The Era of President Lincoln

PAPERS RELATING TO FOREIGN AFFAIRS, ACCOMPANYING THE ANNUAL MESSAGE OF THE PRESIDENT TO THE THIRD SESSION THIRTY-SEVENTH CONGRESS

Mr. Thayer to Mr. Seward.

No 10. United States Consulate General, Alexandria, November 13, 1861.

Sir : I have the honor to announce that the viceroy of Egypt has again shown his good will to the United States, by directing the captain of the port of Alexandria to exclude all vessels bearing an unrecognized flag from the harbors of Egypt. Instructions to this effect, I am informed by the minister of foreign affairs, were issued about two weeks ago, in consequence of a suggestion addressed to his highness by this consulate general. At an interview which I had with him on the 3d instant, at Cairo, his highness also assured me that no privateer in the service of the domestic enemies of the United States will be allowed to be fitted out, or to bring its prizes in any port of his dominions.

The following passages, translated from a note sent to me by his excellency Nubar Bey, in behalf of the viceroy, show that in the facilities for obtaining Egyptian cotton our manufacturers are placed on an equal footing with those of Great Britain. The note is dated October 18th, and is in reply to some interrogatories which I had verbally made to the secretary.

“Monsieur le Consul General : I have had the honor to report to his highness, conformably to your desire, what you have said to me on the subject of the words addressed by his highness to the deputation of the Manchester Association for the Extension of the Culture of Cotton.

“His highness has charged me to inform you, Monsieur, that what he has said for any association which may be formed in England, for the above mentioned purpose, he says equally to any which your countrymen may organize.”

At the interview to which I have referred the viceroy repeated this assurance in person to me, saying that he had never intended to exclude my compatriots from an equal share in the privileges accorded to the capitalists of Great Britain.

I may add that at the same interview his highness manifested the liveliest interest in our national affairs, the journals, as he said, being filled with nothing else.

He seemed to appreciate the difference in resources between the government and its enemies, and had no doubt that the government, sustained as it was by so large a majority of the people, would successfully quell the insurrection, though, in consequence of the extent of our southern territory, the contest might be protracted, His highness approved the large scale of our military preparations, saying that the only policy was to push the war, once begun, vigorously to the end, and that half-way measures were as bad in war as in anything else.

The viceroy, who is the son of the celebrated Mehemet Ali, may speak with hereditary authority on questions of this kind. It was very plain, from the tone of his remarks, that our government has lost none of its prestige in his estimation.[Page 854]

A significant piece of news here is that the receipt of intelligence that a squad ron had been sent, by the authorities at Washington, to open the southern ports caused cotton to fall in one day from twenty-five dollars to twenty-one dollars a cantar, (hundred weight.) Twenty-five dollars a cantar is the highest price ever known in Egypt. Prior to this time, the highest figure was twenty-three dollars, the result of the Crimean war. The price is now about eighteen or nineteen dollars the cantar.

The Englishmen have begun to make advances to fellahs on the security of their coming cotton crops, in accordance with the concessions of the viceroy.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,WM. S. THAYEE.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1865p4/ch44

Source: Office of the Historian

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