By: Mir M.Hosseini
Mohammad Vali Khan, known as Sepahdar Tonekaboni was born around 1848 and made a career as military officer in Naseroddin Shah's army. He was given the title Nasrossaltaneh after repelling nomadic Turcomans that destabilized Northeast of Iran and became the governor of Astarabad in 1884.
He became the head of Zarrabkhaneh for some time but was promptly dismissed. After that he was appointed as the minister in charge of treasury and customs until 1897 when he was appointed as the governor of Gilan. 4 Years later, he was appointed as the governor of Azerbaijan. He then served as the Minister of Post and Telegraph, head of the artillery, chief commander of Qazvin, Gilan and Mazandaran and then Tehran.
During Mohammad Ali Shah's reign, he was sent to Azerbaijan to suppress a revolt in the midst of Constitutional Monarchy Movement. He defected, and probably sided with the revolutionaries and went back to his motherland in Tonekabon and did not return Shah's call to return to Tehran.
Sepahdar Tonekaboni's decision was a turning point in his life and in the Iranian history. Mohammad Ali Shah called him ungrateful and dismissed him from all official duties and took back all his titles. Thereafter, he was welcomed by the revolutionaries in Rasht and because of his military experience, they chose him as the leader of the Revolution Committee. They took over Rasht after the death of the governor and swiftly conquered Qazvin while the Shah's forces, backed by Russian Cossacks blew terror all over Tabriz,
Gilan revolutionaries joined the Bakhtiari forces leaded by Sardar Asad and they conquered Tehran after five days of severe fight with Cossacks.
Because of his old age, Sepahdar Tonekaboni was appointed as the head of the Interim government and later became the first Prime Minister under the Constitutional Monarchy. He kept the same title for two more terms until Vosooghoddoleh took office.
It is known that before his death, most of his properties were confiscated because of his debts, but his suicide on Sep, 19, 1926 came as a surprise that left behind many speculations. His body now rests in Emamzadeh Saleh in Tajrish.