In the Name of God, Civilization, and Humanity: The United States and the Armenian Massacres of the 1890s

By Ann Marie Wilson

This article examines the American response to the Armenian massacres of 1894-1896, emphasizing the diverse and often competing impulses that went into the making of a humanitarian cause célèbre. Drawing on the letters and public statements of American missionaries, Armenian immigrants, and liberal reformers, it shows how these three groups shaped American public opinion about a distant political crisis, and highlights the religious and nationalist agendas that inspired – but also threatened to undermine – a wide-ranging international relief effort in the Ottoman Empire. The article also looks to Congress in order to discover how efforts to rescue “suffering Armenians” lent legitimacy to other American diplomatic interventions of the same period.


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