The Treaty of Commerce and Navigations (signed in 1856) was the first diplomatic interaction the United States and Persia had. The treaty lasted until 1928. Because U.S. had little interest in Persian affairs but the Persians sought advisers from the United States to administer its finances in 1911. The advisers accomplished little, but the reputation of the U.S. as a trustworthy outsider did not suffer. The Persians again sought the U.S. for help in straightening out its finaces after World War I. This mission unlike the last was opposed by powerful vested interests and eventually it was withdrawn with its task uncompleted. Following this there was no special U.S. concern with Iran or any interaction until World War II.
Political relations between Persia and the United States began when the Shah of Persia, Nassereddin Shah Qajar, officially dispatched Persia's first ambassador, Mirza Abolhasan Shirazi, to Washington D.C. in 1856." In 1883, Samuel Benjamin was appointed by the United States as the first official diplomatic envoy to Iran, however; Ambassadorial relations were not established until 1944.
The first Persian Ambassador to the United States of America was Mirza Albohassan Khan Ilchi Kabir. Americans had been traveling to Iran since the early-to-mid 1880s, even before political relations existed between the two. Justin Perkins and Asahel Grant were the first missionaries to be dispatched to Persia in 1834 via the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
Amir Kabir, Prime Minister under Nasereddin Shah, also initiated direct contacts with the American government in Washington. By the end of the 19th century, negotiations were underway for an American company to establish a railway system from the Persian Gulf to Tehran.
Until World War II, relations between Iran and the United States remained cordial. As a result, many Iranians sympathetic to the Persian Constitutional Revolution came to view the U.S. as a "third force" in their struggle to break free of British and Russian dominance in Persian affairs. American industrial and business leaders were supportive of Persia's drive to modernize its economy and free itself from British and Russian influence.
The U.S. Consulate at Arg e Tabriz sits in the line of fire during the Iranian Constitutional Revolution. While the city was being attacked and bombed by 4,000 Russian troops in December 1911, some Americans, like Howard Baskerville, took to arms, helping the people of Iran.
Americans wearing jobbeh va kolah (traditional Persian clothes) at the opening of The Majles, January 29, 1924. Mr. McCaskey, Dr. Arthur Millspaugh, and Colonel MacCormack are seen in the photo.
Morgan Shuster and US officials at Atabak Palace, Tehran, 1911. Their group was appointed by Iran's parliament to reform and modernize Iran's Department of Treasury and Finances.
McCormick Hall, American College of Tehran, circa 1930, chartered by the State University of New York in 1932. Americans also founded Iran's first modern College of Medicine in the 1870s.
Joseph Plumb Cochran, American Presbyterian missionary. He is credited as the founder of Iran's first modern Medical School.
American Memorial School in Tabriz, established in 1881.
In 1909, during the Persian Constitutional Revolution, Howard Baskerville, an American, died in Tabriz while trying to help the constitutionalists in a battle against royalist forces. After the Iranian parliament appointed American financial consultant Morgan Shuster as appointed Treasurer General of Persia in 1911, an American was killed in Tehran by henchmen thought to be affiliated with Russian or British interests. Shuster became even more active in supporting the Constitutional revolution of Persia financially. When Iran's government ordered Shu'a al-Saltaneh (شعاع السلطنه), the Shah's brother who was aligned with the goals of Imperial Russia in Persia, to surrender his assets, Shuster moved to execute the seizure. Imperial Russia immediately landed troops in Bandar Anzali, demanding a recourse and apology from the Persian government. Russia's General Liakhoff shelled Iran's parliament in Tehran, and Morgan Shuster was forced to resign under British and Russian pressure. Shuster's book The Strangling of Persia is a recount of the details of these events and is critical of Britain and Imperial Russia.
The American Embassy first reported to the Iran desk at the Foreign Office in London about the popular view of Britain's involvement in the 1921 coup that brought Reza Shah to power. A British Embassy report from 1932 admits that the British put Reza Shah "on the throne". At that time, Persia did not view the United States as an ally of Britain.
Morgan Shuster was soon followed by Arthur Millspaugh, who was appointed Treasurer General by Reza Shah, and Arthur Pope, who was a main driving force behind the Persian Empire revivalist policies of Reza Shah. The friendly relations between the United States and Iran lasted until the 1950s.
Read more about this topic: Iran–United States Relations
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