Howard C. Baskerville

The map in the image shown above is a scan from the inside cover of Edward G. Browne's book, The Persian Revolution, 1905-1909. The portrait of Howard C. Baskerville is from 

"I hate the indifferent. I believe that living means taking sides. Those who really live cannot help being a citizen and a partisan. Indifference and apathy are parasitism, perversion, not life. That is why I hate the indifferent...I am a partisan, I am alive, I feel the pulse of the activity of the future city that those on my side are building is alive in their conscience. And in it, the social chain does not rest on a few; nothing of what happens is a matter of luck, nor the product of fate, but the intelligent work of citizens." - Antonio Gramsci
Introduction
The inspiration for this project came while sitting in one of the last lectures for the class NES 212. When in the midst of a discussion on the image of Iran and the presence of Iranians in the United States, the historical figure of Howard C. Baskerville (1885-1909) caught my eye. The thought that, just over a hundred years ago, a young man who also attended Princeton found himself participating in a war on the other side of the world--fighting on the side of Persian constitutionalists, no less--piqued my interest. 

With these personal motivations in mind, this digital exhibition has a two primary objectives. 

First and most importantly, the digital exhibition--featuring snippets from newspapers, archived texts, and photographs--is meant to educate those who who may not know anything about Howard Baskerville. Surprisingly--and rather unfortunately--there no singular resource that provides an in-depth, nuanced look at Howard Baskerville's character, life, and ultimate historical significance. A preliminary Google search shows that there is a Wikipedia page with a list of some potentially relevant resources, yet the bare outline of Baskerville's life does little to illuminate the man's disposition, motivations, and lived experiences. This digital exhibition attempts to, in at least a small way, fill this need. 

The second motivation behind this digital exhibition is to stress the respect and honor owed to Howard Baskerville by his alma mater Princeton University, especially as an institution whose informal motto is: "In the Nation's Service and in the Service of Humanity" (previously "...in the Service of All Nations.") He is an apt example of an alumnus who lived up to the university's present-day informal motto, by translating his personal values into action in the fight to ensure the political enfranchisement and self-determination of people on the other side of the world. Although a trip to Baskerville's grave was described in a May 2007 article in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, many more current Princeton students should be taught about the footsteps in which they now follow.   

Who was Howard C. Baskerville? 
How did an otherwise unassuming young man from the middle of turn-of-the-century America, educated in the hallowed halls of one of U.S.' premier educational institutions, find himself in the crossfire of a national conflict in present-day northwest Iran? What aspects of his character endowed him with the capacity, strength, and courage to take to arms for that in which he believed? 

Howard Conklin Baskerville was born in Indiana on April 10, 1885. The few insights into Baskerville's character that are available were given posthumously. For example, in an article published on April 21, 1909 in the The Hartford Courant, Baskerville's mother reportedly said that her son had always had an "adventurous disposition." This textual evidence suggests that Howard Baskerville had the personal qualities that endowed him with the capacity to ignite change in the world. 

 
While at Princeton, religion was his primary academic focus. In addition to his religious studies, a took a few politics classes that are said to have been formative to the development of his political sensibilities. According to a Politico Magazine article, "Iran's Favorite Midwesterner," he was a politics student of Woodrow Wilson when he was a professor of the university. 

A note card dating from his time at Princeton, courtesy of the Princeton University Archives: 

 
What did he do in Iran? 
Upon graduating from Princeton University in 1907, Baskerville traveled to Iran to teach at the American Memorial School in Tabriz. 

Although Baskerville may not have gone to Iran with the intention of becoming involved in the conflict, circumstances changed once he formed connections with his students and learned about their situation. 

The following is an excerpt from the second and third pages of a commemorative speech given in September 1950 by S.R. Shafaq, courtesy of the Princeton University Archives: 


Baskerville was a man of action.  He was an individual who acted--not out of an attempt for glory--but instead, out of a sense of obligation to the plight of his fellow men who simply wanted to fight for their political representation and self-determination. 


The following is an excerpt from Edward G. Browne's Persian Revolution: 1905-1909:  
He was killed, in large part, because he chose to forego the potential for protection by American forces by choosing to side with Iranian Constitutionalists.  


There were numerous accounts detailing the circumstances of Baskerville's death.

The following is an excerpt from a commemorative speech given by S.R. Shafaq, courtesy of the Princeton University Archives. Baskerville is detailed having led his troops out to battle and being one of the casualties lost in the process:
 
One of these accounts was from an article published on June 13, 1909, in the St. Louis Post, courtesy of ProQuest

Unsurprisingly, Iranians consider Howard Baskerville a hero, as demonstrated in the following picture, taken from an article detailing the history of the American Memorial School in Tabriz on the website shahrefarang.com:  

Responses from the American Media
The following headlines show how Baskerville was portrayed as a martyr and hero to the American public through various newspaper articles, the majority of which were published on April 21, 1909, just two days after his death. All of the following articles were found on ProQuest, the historical newspaper resource. 

From The Washington Post, April 21, 1909 

From The Hartford Courant, April 21, 1909 

From The Baltimore Sun, April 21, 1909 

From the St. Louis Post - Dispatch, June 13, 1909 



American Responses Beyond the Media 
The Princeton University records on Howard C. Baskerville include a document detailing a statement given by the Ambassador of the U.S., Edward T. Wailes at a memorial celebration in Tabriz on April 19, 1959: 



Some Closing Remarks 
The following is an excerpt from a commemorative speech given by S.R. Shafaq, courtesy of the Princeton University Archives. This excerpt, fittingly enough, includes a reference to the great Persian poet Hafiz: 

The case of Howard C. Baskerville demonstrates a kind of duality between American foreign policy and media receptions of international political affairs. Baskerville may have been portrayed as a martyr in the American press, yet he had already been warned by the American Consul that he would be foregoing American protection if he should choose to participate on the side of the Iranian nationalists. These nationalists, who were, in many ways, fighting for the very values--the rule of law, constitutionalism, liberalism--the United States purportedly promotes.  

References 
*Quote by Antonio Gramsci, from the February 1917 issue of La Città Futura* 
“American Killed in Persia: Had Cast His Lot With the Revolutionists.” The Baltimore Sun, April 21, 1909.
“American Teacher Killed in Persia: H. C. Baskerville Was Aiding Cause of Revolutionists.” The Hartford Courant, April 21, 1909.
Baskerville, Howard Conklin; 1907; Undergraduate Alumni Records, 1900-1920, Box 329; Princeton University Archives, Department of Rare 
    Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.
Bernstein, Mark F. “An American Hero in Iran.” Princeton Alumni Weekly, May 9, 2007.
Browne, Edward G. The Persian Revolution 1905-1909. Edited by Abbas Amanat. New. Mage Publishers, 1910.
Ekbal, K. “Baskerville, Howard C.” Encyclopedia Iranica, December 15, 1988.
“Gallant Young American Dies a Persian Hero.” St. Louis Post - Dispatch, June 13, 1909.
Kasravi, Ahmad. History of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution (Tarikh-E Mashrute-Ye Iran). Translated by Evan Siegel. Vol. II and III. Three vols. Mazda Publishers, 2015.
Kinzer, Stephen. “Iran’s Favorite Midwesterner: How the Long-Forgotten Story of a Minister’s Son from Nebraska Could Remind Tehran and Washington of a Common Heritage.” Politico Magazine, July 18, 2015.
"Tabriz Memorial Highschool." Shahre Farang. shahrefarang.com/en/ (May 10, 2018). 
Tejirian, Eleanor H., and Simon S. Reeva. Conflict, Conquest, and Conversion: Two Thousand Years of Christian Missions in the Middle East
    Columbia UP, 2012.




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May 14, 2018, 4:58 PM
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