Mr. Perry to Mr. Seward

No. 68.]

Sir: The news of the downfall of Richmond was brought here from Malta on the 20th instant, by the commander of a Swedish sloop-of-war, and was by him communicated to the Bey. The Bey seized the occasion to congratulate me on this event. The news soon spread, causing much excitement and general satisfaction. Large numbers of natives and foreigners have sought entrance into this consulate, for the first time during my residence here, to felicitate me on this event in our history. The address of Secretary Seward, delivered on the 3d instant, has been printed and circulated in the Arab language.

The army of the Bey, commanded by the presumptive successor to the throne of Tunis, which left here last autumn to make a tour of the regency, has this week returned to the capital, enriched, it is said, with some millions in gold, and loaded with the products of the country, taken from the various tribes. While the Bey’s treasury will be replenished by this act, his future resources will be diminished and the industry of the country discouraged. Such predatory excursions seem to be regarded as the legitimate exercise of governmental authority. It is an accepted maxim here that the masses can be controlled only by keeping them poor.

The visit of the Emperor Napoleon in Algeria seems to cause some discussion about the affairs of Tunis. No good understanding has yet been reached among the high powers of Europe in regard to the political status of this regency.

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Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

P. S.—The Bey has to-day reviewed his troops, and given a gold medal to each of his superior officers and a silver medal to his subordinate officers and privates. The effect of this presentation is said to be excellent. The zeal and fidelity of officers and soldiers are kindled anew, and the moral and physical condition of the troops is represented to be unusually good.

The prevalence of a strange and cruel rumor, of whose truth or falsity I have no knowledge, may illustrate the excitability of the Tunisian populace in regard to American affairs. “Peace proclaimed in America and President Lincoln assassinated at Richmond.” These have been the words bandied through the city from noon to night. Great numbers have flocked to the door of this consulate to ascertain the truth or falsity of this report, and the dragomans were instructed to say that the consul has received no reliable information relative to the matter in question. The names of President Lincoln and Minister Seward have, by recent events, become almost as well known to the populace of Tunis as those of the Bey Mohammed and his minister Sidi Mustafa.