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TAGS: Nasirid-Din Shah; Nasirid-Din Shah, Attempt on; Newspaper articles; Qajar dynasty; Shahs
LOCATIONS: Iran (documents); United States (documents)
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Five brief newspaper reports, among the earliest known references to the Báb in an American publication.

Babi Attempt on the Life of the Shah, 1852:
Coverage in the New York Times

by New York Times

compiled by Ralph D. Wagner
published in New York Times
  1. "Persia," 22 Oct. 1852
  2. "Persia," 28 Oct. 1852
  3. "From the Levant," 2 Nov. 1852
  4. "The Attempted Regicide in Persia," 8 Nov. 1852
  5. "The Levant," 16 Nov. 1852

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1. New York Times, 22 October 1852, page 6


Letters from Tauris, of Aug. 28, bring the news of an attempt to assassinate the Shah of Persia. While he was hunting four men approached him under the pretence of presenting a petition, which he refused to accept. Two of the men then seized his horse by the bridle, while the others discharged two double-barrelled pistols at the Shah, who received three shots, in the thigh and in the mouth. He was able, however, to keep his assailants at bay until his suite came up, by whom two of the assailants were literally cut to pieces, while the other two were taken alive. They stated that they had no accomplices, but they belonged to the order of Babis, and had sworn to avenge their Chief, who perished some time since[.] At last accounts the Shah was expected to recover, and two of the bullets had been extracted.

Cholera is making terrible ravages in Persia.

2. New York Times, 28 October 1852, page 6


We learn by letters from Constantinople, that in consequence of a rumor that the Shah had been assassinated, (an account of which has already appeared in the Times,) the Curds, and other mountain tribes, were in open insurrection. It is added, that the Shah is fast recovering from his wounds, and intends to appear in public in Teheran as soon as possible.

We gather the following particulars of the affair:

HAJEE SULEIMAN KHAN, accused as the instigator of the crime, was seized, his body carefully drilled with a knife in parts which would not at the moment cause death; pieces of lighted candles were then introduced into the holes, and, thus illuminated, carried in procession through the bazaar, and finally conveyed to the town gates, and then cleft in twain, like a fat ram. The KURRET-IL-AIN, better known as Bab’s Lieutenant, or the Fair Prophetess of Kazoeen, who, since the late religious outbreak had been kept a close prisoner at the capital, has been executed, with some dozen others. His Majesty received three slug wounds in the shoulders, but all of a very slight nature.

3. New York Times, 2 November 1852, page 2


Attempt to Kill the Shah of Persia — Cholera in Ooromiah — American Trade with Smyrna — Turkish Slave in Austria — Railroads to Euphrates.

Correspondence of the New-York Daily Times.

CONSTANTINOPLE, Saturday, Sept. 25, 1852.

Letters from Persia dated Aug. 28, speak of a miraculous escape of the Shah from an attempt against his life, by four persons belonging to the fanatical religious sect of Babis. He was out hinting, and according to etiquette, his attendants remained at a respectful distance; suddenly four men held up petitions for him to receive, and when the Shah stopped his horse to read them, two of them seized his horse’s bridle, and the other two fired their pistols at him. The Shah was wounded, but not mortally. Two of the men were cut to pieces on the spot by the enraged attendants. The other two, who only lost their hands, confessed that they wished to avenge the death of their chief, who had been executed by order of the sovereign.

About the same time, the Turkish Ambassador to Persia, on his way to Teheran, was attacked by brigands, who robbed him and his suite of everything they possessed. To obtain the robbers and their plunder, the Shah sent out a whole regiment from Teheran, and no wonder that they were successful in their enterprise. This Ambassador, Ahmed Effendi, is a veritable polyglott, equally fluent in speaking the European as the Oriental languages.

The cholera is occasioning the greatest alarm in Persia. The ravages at the last dates were chiefly in the district of Ooromiah, where several American families reside....

4. New York Times, 8 November 1852, page 6

The Attempted Regicide in Persia.

A Mahommedan gentleman, resident in London, furnishes the following elucidation on the latest news from Persia:

["]A person of the name of MOOLAH SADIQUE, dwelling at Sheeraz, made a public declaration in the year of the Hegira, 1255, corresponding with the Christian era 1839, a prophet would make his appearance, and that his name would be BAUB, which signifies that all the knowledge and sanctity of prophecy would be possessed by him; that his mission would nullify all the modes of faith set forth by the ancient prophets, and that the whole world would embrace his religion. He further announced that BAUB would receive a heavenly book, and that all the treasures of the world, both what was already discovered, and what was yet hidden in the bowels of the earth, would be put into his possession.

"Shortly after this announcement, he declared himself to be the prophesied BAUB, provided a book which he called Heavenly, and obtained several followers, chiefly from amongst the ignorant and uneducated class of people. On hearing of this, MAHOMED SHAH, of blessed memory, King of Persia, ordered the most learned men of his time to examine into and decide upon the matter. An investigation accordingly took place, and the result was that MOOLAH SADIQUE, calling himself the BAUB, was found to be an impostor and a false prophet, and, as such, was sentenced by his judges to be beheaded. His Majesty, the late King of Persia, would not, however, consent to the extreme penalty of the law being executed; but spared the life of the offender, on condition of his destroying his pretended ‘Heavenly Book’ and making a public declaration of his repentance.

"On the decease, however, of the late King, and the accession of his present Majesty to the throne of Persia, the old King being now dead, the time for his prophetic mission had arrived. He accordingly sent letters in every direction within the limits of Persia; despatched an agent to the city of Astrabad, to foment disturbances there; and having assembled round his own person a band of between three and four thousand infatuated and desperate followers, he straightway began to enforce his new doctrines by means of fire and sword. Whoever refused to embrace his religion was sentenced to be burnt in his own house, together with his family, and in this manner several thousand persons were barbarously murdered. A body of these fanatics, about the same time, made an attack upon the uncle of the present King of Persia, but he succeeded in effecting his escape — while a younger brother, who was so unfortunate as to fall into their hands, was burnt alive, according to their custom.

"As this fanatic rebellion appeared to be gaining strength, a body of the royal troops were now marched from the frontiers of Mazindran and Astrabad, for the purpose of checking it. Every effort was made, by way of exhortation, by the royal commanders to induce the rebels to return to their duty, but to no purpose. The infatuated men were resolved on enforcing their principle, and regaining power by bloodshed and rapine. A sanguinary encounter took place between them and the royal troops, in which not less than four thousand fell on both sides. Among the few of the rebels, who were made prisoners, was the viceregent or principal agent of the impostor; but even him the King did not put to death, but sentenced him, with eleven other desperate fanatics, to be imprisoned for life.

"Some time after this, in the country of Zunjaun, near Teheran, MOOLAH MAHOMED ULLY, a leader of the fanatics, raised the standard of rebellion, expelled the Governor of that place, took forcible possession of the magazine and artillery, and, for nine months maintained himself in a state of hostility to the royal authority, and did great injury in that part of the country. At length, after about four thousand of the royal troops had fallen, in the endeavor to suppress this this [sic] outbreak, the fanatic leader, MOOLAH MAHOMED ULLY, having been killed, the rebels were worsted and dispersed.

"Upon this a representation was made to the King of Persia on behalf of the great body of the people, showing that as the most learned Mahommedans had proved the Baub to be an impostor and sentenced him to death, it was necessary that the sentence should be enforced seeing that as long as he should be permitted to live, the peaceable inhabitants of the country would be in constant danger from the outbreak of his fanatical followers. On this representation, and by the advice and recommendation of the chief men of the kingdom, his Majesty ordered him to be beheaded. The freedom from seditious fanaticism that the kingdom of Persia enjoyed for upwards of two years, may be fairly cited in proof of the salutary effect of this decision.

"From the private letters of friends, as well as the public intelligence from Persia, I am informed that a person named HANJEE SOOLAIMAN KHAN, who was one of the Baubs [i.e. Baubis (?)], or followers of the Baub, had formed a design to kill his Majesty the king of Persia, persuading his adherents and abetters that he was then to assume the Empire as prophet. This was the man who attempted the life of the King, and who was put to death for the crime."

5. New York Times, 16 November 1852, page 6


....The Semaphor de Marseilles of the 26th ult. [i.e. October] contains a letter from Tabrez of the 27th of Sept., received via Trebizonde. It stated that upwards of 400 Babis were put to death at Teheran, as accomplices in the recent attempt against the life of the Shah of Persia. The execution took place with a formidable military display. The unhappy sufferers were all tortured in the most cruel manner. The Shah is said to have been seriously affected by that attempt at assassination. An infernal machine, composed of twelve large gun barrels, has been seized in the bazaar of Tabriz. It was not known, however, for what object it had been constructed. The most contradictory suppositions circulated through the city, and the authorities were in search of the authors of that engine of death, which was intended, no doubt, to serve for the perpetration of some criminal act. The trade of Persia had been greatly checked by a new ordinance of the Persian Government. Merchants were forbidden hereafter to sell the smallest article to any of the civil or military officers of the State, and as the latter generally form the principal class of the population who purchase colonial goods — tea, arms, crystal, hardware, &c. — trade suddenly came to a standstill, and was not considered likely to recover the shock for some time. The British Commissary for the determination of the boundary between Turkey and Persia, Major WILLIAMS, arrived at Trebizonde on the 6th ult. [i.e. October], and was to embark for Constantinople at the expiration of his quarantine. The Persian Commissary, MIRZA DJAFFER-KHAN, had parted with the other Commissaries at Bayasid, to repair to Teheran. The Russian Commissary, after a short excursion to Teflis, on his return from Erzeroum, had left for Trebizonde....

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