Diplomatic Mission to Abyssinia 1903


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A report on the US diplomatic mission to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 1903
  THE DIPLOMATIC MISSION TO ABYSSINIA, 1903ByBernard C. NaltyThe pla1n seemed to sprlng to llfe as the mornl-ng sunstruck the gaudy shlelds, gleamlng spears, and gllEtenlng bodlesof the mounted Afrlcan warrlors. Horses, mules, camels, andeven zebras pnanced and cavorted as the Abysslnlan cavalrysurged forward for a closer look at the palesklnned forelgners.Nablve offlcers fLalLed away wlth wfllp-llke wands trylng tohold thelr men ln fot:matlon, but to no avaiL. A tldal_ wave ofshoutlng hurnanlty 'swept onward--Menellk II, Conquerlng Llon ofJudah and Emperor of Abysslnla, was weLcomlng a band of Amerl-can dlplomats to hls capltal, Addls Ababa. (1) Thls tumultuousscene rnarked the cllmax of a 500-n11e trek from DJiboutl., FrenchSonallland over fhe rugged wastelands to the heart of Memellkrsklngdom.On 19 November 1903, at the dusty rallhead of Dlrre Daualess than ftalf way to Addls Ababa, Captaln George C. Thorpeand 19 Marlnes cllmbed down fron an anclent, creaklng traln.Here they met the Jounclng mul-e whl-ch they would rlde the r.estof the'way and saw the hulklng camels whlch wouLd carry thelrsupplles. Corrunanded y Lleutenant CharLes L. Hussey, USN, andrelnforced by slx blueJackets, they would guard the flrst Amerl-can dlplomatlc mlsslon to nnysslnla. (2) The dlplomats, underthe able dfu.ectlon of Commlssloner Robert P. Sklnner, were towangle from Memellk trade prlvlleges slmlLar to those he al_-ready had granted the French and Russlans. (3)  Before pushlng on to Addls Ababa, Conmlssloner sklnnerwished to vlslt the town of Harrar where Ras Makonnen,Menellkts most trusted lleutenant, held sway. During the 32-mIle Jaunt, the Marlnes became excellent mule handlers. Theyhad no cholce, for Thorpe had decreed that any man whose mulebroke down would have to take brld1e 1n hand and lead thebeast. A few mlnutest care was an excellent lnvestnent on / t, \ that dusty road to Harrar . \*lAccompanled by a hundred warrlors, Ras Makonnen, a thln,ascetlc-looklng man, met the Amerlcans at the edge of town.The ruler htrmse]f Led the way, a wooden wand l-2 feet longclutched flrmly ln hls hand. The unwary trlbesman vtho wanderedonto the road would snap to hls senses when the stlck came /e\ wh1st1lng down upon hls head.\//At Harrar the Amer lcans were quartered 1n a palace bulltby slave8, Itallan soldlers captured ln the war of 1896.Menellk htmself had l1ved ln the bulldlng; but when Satan h1m-self took to hauntlng the royal bedchanber, the klng had trans-ferred hls capltal to Addls Ababa. Perhaps the devll felt aklnshlp wlth elther dlplomats or Marlnes, at any rate he dlo IA\ not put 1n an appearance durlng thelr stay. \ /From Harrar the expedltlon returned to Dlrre Daua' F1-na1ly on 29 November he Amerlcans started off toward thecapltal . They moved n three sectlons: an advance party 1edby Lleutenant Hussey, the maln caravan, and a rear guard, fourMarlnes and a sallor under Captaln Thorpe. Natunally, each l-t\ sectlon had lts share of camel drlvere and guldes. \ r,|2
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