No. 307.
General Schenck to Mr. Fish.

No. 577.]

Sir: Referring to Mr. Moran’s No. 473 and to Lord Derby’s note to him of the 26th of March last, relative to the existence of a traffic in slaves carried on between Tripoli and Constantinople through Malta, I [Page 518] have now to send you, inclosed herewith, a further communication from his lordship, with a copy of a dispatch on the subject from Her Majesty’s consul-general at Tripoli.

This correspondence, while it tends to show a desire and endeavor on the part of the British government in good faith to suppress or discourage this clandestine traffic, discloses also the fact that practices are admitted to still prevail at Tripoli which are, in effect, a continuing connivance there with the detested trade, and that this connivance of the Turkish, authorities is somehow successful and beyond the efforts of the officials at Malta to detect or prevent.

I have, &c.,


The Earl of Derby to Mr. Moran.

Sir: With reference to the note which I had the honor to address to you on the 26th of March relative to the reported increase of the slave-traffic from Tripoli, through Malta, to Constantinople, I have now the honor to forward to you, for your information, a copy of a dispatch which has been received from Her Majesty’s consul-general at Tripoli, in which that officer points out the difficulties which must always exist in the way of the entire repression of this traffic, but also expresses his opinion that it is on the decrease, and that there is no reason for supposing that the Malta police in any way connive at its existence.

A copy of Mr. Hay’s dispatch has been forwarded to Her Majesty’s minister at Washington for communication to Mr. Secretary Fish.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in inclosure in No. 577.]

Mr. Hay to the Earl of Derby.

My Lord: In acknowledging the receipt of your lordship’s dispatch S. T. No. 1, of the 26th ultimo, transmitting a copy of a note and inclosures from Mr. Moran, the chargé d’affaires of the United States, relative to an alleged slave-trade carried on through Malta between Tripoli and Turkey, I have the honor to state that nothing, has come to my knowledge which would justify the imputation on the police authorities at Malta of having sanctioned or connived at a traffic in slaves being carried on through that island.

It is, nevertheless, a fact that Turkish functionaries and military officers of every grade leaving this port for Constantinople, whether via Malta or direct, are generally accompanied by domestic slaves, these latter being provided with passports by the mayor of this town, who is supposed not to furnish these documents until satisfied that the bearers proceed on the voyage as domestic servants and of their own free will. Under this system abuses have no doubt taken place, and those papers have often, I am informed, been furnished to the masters of slaves without any inquiries being made of the slaves themselves, a small bribe given by their masters smoothing all difficulties in the matter. Moreover, the slaves themselves are often willing and anxious to proceed to Constantinople, and assert that they are not slaves when they find that an admission of their real character would prove an obstacle to their departure. While at Malta they are still more unlikely to admit their state and demand their freedom than they Would be here, in consequence of the belief generally prevailing among them—which is diligently kept alive by their masters—that the object of the Malta authorities in endeavoring to set them free is to convert them to Christianity; and they are otherwise induced by threats and promises to assert their willingness to proceed on the voyage, even when reluctant to do so.

With regard to the slave-trade in general, I am happy to be able to report a considerable decrease in the importation of slaves from the interior of Africa and their clandestine [Page 519] shipment from the coast, and a corresponding increase in the trade with the interior in ivory and ostrich-feathers, which would appear to be supplanting the traffic in human beings. The facility with which slaves are able to obtain their freedom under the administration of Samih Pasha, the present governor-general, together with other measures taken by his excellency for discouraging the slave-trade, has no doubt contributed in a great measure to this result.

Samih Pasha has, since his arrival in this country, shown great readiness and promptitude in emancipating slaves for whom I had interceded, and in several instances in which the slaves had, by my advice, made application directly to his excellency, they were also granted their freedom. Samih Pasha’s conduct in this respect contrasts favorably with that of his predecessors. His excellency now assures me that he will take fresh measures for preventing the embarkation of any black people, unless of their own free will and as domestic servants.

Samih Pasha’s action in the matter of slaves has a tendency to make him unpopular among Turkish officials, and the general impression is that it will not be viewed with much favor at Constantinople. It would, under these circumstances, have an excellent effect if the Sublime Porte were to express their approval of his honest endeavors to carry out the many vizierial orders on the subject which had hitherto been virtually disregarded.

I have, &c.,