Mr. Heap to Mr. Hunter.
Tunis , April 14, 1874. (Received May 6.)
Sra: A few days ago the prime minister stated to me that the Bey had directed him to call the attention of the foreign consuls to the large number of “protections” given by them to his subjects, as he apprehended that if this practice is continued a large portion of the population of the regency will eventually pass under foreign jurisdiction. He seemed to complain principally of the French authorities in Algeria, who give certificates of nationality to Tunisian subjects after a residence of a few days only over the border. I have granted no “protections” to Tunisian subjects, and the minister readily acknowledged that the Bey had no cause for complaint against the American consulate, but that His Highness desired me to bring the matter to the knowledge of my Government, in the hope that it would sustain him in such action as he might find it necessary to take to put an end to this state of things. I informed the minister that the only Tunisian subjects I claimed the right to protect were those actually in my service, or in that of the consular agents.
I am, &c.,