(Persia Digest) – Upon entering the Assyrian resting place in Tabriz, a foreign name engraved on a tombstone is a reminder of its owner’s brave fight during Iran’s Constitutional Revolution of over a century ago.
This is the name of a man who came to Tabriz from his native America to teach history, but was able to make history and record his name as a martyr of the Constitutional Revolution.
Howard Conklin Baskerville (1885-1909) was given permission to stay in Iran for only two years. But his love of mankind and liberty kept him on Iranian soil and in their hearts, immortalizing this young, freedom fighter with a statue in the Tabriz House of Constitution.
Howard Baskerville portrait at the Constitution Museum in Tabriz, painted in 1956
When there is talk of the Tabriz siege and the constitutionalists during the short, tyrannical rule of Mohammad-Ali Shah, Baskerville’s good name is always mentioned – a man who sacrificed his life to break the siege.
Baskerville was an exceptional man who became involved in the internal politics of another country to show freedom and humanity to the world. He came to the rescue of great constitutionalists like Sattar Khan, to break the Shah’s siege of Tabriz which was starving its population and show that differences in nationality and faith can cross boundaries so people can live together in peace and change the world.
Baskerville captured the hearts and minds of the Iranian nation, so much so that he was given such a grand burial by the commanders, freedom fighters, and people of Tabriz after his martyrdom that many of the foreign envoys attending the funeral described it as unprecedented.
The commander and hero of the Constitutional movement, Sattar Khan, engraved Baskerville’s name on his rifle, wrapped it up in the holy flag of Iran and presented it to his family.
The artisans of Tabriz also immortalized his profile and name by weaving it into the warp and weft of a handmade carpet as a gift for his family, although it never reached their hands.
The rug woven by the women of Tabriz in 1909-1910 with a pattern of Baskerville’s profile and name for his mother, although it never reached her.
The sacrifice and selflessness of Baskerville has forever recorded his name in the history of Iran where he is cherished for eternity.
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