The Ottomans were always fascinated by the discovery of America and the adventurous life of Christopher Columbus. Several articles, books and pamphlets were published on the subject in the 19th century.
History of America by William Robertson, first printed in 1777, served as a basis for the first Ottoman publications on the subject. Around 1850 a relatively unknown state clerk Abdülgaffar Enisî, who worked a secretary (kâtib) at the Translation Chamber (Terceme Odası) and a corresponding member (âzâ-i hariciyyeden) of the Encümen-I Daniş (Strauss 2014, p. 271), translated the first two parts of Robertson’s work into Ottoman, what was one of the first mentioning of the discovery of America in that language. Abdülgaffar Enisî’s translation ends with the death of Christopher Columbus.
His original manuscript in not preserved, but we can conclude from the information given in the contemporary sources, that the transcriptions, such as our manuscript, were circulating around Istanbul for three decades until the work was finally published in 1880 under the title Amerika Tarih-i Keşfi (Strauss 2014, p. 272).
Only shortly after Abdülgaffar Enisî translation from circa 1850, another author adapted the Robertson’s text. That was Ali Rıza from Cairo, who in 1858 published a book on America titled Tarih-i Amerika. Loosely based on the Robertson’s text, the author had to omit and adjust the passages, to make them acceptably to the contemporary political situation and censorship in the area.
Our book was published a year before the Ali Riza’s book and appears to be an original text by the Ottoman Author Mehmed Raif.
References: OCLC 16519682. BDK – ÖZEGE; 1591; 22639 – TBTK; 4412 – 5557. Cf: Johann Strauss, Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Americana, In: Frontiers of the Ottoman Imagination, 2014.