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Samsun


The maritime region of the port-city    EN

Author: ERLER ΜΕΗΜΕΤ YAVUZ

*Professor of  19 Mayis University, Samsun, Turkey

Samsun developed an important infrastructure after the mid-19th century. In 1847 it possessed a stone pier, for reasons of the military necessities. However, this pier was not to last for too many years, because the moving sand at the bottom of the sea put the pier out of use . The exploration of the coal mine at Eregli/Zonguldak and a small amount of coal in Sinop gave a boost and accelerated the steam line development in the Black Sea[1]. It brought some development in the Samsun port too, and a wooden pier was constructed next to the city centre. This pier was called Dakik (Flour) Pier due to the transferring of grain or mainly sacks of flour. Although it was also mentioned as Yalı Pier in some documents, due to the Yalı Mosque’s existence behind the pier, its main mission was to transfer the agricultural products to the hinterland of Samsun and those from Sivas-Kayseri over Erbaa, following Yeshil river or Vezirkopru-Kırshehir over Kızıl river, towards the port cities of the Black Sea. Samsun became a major supply point during the Crimean War between 1853 and 1856 and had the chance to open up to the European countries. Owing to the Crimean war, Tartars and other migrants from the Crimean flowed into the city in the aftermath of the end of the war in 1856[2]. As the Ottoman-Russian dispute went on, an increasing number of immmigrants continued to flow into the Canik district.

The migration of Caucasians to Samsun and its neighbouring towns increased the population of the city from 1864 onwards[3]. Immigrants who settled into inert agricultural areas familiarized with the tobacco brought by the English from Cuba. The amount of tobacco production drew the attention of the international tradesmen, and tobacco cultivation provided prosperity to Samsun’s hinterland. The road works, which began by the English in 1867 in order to shorten the time for the transportation of grain, copper, leadand tobacco production to the Samsun piers were completed in 1886. The Samsun Tobacco Factory, in particular, operating from 1884, instigated intensive investments also by the Austrians in the region. Also, Russia, England and France started to get their share from the tobacco production in Samsun and its hinterland. As the tobacco cultivation in Samsun supported the tobacco factories in Egypt, the tobacco and cigarettes produced in Samsun started to play a significant role in the port cities of the Black Sea, leading to noticeable developments in the economic and demographic structure of the city of Samsun[4]. Minor industrial products such as guns, rifles and wedges produced by the Caucasian immigrants in the workshops started to find their way into the Middle East markets, while tobacco production increased the economic standard of the tobacco farmers in the rural areas[5]. Textile, machinery, glassware and manufactured iron-steel coming from Europe were transferred to Samsun and its hinterland through the increasing number of ships which led to the construction of more piers. The Majestic and Lloyd steamship companies increased the transported number of passengers and products with regular schedules and transformed the effectiveness and importance of the city in the sea trade activity.

The maritime cities of the Ottoman Black Sea received more interest and trade during the 19th century; their progress was accelerated in the aftermath of 1856. By 1881, there was a significant number of sailing ships and steamships approaching the shores of Trabzon, Samsun and Giresun. In 1881 more than 1,000 vessels of all sizes were approaching the ports of the eastern shore of the southern shore of the Black Sea. Out of these there were 10 deep-sea going sailing vessels above 100 tons entering Samsun carrying a 1,076 tonnage of goods; the coastal vessels above five tons were 69 in total and had a 757 tonnage cargo, they delivered cargoes to be carred further by steamships. Smaller boats were also in business of carrying the goods between the ships, anchored in the open and the piers of the maritime cities. There were 939 smaller boats avalaible in the port at any time with a capacity of 3,511 tonnage delivery.

The movement in the ports of Samsun and Giresun, as far as number and tonnage are concerned, was the same as in the port of Trabzon, belonging to Ottoman, Austrian and Russian steamers and only about half to French, the other half being represented by the Paquet and Company’s steamers. In 1882, four steam vessels, belonging to the Russian Steam Navigation Company, embarked at Giresun. The number of sailing ships that visited Samsun was larged than than of 1881 by 13 Turkish, two Russian, one Greek, one Romanian and one Austrian. The steamships and sailing ships connected maritime port cities of the Ottoman Black Sea to other countries and port towns, as far as London, Liverpool, Marseilles and Trieste, via the Ottoman capital Constantinople[6]. In addition to this, Russian port cities carried out important sea trade with the Ottoman port cities attracting tobacco imports from the region that had been introduced it into Russian markets[7]. The increase in exports, and consequently in imports in 1889 was owed to the abundance of the local crops, together with that of wheat from the Sivas plains, maize from the Charshamba district, oat from Kavak and tobacco from Bafra. The port of Samsun therefore received more deep-sea going vessels in 1889, 119 in number, with a capacity of 21,203 tons[8].

As a result of being a maritime port, the importance of Samsun was made more evident to the inhabitants, who lived in the hinterland. Some migrated to the port to profit as merchants and others as workers, stevedores or seamen. Those who worked in the Samsun port, earned their living as long as the sea conditions allowed for the embarking and unloading. As soon as the sea conditions deteriorated and became stormy, the seasonal workers, having come from the inner lands up to Kayseri and Erzurum, moved to maritime ports elsewhere along the Black Sea to offer their work. The passengers who embarked or disembraked at Samsun belonged to the poorer classes. They were mostly labourers, porters, and the like, on their way to Constantinople in search of employment, or returning homewards from the capital with whatever small profits they might have acquired there. There were about 20,000 labour movements of this kind from Samsun to Constantinople yearly, and as many arrivals recorded in around the 1850s[9].

Samsun also benefited from the external developments in agriculture alike, the French having introduced the potato cultivation and the British the tobacco and corn plants. The addition of these foreign products in the agriculture of the region enriched the profit capacity of the locals in rural areas. At the end of the 19th century, domestic (agriculture bank) and foreign investment (Bank of Athens and Bank of Ottoman) supported the business in the region with reasonable interest rates. The foreign merchandize led to the establishment of consulates in Samsun and the new buildings and even the tobacco factory changed the city planning sharply with the introduction of the European architecture after 1870, the city looking more like a European port-town. The Ottoman State thus struggled to compete with this changing architecture and tried to maintain its influence by constructing impressive and beautiful buildings such as the governor house, the municipality house, schools, mosques and their minarets, along with a watchtower. Also, the Greek and Armenian local communities, were showing off their huge churches and schools in the region, adding a new perspective to the old shanty town of Samsun that was gradually shifting its appearance towards a more conte


[1] Mehmet Yavuz Erler, “The Economy of the Ottoman Black Sea in the XIX th Century”, The Journal of International Social Research, Volume. 2/7, Spring 2009, p.122, 124-125.

[2] Mehmet Yavuz Erler, “Karadenizde Avrupai Bir Kent: Samsun (1865-1875)”, Karadeniz Tarihi Sempozyumu, Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi Yayınları, Vol.I, Trabzon 2007, p. 542.

[3] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. II, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p.780-781.

[4] Mehmet Yavuz Erler & Kerim Edinsel, “Samsun’da Tütün Üretimi (1788-1919)” (Tabacco Production in Samsun (1788-1919) , The Journal of International Social Research, Volume.4, Issue. 18, Summer 2011, p. 230-247.

[5] Mehmet Yavuz Erler, “Karadenizde Avrupai Bir Kent: Samsun (1865-1875)”, Karadeniz Tarihi Sempozyumu, Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi Yayınları, Vol.I, Trabzon 2007, p. 541-543

[6] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. II, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p.764-765.

[7] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. II, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p. 781.

[8] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. III, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p. 1150.

[9] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. I, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014., p.357.


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