,pp. 254-255.

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61

the fieldsof education,businessand technology.Althoughactivitiesinitiatedby


the Turksavoidedxenophobicobjectionsto Americanpractices,Americanideas
still had to competeagainstentrenchedmodesof thoughtand actionfor scarce
funds.
The high level of illiteracy,the shift fromArabicscriptto a Latinalphabet,
the widespreadpoverty of the masses, the physicalisolation of Anatolian
peasantsand traditionall workedto staythe transmission
of Westernliterature
and the arts to Turkey. While Americanswere contributingto the common
heritagein such fields as drama,architecture,music and painting,the very
newnessof the UnitedStatesdeniedit the prestigewhichaccruedthroughthe
centuriesto the creativeoutputof the Europeans.As Turkeytookits firsttentative steps towardmasteringthe literatureand arts of the West, it was most
influencedby Americanliterature.Throughthe mediumof the newspaperpress
in the 1930'sa few Americannovelswere translatedand serialized.The range
of worksextendedfrom a bad translationof MargaretMitchell'sGone With
the Wind to a well-translated
serializationof EugeneO'Neill'sThe GreatGod
Brown and Mark Twain's HuckleberryFinn. Only a handful of American
books reachedthe Turkishpublic at this time, but the choice was not one
Americansneededto be ashamedof. Sincemost Turksin the 1930'swere still
withoutliteraryhabits,the immediateimpactof Americanliteraturewas small,
butit was of long termsignificancethatTurkey'sliterarytraditionswereshaped
by personsfamiliarwith the Americannovel."
Ironicallywhile Turkish nationalismrequiredexclusive state control of
primaryeducation,the Ministryof Public Instructionwas eager to secure
Americanadvice. The prevailingAmericanprinciplesof educationran head
on into those of Francewhich underlaythe existing Turkishstate schools.
However,it seemedto some Turks that Frenchculturewas "daintyand refined,"ratherthanvirile,and that Turkeyrequiredthe "strengthand creative
activity"which Americacould provide."2Thus one of the first moves of
MustafaKemal was to engage John Dewey of TeachersCollege as a consultanton educationalproblems. The practicalemphasisof his school programs made them seem especiallysuitablefor a nation in need of skilled
workmenand businessmen.Dewey's influencein Turkey, directedlargely
towardelementaryschools,was in favorof a less formalisticcurriculum.
Learning by doing was achievedby the projectmethod,while instructionin music
and art enrichedthe curriculum.Yet therewas a paradoxin the decisionof a
highly centralizedstate such as Turkeyto employan educationalphilosophy
31. Bisbee, The New Turks, pp. 152 ff.; Webster, Turkey of Ataturk, pp. 221 ff.; see also
Carl Brockelmann,History of the Islamic Peoples (London: Routledge& Kegan Paul, 1949), pp.
448-449.
32. Allen, The TurkishTransformation,
pp. 22-23.

62

THE MIDDLEEAST JOURNAL

so permissiveand democratic.The impactwas to give Turkey'sschoolsmore


flexibility,butnot to unseatthe Frenchsystem.33
The sectorof Americanculturefromwhichthe Nationalistsweremost eager
to borrowwas the materialisticone, technology. The Kemalistsappreciated
that without economicstrength,Turkeywould again become the pawn of
neighboringpowers. As the UnitedStateswas the peerof any Europeanstate
in this sectorof civilization,therewas a basisfor muchinterchangein spite of
the distance.In a bid to speedresourcedevelopment,the Nationalistsresponded
favorablyto the applicationof the American,Colby Chester,for extensive
concessionswhichwould have resultedin the developmentof railways,manufacturing and agriculture.Aside from the obvious economic significance,
Chester'sproposalsheld majorsocialand culturalimplications.Completionof
Turkey'srail networkwas a preconditionof breakingdown the intellectual,
social and culturalisolationof Turkishpeasants. The greaterease of transportationwould exposethem to the freshwinds of change.As it turnedout,
Chesterlackedthe requisitecapitalto undertakehis scheme,therebyleavingthe
peasantbecalmedin his traditionalsociety.34
The grandioseproposalsof Chesterhaving failed, the Turks fell back
on the expedientof importingAmericantechnologyand know-howpiecemeal
duringthe balanceof the 1920'sand muchof the 1930's. Turkishbusinessmen
servingas agents for variousAmericanfirmsintroducedTurkeyto the products of Americanindustry. Subsequentlya few firms establishedplants in
Turkey.35The morecommonchannelby whichAmericantechnologyreached
Turkeywas via Americanexpertsengagedto directspecificprojectsrelating
to public health, transportation,
geology and mining, scientificmanagement
and agriculture.The workwas so variedthat no one projectwas typical.But
especiallynotablewas the missionof Dr. StanleyP. Clark,of the University
of Arizona,who workedfor ten yearsat Adanaon problemsof cottonproduction for the Ministryof Agriculture.Technicallycompetent,willing to get his
handsdirtyand possessingan instinctfor friendship,Clarkwas commendedas
36
a "mostoutstandingexampleof what a technicalassistantcan accomplish."
Again one must reiteratethat much more than the transmissionof technical
knowledgewas entailed,for as the work of the Near East Foundationwas
33. Webster, Turkey of Ataturk,p. 234; John Dewey, "Foreign Schools in Turkey,"New
Republic,XLI (1924-25), pp. 40-42; John Dewey, "Secularizinga Theocracy,"ibid., XL (1924),
69-71; John Dewey, "The Problem of Turkey," ibid., XLI (1924-25), pp. 162-163.
34. Barbara Ward, Turkey (London: Oxford University Press, 1942), p. 83. U. S. Department of State, "History of the Chester Project," Series C., Sec. 52, Turkey, No. 10, State Department Archives, Record Group 59, Washington, D. C. See also, DeNovo, American Interests and

Policies in the Middle East, pp. 225-227.


35. Yalman,Turkeyin My Time, p. 147.
36. GoldthwaiteH. Dorr to Merle Curti, Oct. 23, 1951 in Merle Curtie and Kendall Birr,
Prelude to Point Four: AmericanTechnicalMissions Overseas,1838-1938 (Madison: Universityof
WisconsinPress, 1954), p. 183.

THE UNITED STATESAND THE TURKISH REPUBLIC

63

demonstrating
in Macedoniaduringthesesameyearsand underanalagousconditions,increasedagriculturalproductionwas the prerequisiteto any general
improvementin the levels of the social and culturalwelfare of the rural
Near East.87
The most ambitiousTurkisheffortto enlist Americanknow-howwas manifested in the commissioningof the Hines-Dorr-Kemmerer
team in 1933-34.
This group of expertsfrom the businessand academicworld made separate
reportson railways,resources,education,and bankingand currencyto supplement their majorstudy of the problemsof modernizingTurkey'seconomy.
What degreeof successthe Republicmight have enjoyedhad it followed the
recommendations
of the reportwill never be known. For as the reportwas
submitted,Turkey'senergieswere preemptedby a revivalof Italianimperialism, and the funds requiredto implementthe reportwere allocatedinstead
to preparationfor war.38
In 1939 only a personpossessedwith divine presciencecould foresee the
future, but with the death of MustafaKemal the year before and with the
outbreakof war in Europeit was clear enoughthat majorchangeswould be
forthcoming.The decline of Great Britainand Franceas the political and
economicleaders of Europeand the rapiditywith which the United States
assumedtheir positionled to the proliferationof Americanties with Turkey
duringand afterthe SecondWorldWar.
In retrospectthe 1920's and 1930's were a transitionperiod. Decades of
Americananimositytowardsthe Turks were dissipatedwhile Turkeygrew
in self-confidenceand lost some of its fear of acceptingforeign assistance.
The Americancollegesin Turkey,perseveringagainstthe restraintsof Turkish
nationalism,succeededin revampingthemselvesso as to promotethe goals
the Nationalistshad set for Turkey. In areas of education,feminismand
technologythe Americansmateriallyassistedthe TurkishRepublicthroughits
own difficultyears.It was no accidentthatwhen IsmetIn6ni left the Premiershipin 1937 at the age of 53, he took up tie studyof English,nor that Adnan
Mendereswho becamePremierin 1950 had been educatedin the American
schools. By 1939 the way was clearfor a muchbroaderand deeperAmerican
culturalpenetrationof Turkeyin the 1940'sand 1950's.
37. RobertDaniel, "PioneeringPoint Four,"AgriculturalHistory,XXIX (1955), pp. 122-126.
38. Curtiand Birr,Preludeto Point Four, pp. 185-186.