Howard Baskerville

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Howard Baskerville
Howard Baskerville
Born Howard Conklin Baskerville
10 April 1885
North Platte, Nebraska, United States
Died 19 April 1909(1909-04-19) (aged 24)
Tabriz, East Azerbaijan, Iran
Nationality American
Parent(s) Henry Embry Coleman Baskerville
Emma R. Baskerville[1]

Howard Conklin Baskerville (10 April 1885 – 19 April 1909) was an American teacher in the American Memorial School in Tabriz (a Presbyterian mission school in Tabriz, Iran) who was killed fighting for Iranian democracy during the Persian Constitutional Revolution. He has been called the "American Lafayette of Iran." (J. Lorentz)

Life and death[edit]

Baskerville was born in North Platte, Nebraska, and was raised in the Black Hills. Both his father and grandfather were Presbyterian ministers. He graduated in 1907 from Princeton University, where, in addition to studying religion and boxing, he took two courses with Woodrow Wilson (Jurisprudence and Constitutional Government).[2]

The U.S. flag flies over the U.S. consulate near Arg e Tabriz, Iran, during Iran's Constitutionalist Revolution.

In the fall of 1907, Baskerville came to Iran as a missionary. He took a position in the American Memorial School, a missionary school, in Tabriz. There he taught English, history, and geometry to mixed classes of boys and girls and also served as tennis coach and riding instructor. He directed a student production of The Merchant of Venice.

In the spring of 1909, during the Constitutional Revolution of Iran, he decided to raise a volunteer force to defend constitutional democracy. Despite attempts to discourage him by the American consul in Tabriz, William F. Doty, he led about a hundred volunteers attempting to help defend the besieged city against Qajar royalist troops fighting for Mohammad Ali Shah. Baskerville was shot and killed by a sniper while leading a group of student soldiers to break the siege.[3] He was 24 years old.

Baskerville's gravestone in American cemetery in Tabriz.

He has been quoted as saying, "The only difference between me and these people is my place of birth, and this is not a big difference." Baskerville's funeral was attended by thousands, where he was eulogized by Iranian patriots. He was buried in the Christian Armenian cemetery in Tabriz. Tabriz fell to the besiegers five days after Baskerville's death.[4]

In a speech at the funeral ceremony, Hassan Taqizadeh described him as:[5]

"Young America, in the person of young Baskerville, gave this sacrifice to the young Constitution of Iran,..."

An Azerbaijani carpet with his picture woven on it was made by the carpet weavers of Tabriz and meant to be sent to Baskerville's mother in America (but was never sent) in recognition of his courage and sacrifice.


Baskerville picture woven on it was made by the carpet weavers of Tabriz Constitution House of Tabriz

Baskerville always remained an exception in relation between Iran and United States even when the relationship was at its worst stage. In December 1979, during the hostage crisis when a group of American clergymen visited Tehran to soften the relationship. During the group's visit of a mosque, a middle-aged Iranian got up and asked: "Where are the American Baskervilles of today?"[6]

Many Iranian nationalists revere Baskerville. Schools and streets in Iran have been named for him.[7] People visit his grave freely. A "mysterious admirer" is reported "regularly" to place "yellow roses" on his grave.[8]

There is a bust of him in Tabriz's Constitution House bearing the legend "Howard C. Baskerville— Patriot and Maker of History".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Howard C Baskerville
  2. ^ Kinzer, Stephen (2010). Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future. New York: Times Books. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-8050-9127-4. 
  3. ^ Calafi, Farnaz; Dadpay, Ali; Mashayekh, Pouyan (18 April 2009). "Iran's Yankee Hero". New York Times. 
  4. ^ Kinzer (2010), p. 5.
  5. ^ Stephen Kinzer, Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future, Times Books, 2010.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Kinzer (2010), p. 6.
  8. ^ Molavi, Afshin (2005). The Soul of Iran. New York: Norton. p. 218. ISBN 0-393-32597-0. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Lorentz, John H. (1995). Historical Dictionary of Iran. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-2994-0. 
  • Maalouf, Amin (1998). Samarkand: A Novel (translated from French by Russell Harris). New York: Interlink Books. ISBN 1-56656-293-7. 

External links[edit]