Mr. De Long to Mr. Seward.

Sir: I have the honor to enclose a copy of a telegram and two letters, addressed by Horatio J. Perry, United States charge d’affaires at Madrid, to Captain Craven, of the United States ship-of-war Tuscarora, in relation to the arrest of Myers and Tunstall, which have been transmitted to me by said legation, accompanied with a letter of congratulation upon the subject, which I also enclose.

[Page 870]

In making the arrest I acted with a full knowledge of what I believed to be the law, and with a view of restraining these men from committing further depredations upon our commerce.

I pursued the whole thing step by step, using the utmost caution to avoid leading my government into trouble, although on the 26th of February my life was in the greatest possible danger, brought about by Captain Semmes, of the pirate Sumter, through the interference of the governor of Gibraltar, as well as nearly the entire European population of Gibraltar and this place, where money was offered freely to the mob if they would secure the release of the prisoners.

I believe I was the only man in the place on the day of the mob that was not excited. Even Prince Muley Abbas, who is residing here at present, and who is said to be a very intelligent, mild, innocent sort of a man, when he heard of the mob, made the remark—“what the devil have the Christians to do with the American consul’s prisoners.”

During the short time I have been here my whole time and attention has been devoted to the interest of my government, and what is my reward ! Last evening three letters came to this place addressed to different parties, from Brown, my late predecessor, informing them “that the Senate had not confirmed my appointment, and that the President had appointed a Mr. McMath, of Ohio, in my place, and that he would be here shortly.”

This information came at a very inopportune moment, as it will be freely circulated throughout Europe that I have been recalled for my arrest of Myers and Tunstall, and besides, what effect this news may have upon the minds of the Moorish authorities is yet to be revealed.

On the 10th instant the United States steamer Kearsarge paid a visit to this place, to inquire after the safety of the United States consulate, pursuant to the event of the 26th of February, which interview was very interesting. Assurances of the protection of the United States consulate, as well as the kindly relations between the United States government and this country, were entertained by the Moorish minister at the time. Arrangements were also made about exchanging a salute, which took place shortly after.

The Kearsarge remained here until the next day, and then returned to Algeciras.

I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.


No. 1.]

Pray take the Tangier prisoners in custody aboard your ship if it can be done without losing sight of the Sumter.

HORATIO J. PERRY, Charge d’ Affaires.

Captain Craven, Abordo vapor Tuscarora, Algeciras.


No. 2.]

Captain : After welcoming you to this coast, where the presence of the privateer Sumter has long called for the attention of our navy, I beg to say that Mr. Sprague, United States consul at Gibraltar and consular agent for Algeciras, [Page 871]has reported to me the arrest by United States Consul De Long, at Tangier, of a person calling himself a lieutenant of the Sumter, in company with Mr. Tunstall, late United States consul at Cadiz, who was deprived of his consulate for alleged infidelity to the government he was serving.

In reference to this case I feel it my duty to inform you that I do not regard the proceeding alluded to in the way it seems to have struck Mr. Sprague, according to his communication to you of the 19th instant.

The rules of neutrality vary in different states, and especially the rules which obtain among civilized nations are not applicable to the Mahomedan or semi-barbarous powers. Consuls enjoy, in Morocco, an almost absolute jurisdiction over the persons of their fellow citizens or subjects, to the exclusion of the local jurisdiction of the town, or that of the Emperor.

Mr. De Long, therefore, infringes no rule of public law in arresting a citizen of the United States within his jurisdiction, for the crime of treason or for robbery on the high seas, any more than if the arrest were for any other crime, and I beg you, if you can manage it without losing sight of the Sumter herself, to attend to Mr. De Long’s request, and to receive the persons he has arrested aboard your ship as prisoners, to be taken home to the United States for trial under our laws.

A telegram to the same effect has been sent you to-day, of which please find copy enclosed.

Respectfully your obedient servant,

HORATIO J. PERRY, United States Charge d’ Affaires.

Captain Craven, Commanding United States steam corvette Tuscarora, at Algeciras.


No. 3.]

Captain : A telegraphic despatch last evening tells me of the arrival of the Kearsarge at Cadiz. Information has already reached me by mail that our consul, Mr. De Long, was in some trouble at Tangier on account of the arrest of Messrs. Myers and Tunstall, referred to in my letter of February 26. But as I have subsequent notice that these persons were safely embarked aboard the Ino and had arrived in her at Algeciras, it is to be hoped that all difficulty has ceased at Tangier. If, unfortunately, this should not be the case, you will allow me to express my opinion that the just and patriotic action of our consul ought to be sustained at all hazards, and the honor and authority of our consulate general at Tangier must be maintained. From my information it seems that the Moorish authorities have, from the first, been well disposed and their action unobjectionable; the whole difficulty is supposed to have arisen from the intrigues of other foreigner at Tangier, to which, perhaps, the authorities of Gibraltar are not wholly strangers. But neither the government of Great Britain nor that of any other Christian power can ever have authorized, nor will it sanction, such proceedings. The act of Mr. De Long was perfectly legal and proper, and was performed in the legitimate exercise of precisely the same kind of authority claimed and exercised by all the consuls of the Christian powers over the subjects of their respective governments found within their jurisdiction.

It is not probable in any case that the secession sympathies of a few of the subordinate authorities of Great Britain will be powerful enough to lead that government into the mistake of attempting, in any way, to diminish the consular authority and jurisdiction of the Christian powers in the Mahomedan states, or [Page 872]authority and jurisdiction which England, more than all others, is interested to maintain.

Whilst, therefore, I would recommend much and careful consideration to be manifested towards the Moorish authorities at Tangier, if the position of our consul is at all compromised at that place by recent events, I hope you will sustain him with all the force you may have available for the purpose, exacting from those authorities all the respect and defence and protection which it is their duty to give him.

A prompt and energetic demonstration by you before Tangier, with even a very small force, would probably tell better for the interests of our government in its moral effects upon the Moors than a much larger expedition later, when disputes may have intensified the evil, and delay rendered the position of our consul worse. I repeat it is to be hoped that all troubles will have ceased with the withdrawal of the prisoners. You are upon the spot and will be better able to judge of the state of things than I can; it is my purpose to speak only of the diplomatic and political bearings of the supposed difficulty at Tangier, and of such action as it might become your duty to take in view of certain circumstances of which you will have better knowledge than I have, but it might be well at any rate, whenever the exigencies of your blockade of the Sumter will permit, to visit the anchorage of Tangier in a friendly way, as it is some time since the Moors have seen our flag displayed by a man-of-war at that port.

I write to you as senior officer of the little squadron now present near the Straits of Gibraltar and, as I suppose, in command of all the ships. If I am in error please pass this communication to the flag-officer, whoever he may be, and believe me, sir, with much respect, your most obedient servant,


Captain T. Augustus Craven, Commanding United States War Steamer Tuscarora, at Algeciras.


Sir: Your spirited and patriotic action in arresting, within your consular jurisdiction, Messrs. Myers and Tunstall, was reported to me by Mr. Sprague, of Gibraltar, in the course of his official duty as consular agent for Algeciras.

Allow me to offer you my personal compliments for that proceeding, which will certainly be appreciated by the President and commended by our people.

Mr. Sprague seems to have been a little fearful at first that you might have exceeded the strict limits of your authority in that proceeding. He is an experienced and able officer, but, perhaps, in this instance has been led involuntarily to measure the extent of your consular duties in some degree of the rules which would govern his own. Your position, however, is entirely distinct from that of any consul in a Christian state, and I did not therefore hesitate, as soon as the affair was known to me, to request Captain Craven, of the Tuscarora, to aid and sustain you in every respect. From subsequent accounts I suppose that this was, in fact, done spontaneously on his part or on that of the Captain of the Ino before my communication could have reached him. I have no doubt it was well done.

As Mr. Sprague has informed me since that there was Or had been some disturbance in Tangier, and that you might still be molested on this account, I have again written to Captain Craven giving him my idea of some of the political considerations connected with the affair, and the opinion that you ought to be sustained at all hazards. Enclosed you will find press copies of these communications, [Page 873]and I beg you to command my aid and service in any way that may be useful to you or to the good service of our country.

Very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,


James De Long, Esq., United States Consul, Tangier.