General Schenck to Mr. Fish.
the United States,
London, June 11, 1874.
(Received June 22.)
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.
Office, June 1,
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.
Mr. Hay to the
Earl of Derby.
Tripoli, April 27,
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
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
I have, &c.,