Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Elena Frangakis-Syrett

Committee Members

Joshua Freeman

Simon Davis

Mandana Limbert

Dina Le Gall

Subject Categories

Diplomatic History | Islamic World and Near East History


U.S. Foreign Service, Ottoman Empire, Licorice, Dates, Infrastructure, Crime


This dissertation investigates underutilized U.S. archival sources in order to discuss certain aspects of late Ottoman history in Baghdad and Basra, between 1894 and 1914. Since these sources have been underutilized, their inclusion will widen the scope of possible historical investigation in the study of Late Ottoman Baghdad and Basra. This research will suggest that, in this period, there was an expanding role/presence for America and Americans that is not currently reflected in the historiography. This should, of course, be qualified since Americans and American interests in the region, although on the increase, were still significantly less than those of other nations. However, as the global economy expanded, the U.S. imported increasing amounts of raw materials from the Ottoman Empire. Due to the same economic forces, U.S. investors also began to see Baghdad and Basra as possible sites for significant financial investment and development in infrastructure projects. These infrastructure projects are examined in the dissertation as are American trade with the Ottoman State and the role of the U.S. Department of State in fostering and expanding these economic activities. Crimes committed by and against Americans are also investigated as both instances of economic activity and of conflict and cooperation. This study seeks to augment established points on a variety of issues concerning the Ottoman Empire. These issues include the degree to which the Ottoman Empire was centralizing, and the implementation of some of the 19th century, Tanzimat era reforms during the early 20th century. Finally, this dissertation discusses the role of inter-imperial competition in Ottoman Iraq. The Ottoman State was able to, in line with existing literature, profit from and exploit inter-imperial competition. Negotiations over large scale infrastructure projects showed the Ottomans as savvy negotiators, able and willing to use one Western group against another. Likewise, Westerners and in particular, Americans worked with and against each other and Ottomans within the Ottoman Empire and economy. The conflicts and cooperation that occurred between among Western and Ottoman economic agents is examined, particularly as it relates to the licorice trade, the date trade, criminal activity and infrastructure. Methodologically, this dissertation uses archival sources to examine historical economic activities. These economic activities are framed as being examples of conflict and cooperation. By examining conflict and cooperation carefully, this dissertation focuses on the underlying historical relationships between economic interests.