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Minister to Turkey

James Burrill Angell
The Michigan Alumnus 167-170


When, in the middle of April, the news that the President
 of the United States had appointed President Angell minister 
to Turkey was made public, a feeling took possession of the 
alumni and students of the University of Michigan which 
would be hard to analyze. While all joined with one accord in
 hearty approval of a wise choice; yet even the feeling of approval
 was tinged with a touch of jealousy. To spare the service and 
presence even for a year of one so universally loved and hon
ored cannot be contemplated dispassionately. To those who 
have been in the habit of meeting Dr. Angell in his daily walks
 upon the campus, the thought of his going is especially keen—
they least of any realize that he is past the middle of life, and 
it would be hard to convince them that he is not now in the 
prime of a rich and useful manhood, with many years yet ahead. 
 Indeed his selection by the Administration to fill a post of such
 magnitude and importance as the mission to Turkey at the 
present time, proves that others—those at the head of affairs—
are of the same opinion. Considering these things it is not 
strange that our feelings are varied; that, while we regret, we 
bow to the inevitable and wish our beloved President good-luck 
and God-speed upon his new work and mission. 

The life of President Angell is too well known to most of
 the readers of The Alumnus for us to repeat it at length at this 
time; but it will, without doubt, be of interest if we review some 
of the leading features, especially those touching his diplomatic 
career. In this we will quote freely from a sketch prepared by Dean Martin L. D'Ooge and printed in the Palladium issued 
by the Class of '90.

"James Burrill Angell was born in the town of Scituate, 
 Rhode Island, January 7, 1829. He is a descendant of Thomas 
Angell, who went from Massachusetts to Rhode Island with 
Roger Williams who was then 'seeking a shelter for persons
 distressed for conscience.' His early education was obtained 
in the schools of his native town, and later he attended the aca
demies of Seekonk, Mass., and of North Scituate, R. I. His 
preparation for college was completed in the University Gram
mar School of Providence."

In 1846, Mr. Angell entered Brown University and was
 graduated in 1849. After several years spent in study and 
travel in Europe, he accepted the chair of modern languages at
 Brown University, which position he held for six years. From 
1860 to 1866 he distinguished himself as editor of The Provi
dence Journal, which position he resigned to accept the Presi
dency of the University of Vermont.

In June 1871, Dr. Angell delivered his Inaugural address 
in Ann Arbor, having accepted the Presidency of the Univer
sity of Michigan. "The reception of the President was enthu
siastic. The entire University soon felt the influence of his 
kind but firm hand at the helm. During the administration of 
Dr. Angell the University has grown steadily in reputation
 abroad and in favor with the people of this State. Several new
 departments have been created, among which may be named the
 Homoeopathic Medical School, the College of Dental Surgery 
the School of Pharmacy, the Hygienic Laboratory, while also 
there have been established courses in Mechanical, Mining, and
 Electrical Engineering. The elective system, the courses of 
graduate study, and the relation of the University to the public 
schools of this and of other States have been wisely fostered.

"The well-known modesty of President Angell would forbid 
him to claim even his due share of credit for all this growth and 
for the great progress the University has made during his ad
ministration. It is characteristic of him to allow others their full part and credit in the planning and doing, but with tactful 
and unobtrusive hand to guide affairs to their best possible 
issue. As an executive officer he is most scrupulous to see that
 all plans committed to his care are faithfully carried out, even 
such as may have been adopted contrary to his own best judgment.

"His conspicuous ability and service in the cause of educa
tion have been honorably recognized by his Alma Mater, which
 in 1868 conferred upon him the degree of LL. D. 

"Few men keep themselves so thoroughly informed as he 
upon topics of current interest. As a writer upon questions of 
international law his name is known on both sides of the Atlan
tic. It was a well-merited compliment as well as a sagacious
s election, when President Hayes appointed him in 1880
 as Minister Plenipotentiary to China, to negotiate a revision of 
the Burlingame treaty. Perhaps never before was there so 
large a draft upon his diplomatic skill as in this embassy. 
Within sixty days after his introduction to the Court of the
 Celestial Empire, Dr. Angell secured a satisfactory revision of 
the old treaty, and an important commercial treaty regulating 
the importation of opium into the United States.

"A second time our government charged him with a deli
cate question of diplomacy. He was appointed in 1888 by Pre
sident Cleveland as a member of the Commission to negotiate a 
new treaty with Great Britain for the settlement of the fisheries
 disputes with Canada." In this Commission he was associated
 with Secretary Bayard and Hon. W. L. Putnam. A recent
 number of the New York Post recalls the vehement assault 
made by Senators Hoar and Frye on Secretary Bayard for sug
gesting Dr. Angell and Mr. Putnam to the President; nor did 
they hesitate to criticize the President for adopting his sugges
tions. Senator Hoar was especially severe upon the choice of 
men so lacking in "special ability." After dwelling on the
 incident at some length the Post concludes:

"The Dr. Angell whose nomination caused such a commo
tion in the breasts of the two New England senators in 1888 is the same Dr. Angell whom President McKinley named the 
other day for the most difficult mission on our diplomatic list—
the one requiring the utmost delicacy and skill in playing upon
 the chords of human motive, as well as the best general knowl
edge of American treaty rights and international law. Yet the
 nomination was promptly confirmed, and not a word of protest 
was heard from either of the senators mentioned."