Muhammad Amin 'Alí Páshá was born in Istanbul in February 1815, the son of a shopkeeper. Because he had acquired a knowledge of French, he was able to obtain a post in the translation bureau of the Ottoman government in 1833. He was sent on several foreign missions and was the Turkish Counsellor in London, 1838-9. In 1840, he became Minister of Foreign Affairs for a short time and returned to this position in 1846 under Rashid Páshá. In 1852 he became Grand Vizier for a few months and then, in 1854, he was again appointed Foreign Minister and, in 1855, Grand Vizier (until the following year). He continued in high office for most of the rest of his life, being Foreign Minister in 1857-8, July 1861 and November 1861 to 1867, and Grand Vizier in 1858-9, 1861 and 1867-71. After Fu'ád Páshá's death in 1869, he combined the posts of Foreign Minister and Grand Vizier. He was a successful diplomat and one of a small group of Turkish statesmen determined to steer Turkey into the nineteenth century, but he tended to be authoritarian and overbearing in his personal manner. He died on 7 September 1871 after three months of illness.
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