The establishment of the autonomous Mutasarrifiyya of Mount Lebanon in 1861 introduced a major factor into the political life of Syria. The Porte under Ali and Fuad Paşas responded to the challenge that the Mutasarrifiyya posed by uniting the two provinces of Damascus and Saida into one. Appointed governor general Mehmed Rashid Paşa aimed to bring the province and the Mutasarrifiyya closer. Rashid stimulated the “Nahda” and helped to promote the concept of Syria as a fatherland. After the death of Ali Paşa in 1871 Rashid was recalled and the behaviour of the new governors general resulted in disaffection and agitation for joining the Mutasarrifiyya or having a similar status, as is clear in the placards of 1880. Antonius regarded these placards as evidence of the rise of Arab nationalism. Actually, they were no more than agitation against mal-administration and a wish to join the Mountain.
Khatir‘Ahd al-Mutasarrifeen fi Lubnan p. 23; Hitti Philip K. Lebanon in History (London: Macmillan 1957 3rd. ed.) pp. 447-8; cf. Jessup H.H. Fifty-Three Years in Syria 2 vols. (New York: Fleming H. Revell company 1910) vol. I pp. 211-12.
See my article“The Sultan and the bureaucracy: the anti-Tanzimat concepts of grand vizier Mahmud Nedim Pasha”International Journal of Middle East Studies21 (1990) 257-74. Nedim served as vali of the province of Saida (the seat of which was Beirut) and Damascus in the years February 1855 to December 1855 in Beirut and then until September 1856 in Damascus. See İnal İbnülemin Mahmut Kemal Son Sadrazamlar (Istanbul: Maarif Vekalei 1940) vol. I p. 260.