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On the Occasion of the 106th Anniversary of Iran's Constitutional RevolutionFirouzeh Mirrazavi for Salem-News.com
"The only difference between me and these people is my place of birth, and this is not a big difference." - Howard Conklin Baskerville
(TEHRAN) - Howard Conklin Baskerville (April 10, 1885 – April 19, 1909) was an American teacher in the Presbyterian mission school in Tabriz, Iran, who died fighting for Iranian democracy. He has been called the "American Lafayette in Iran." (J. Lorentz)
Baskerville was born in North Platte, Nebraska, and was raised in the Black Hills. Both his father and grandfather were Presbyterian ministers.
He was graduated in 1907 from Princeton University, where in addition to studying religion and boxing, he took two courses with Woodrow Wilson (Jurisprudence and Constitutional Government).
In the fall of 1907 Baskerville came to Iran as a missionary. He took a position in the American Memorial School, a missionary school, in Tabriz.
There he taught English, history, and geometry to mixed classes of boys and girls, and also served as tennis coach and riding instructor. He directed a student production of The Merchant of Venice.
In the spring of 1909, during the Constitutional Revolution of Iran, he decided to raise a volunteer force to defend constitutional democracy.
Despite attempts to discourage him by the American consul in Tabriz, Edward Doty, he led about a hundred volunteers attempting to help defend the besieged city against Qajar royalist troops fighting for Mohammad Ali Shah.
Baskerville was shot and killed by a sniper while leading a group of student soldiers to break the siege. He was 24-years old.
He has been quoted as saying, "The only difference between me and these people is my place of birth, and this is not a big difference."
Baskerville's funeral was attended by thousands, where he was eulogized by Iranian patriots. He was buried in the Christian Armenian cemetery in Tabriz.
Tabriz fell to the besiegers five days after Baskerville's death.
Many Iranian nationalists revere Baskerville. Schools and streets in Iran have been named for him. Tourists and ordinary people can visit his grave freely.
A "mysterious admirer" is reported "regularly" to place "yellow roses" on his grave.
There is a bust of him in Tabriz's Constitution House bearing the legend "Howard C. Baskerville—Patriot and Maker of History."
A Persian carpet with his picture woven on it was made by the carpet weavers of Tabriz and meant to be sent to Baskerville's mother in America (but was never sent) in recognition of his courage and sacrifice.
Iranian Constitutional Revolution
The Persian Constitutional Revolution or Iranian Constitutional Revolution(also known as the Constitutional Revolution of Iran) took place between 1905 and 1907. The revolution led to the establishment of a parliament in Persia (Iran).
The Persian Constitutional Revolution was the first event of its kind in Asia. The Revolution opened the way for cataclysmic change in Persia, heralding the modern era. It saw a period of unprecedented debate in a burgeoning press.
The revolution created new opportunities and opened up seemingly boundless possibilities for Persia’s future. Many different groups fought to shape the course of the Revolution, and all sections of society were ultimately to be in some way changed by it.
The old order, which Nasser-al-Din Shah Qajar had struggled for so long to sustain, finally died, to be replaced by new institutions, new forms of expression, and a new social and political order.
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Firouzeh Mirrazavi is the Deputy Editor for Iran Review.Org iranreview.org in Tehran, Iran.
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