Mr. Heap to Mr. Seward.
Sir: On the 27th of December, 1867, two hundred of our fellow creatures died of hunger in the streets and ruined tenements of this city.[Page 178]
The daily average of deaths from this cause alone is considerably over one hundred, and the prospect for the future is gloomy in the extreme.
The foreigners resident here do what they can, and there is a great deal of private charity, but after providing for the first necessities of their own (the European) poor, little is left for the wretched natives.
In this city we rarely hear of any eases of violence. Latterly, the murder of a Jew created a sensation, which proved how rare such acts are; but I regret to learn that the same tranquillity does not prevail in the interior, where the Arabs, driven to despair, attack and pillage travelers and even caravans.
It is sickening to meet in our drives and walks the corpses of those who have perished on the roadside.
A well authenticated case of starvation in the United States thrills the community with horror. Imagine, sir, a whole population stricken with famine, and hundreds dying daily for want of food.
I am forbidden to appeal through the papers to the proverbial charity and liberality of my fellow countrymen. But such an appeal, if made under the authority of the department, cannot fail to have a good effect.
My pen is totally inadequate to describe the heart-rending scenes we daily witness, and it is dreadful to hear the cries of the hungering wretches at night.
These poor creatures seem to be forsaken by the whole world. They have no friends on this side of the grave. Should America, out of her abundance, send succor to them, what a reflection it will be on those nations so near to them, but so cold and indifferent to their sufferings.
They have no claim on us for help as the Irish had, except that of a common humanity. How much more would the unexpected bounty be appreciated, coming so opportunely and from so far.
Coarse bread and common woolen stuffs can be had at reasonable prices, and that is all these people need to keep them from suffering.
I venture to make this appeal to the department in the hope that it may be induced to bring it prominently before the public. Many here look to the United States for help. They have heard so much of our liberality to other nations in distress, that they cannot but hope some small share of it may be extended to this starving people.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.