Mr. Morris to Mr. Seward

No. 131.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of despatches Nos. 95 and 96. It is with pleasure that I find myself enabled to report another proof of practical progress in the interior of this empire. The isolation of the commercial centres from the marts of the interior, and the difficulties of transportation, as well as the great expense attending the movement of merchandise to the seaports, has induced the government, through its own resources and the aid of foreign capital, to engage of late in an extensive system of road-making. On the 5th of November last the macadamized road, which has been in construction for two years, between Ghemlek, on the sea of Marmora, and the city of Brusa, in Asia, was formally opened for travel. Brusa is about nine hours’ travel from Constantinople, five of which are by steamers to Ghemlek. In the winter season this important city, which contains a population of 70,000 Mussulmen, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, and Franks, for want of a good road to the seaport, has been almost entirely cut off from communication with the capital. It is the seat of an extensive trade in raw silk, as well as manufactured silk and woollen goods, carpets, velvets, safran, turpentine, wool, wine, &c., and possesses an extensive trade with the chief towns of Northern Asia. The new road will secure an easy and more economical means of transportation of its rich and varied products, and will be serviceable at all seasons of the. year.

A few weeks since a railroad has been completed from Smyrna to the city of Magnesia, (Manisa, in Turkish,) about forty miles in length. This is a flourishing city of about 35,000 inhabitants, about one-fourth of whom are Greeks and Armenians, and has largely engaged in the manufacture of cotton and silk stuffs and goat hair shawls, and is on the great road between Smyrna and the most productive regions of Asia Minor. It is also one of the most ancient cities of this part of Turkey, and was a large and opulent city to the latest period of the Roman empire. It is intended to carry the road to Cassaba and Ala-Cheir, two important seats of trade further in the interior.

The railroad which has been in operation for more than a year from Smyrna to Ephesus, a distance of fifty miles, will be finished to Aidin, some thirty miles further, in the coming spring. Hitherto, the wool, silk, carpets, tobacco, &c, have been transported at such heavy rates from the interior, by, the old route from Aidin to Smyrna, as to greatly enhance their cost price, the freight of a ton of tobacco costing about a dollar between these two points. The completion of the road to Aidin and of that to Magnesia will be the source of additional prosperity and commerce to the thriving city of Smyrna.

An active competition exists between Russia and Turkey to secure the transit, trade from Persia to Turkey and Europe. The Russian government, taking advantage of the utter absence of serviceable roads between Trebizond and the Persian frontier, has recently commenced, with its usual vigor, the construction of a paved road from Poti, on the Black sea, via Tauris, Tiflis, &c, to the Persian frontier, and has built a port at Poti. A portion of this road is already in use, and has diverted such a large amount of trade from the old route between [Page 312] Trebizond and Erzeroum and Persia as to oblige the Turkish government to enter upon the construction of a permanent and well-built road from Trebizond to the Persian confines, about thirty-five days distant by the existing route, and which is next to impassable in the winter. A corps of competent engineers and a large working force are engaged upon this road, the completion of which, some five years hence, will be of immense importance to both Turkey and Persia.

As the opening of new arteries of trade are of universal concern, I have deemed it proper to report the above details, as indirectly they have a bearing on our commercial relations with this empire, and it is also but just to the Turkish government that its enlightened efforts to develop the trade and improve the internal condition of the country should be officially made known.

With great respect, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.