Dr Trendafil Mitev

Foundation of MPO

At the same time emigrants in free Bulgaria had managed to overcome their desperate feelings after World War I [18]. The Bulgarian national liberation movement in Vardar and Aegean Macedonia [19] became more active. In this situation of the beginning of 1922 the Bulgarian emigrants in North America clarified their specific aims to fulfil in the common fight for rejecting the unjust peace treaty after the War. The evolution in ideas finally resulted in the foundation of a Macedonian Patriotic Organization. Its activities enriched the historical tradition of the Macedonian liberation movement, which Bulgarians in North America had created for the last decades.

The formation of a Macedonian Patriotic Organization began with the foundation of local groups in large immigrant centers first in the States and Canada. On November 6, 1921 the Bulgarian colony members in Stilton, Pennsylvania summoned a meeting and founded the Prilep [20] Macedonian Brotherhood. Thirty people enlisted in the organization. On November 20 they elected the first leaders of the organization. They had the purpose of contacting by letters all Macedonian patriotic organizations in America, as well as the Executive Committee of Macedonian Brotherhoods in Bulgaria [21], in order to prepare and organize a common congress of emigrants in North America. On November 21 in Fort Wayne, Indiana the first Macedonian political organization called Kostur [22] was founded.

At the end of 1921 the Macedonian-Bulgarian Brotherhood Prilep was founded in Youngstown, Ohio [23]. Its members also tried to look for possibilities of common collective activities in the future. On March 1, 1922 in Dayton, Ohio a Macedonian organization called Pirin was founded. The first meeting was held in Dimo Ivanov Tsalibanovs house of the village of Zelenitche in Macedonia. Peter Dosev [24] was the organizations leader.

On April 22 1922 on the initiative of Kosta Popov another Macedonian patriotic organization was founded in Ducaine, Pennsylvania, by the name of Nezavisimost (Independence). It included Bulgarians from the towns of Mickysport, Rankin, Homestead, Courtsville, Brownsville, Vilmerding, Claerton and some others [25]. In the first half of 1922 the Lereen Brotherhood in Indianapolis, Indiana developed into a local patriotic organization [26]. In May and June 1922 another local patriotic organization was founded, this time in Detroit, Michigan, by the name of Tatkovina (Home Country). Members in the temporary committee for preparing and summoning a common congress were Andrey Kostov, Atanas Filipov, Hristo Spirov, Simo Balkov, Tom Panas, Lambro Nikolov and Lazar Kochev. There were 250 Bulgarian immigrants present at the organizations first meeting. Fifty of them enlisted as members [27]. Patriotic organizations were formed for Macedonian Bulgarians in New York (Ilinden) and in Lensing, Michigan [28] (Balkansky Kray).

In the second half of 1922 the temporary governing bodies of local patriotic organizations agreed to hold a common congress and form a single union. A group led by Lazar Kiselinchev took the task of composing a project for an organization chart [29]. The document was ready in the middle of September. Now it was possible to hold the First Congress of the Macedonian Patriotic Organization. It started on October 1 1922 in Fort Wayne, Indiana [30]. Delegates were sent from the local patriotic organizations in New York, Detroit, Stilton, Ducaine, Youngstown, Indianapolis, Gerry and Lensing [31]. The groups in Springfield and Cincinnati congratulated the congress by telegraph and made an appeal for unity of all national organizations of Macedonian Bulgarians in America [32].

Atanas Stefanov, a chairman of the Kostur Brotherhood in Fort Wayne [33], was the first to address the First Congress of the Macedonian Patriotic Organization. In his speech he described the tragic fate of their enslaved brothers in Vardar and Aegean Macedonia. He called for the unification of all Macedonian emigrants into a powerful Bulgarian patriotic organization and proposed that the Permanent Board of the Congress be elected. The congressmen elected Mihail Nikolov to be the Chairman of the first congress, and Kosta Popov [34] became his deputy.

On October 2, 1922 the delegates reported of the local patriotic organizations positions. The were unanimous about the fact that Bulgarian immigrants in North America could not stay far from the struggles in enslaved Macedonia to reject the hard clauses of the peace treaty in 1919. All delegates who spoke at the congress emphasized their Bulgarian origin and national identity. When the issue of MPOs aims was discussed, most of the delegates spoke in favor of the idea of creating a free and independent Macedonia. They thought that this strategic aim would neutralize opposition on the side of Athens and Belgrade and would do away with the Great Powers motives that were afraid of the creation of a powerful state on the Balkan Peninsula [35]. If they had their own independent state, the Bulgarians in Macedonia would be saved from forceful denationalization and assimilation. If the future presented a good chance, liberated Macedonia would become a building element in the creation of a Balkan Confederation. The delegates believed that within such a confederation the national unity of the Bulgarian people would be achieved [36].

On October 3 and 4 the congress discussed and voted the organization chart of the Macedonian Patriotic Organization. The delegates elected the first group to become the organizations Central Committee. Atanas Stefanov of Fort Wayne became the Chairman, Trayan Nikolov became a Deputy Chairman, Mihail Nikolov of Fort Wayne was the Central Committees temporary secretary. Atanas Lebamov was chosen for the job of the organizations cashier, and Pavel Angelov of Chicago became a counselor. Members of the Central Committees Controlling Commission were Peter Dosev, Milan Nedev and Stefan Lazarov [37]. On October 4, 1922 the Congress was closed in the afternoon.

The essence and characteristic features of the new patriotic emigrant organization of Macedonian Bulgarians in the USA and Canada are exposed in the clearest way in the Chart of Macedonian Patriotic Organizations in the USA and Canada [38]. The first chapter defines MPOs aims to organize and educate the emigrants in civil values, and to prepare them for fighting in favor of Macedonian liberation and establishment into a state unit in order to guarantee constitutional, ethnic, religious, cultural and political rights and freedoms of all of its citizens. [39] Article 4 in the Chart defines the organizations major means of fight and tactics. In order to achieve the above-mentioned aims, the organization employs the following means: it founds local organizations in the USA, Canada and elsewhere. It publishes newspapers, books and brochures to proclaim the truth of the just Macedonian cause, and it informs public world opinion of the just ways of settling the Macedonian issue. It presents the Macedonian cause to people, legislative bodies, international institutions and associations through memorandums, petitions, expositions, protests, resolutions, etc. It enters agreements with Macedonian legal organizations all over the world, if they have the same aims. It enters agreements with organizations of oppressed peoples of the Balkan Peninsula in order to wage a common war against the abolishment of oppression and possibly to establish a Balkan federation or confederation, in which the whole of Macedonia will be an equal participant. It organizes congresses, meetings, lectures and discussions in order to make the organizations aims popular. It organizes activities of cultural, religious, social and charity character [40].

Articles 5-13 clarify the Macedonian Patriotic Organizations structure and principles of work in local patriotic organizations. The organizations highest body is the Congress, who is summoned each year [41]. If necessary, the chart allows for an extraordinary congress to be held. The delegates are elected by local patriotic organizations. This is done according to the following principle one representative for twenty-five members. Representatives of local organizations present to the delegates authorized written letters of attorney. An organization of more than 50 members can authorize three delegates only. The Congress evaluates the Central Committees work during the past mandate, it draws general aims for the future work and elects a Central Committee of the Macedonian Patriotic Organization.

At the basis of MPO are the local patriotic organizations. In order to form such an organization, five members at least are necessary. The Central Committee recognizes each new organization at the Congress. Only one local Macedonian Patriotic Organization can exist in one town or city, in order to avoid doubled activities and confrontation. An organizations member can be anyone older that 18, born in Macedonia, or whose parents are Macedonian, and he should accept and support the aims and the chart, and obliges himself to follow all its instructions. [42] Youth and women sections were created as an addition to the local patriotic organizations.

MPOs work between the congresses is governed and executed by the Central Committee. A member of the Central Committee can be anyone who has been MPOs constant member for at least five years, and has fruitfully served the Macedonian cause of freedom and independence [43]. The Central Committee oversees the fulfillment of tasks related to the organizations final purpose. It presents MPO to all organizations and people that are factors in Macedonias liberation movement, it keeps MPOs records and reports of its work on all five-year congresses. The Controlling commission checks the Central Committees work at least twice a year and it also reports to the Congress [44].

MPO finances its activities by a collecting a membership fee (50 cents for men and 25 cents for women). Fees are collected each month. Each organization is obliged to send also half of the income from evening meetings, friendly gatherings, festive dinners, picnics, etc., as well as finances from gifts on different occasions. According to the chart, the Central Committee may also ask for voluntary charity gifts. MPOs funds are deposited with a trustworthy bank under the Central Committees name. Necessary funds are drawn by at least two members of the Central Committee, one of which should be the Committees cashier [45].

The last chapter of MPOs chart, General Arrangements, clarifies some untypical cases related to the organizations activities the organizations stamp is described, the Central Committees headquarters are defined. There are also clarifications on how to finalize the work of a local patriotic organization that has dissolved. Article 28 emphasizes that if the organization reaches its final purpose, Macedonias liberation, this will not bring the organizations end. This would only change its aim according to the congresss decisions. Records, flags and other historical objects of value kept by MPO would be handed in to the first National Parliament of liberated Macedonia [46]. Extremely important is the note to Article 28, saying The use of concepts of Macedonians and Macedonian emigrants in this chart are equally valid for all ethnic groups in Macedonia Bulgarians, Rumanians, Turks, Albanians, etc, and in this case they have geographic, rather than ethnographic, significance [47]. This part of the chart makes it impossible to equate MPOs ideas to Yovan Zviichs Macedonian theory, whose greatest opponent in North America is precisely MPO. During the whole period between the two World Wars the Organization was established and acted as an independent legal emigrant structure of Macedonian Bulgarians [48], devoted to the struggle to eliminate negative consequences of the peace treaty in the end of World War I.

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18 , . /1919 1941/, ., 1983, . 8 .

19 , . , . 2, Lovrain, 1965, . 64 .

20 1940, . 256.

21 .

22 , . 258.

23 , . 254.

24 , . 256.

25 , . 269.

26 , . 278.

27 1940, . 247 249.

28 , . 263, 267.

29 , 1989 . . ,

30 , ., /1919 1945/, ., 1993, . 14.

31 .

32 1940, . 223.

33 , . /1893 1941/, ., 1983, . 17 .

34 , . ,. 14 .

35 , . ,. 17 .

36 , 1927 . . , , , 1927, . 3 .

37 Golden book (1922 1972), MPO of USA and Canada, 1972, p. 10.

38 : Indianapolis, USA, 1932.

39 .

40 , 5 - 6.

41 . 7 12.

42 , . 12.

43 , . 13.

44 , . 14.

45 , 15 16.

46 , 17 18.

47 , . 19.

48 Golden book, p. 12.

* The Central Committee presents the first written report in 1925