Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, September 30, 1859

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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, September 30, 1859



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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, September 30, 1859

action: sent

sender: William Seward
Birth: 1801-05-16  Death: 1872-10-10

location: Jaffa, Israel

receiver: Frances Seward
Birth: 1805-09-24  Death: 1865-06-21

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: cnk 

revision: jxw 2021-09-16


Page 1


Editorial Note

William Henry Seward’s series of travel letters in 1859 are organized and listed by the date of each entry.
Jaffa September 30, 1859.
Monday was a day of proud American display in Jerusalem. Capt.
Birth: 1792-04-22 Death: 1862-03-22
of the Macedonian and Mr Gorham
Birth: 1812-11-03 Death: 1893-04-18
our Consul for that
city were to go down to this place. I desired to meet the ac
French steamer bound to Constantinople and I thereupon found
the party. We set out at a good hour on our progress.
The two great men were ill, and required to be carried,
down the hills as easily as possible, and the procession was
very imposing. First, the two cavasses
of the Consul
with their silver sticks and their cutlasses, then a sumpter
mule with baggage, then the Consul in a [ Tuchtiawaha ]

Alternate Text

Alternate Text: Tahtirevan

a litter inclosed with Turkey muslin curtains bedaz
covered with gilt ornaments carried by two ^driver^ mules
and held steady by two attendants
, then another sumpter
mule, then a platoon of mounted sailors around
them – a sumpter mule, then the Captain in a sedan
chair magnificent in the display of red and green, carried
upon two mules and held steady by four sailors
then a corps of ^Naval^ officers and in then other mules
carrying and asses carrying baggage my companion

and myself and servant
, and the whole f with a
rear rank of Marines. We had for once a cool and
cloudy day and reached the Court at Ramalah
in safety. On Tuesday morning we arrived at the Consulate
in this city. It was a demonstration, a pagent, as the
Page 2

suggestive of reflection as this long and somewhat martial
cortege wound ^its way^ through the Hills of Judea and across the
valley of Sharon. How little was it when the
of Tyre, and the Queen
of Abysinia tried the same road
or when Pompey and ^or Titus ^ or even when the Crusading armies
were travelers to the Heights of Palestine, that a people
then improved established in a contest then unknown
surpassing in wealth power and intelligence all the nations
of Antiquity would be seen in its representatives renewing
its devotion to a religion of Judea by pilgrimage to Jerusalem
Unhappily during our brief and hurried visit at
that city one of those incidents so troublesome to travelers
had occured which threatens to subvert my entire
plan of further travel. Beyruit I think is about 120 or
150 miles from that place on the Coast. A blundering phy-
there gave out that a patient
or two of his had
symptoms similar to those of the plague. This hasty ex-
pression went abroad in a letter or two, to some other
ports in the Mediterranean. Incredibly the story arose
that the plague had broken out not only in Beyruit
but in Jaffa and all the other ports if there are any
in Syria. The French steamer arrived yesterday, lifted
a yellow flag, and refused to take off a passenger,
the Russian Steamer arrived the same day and equally
refused to receive us. To day the Austrian Steamer
Page 3

has also passed by. The town as well as Jerusalem
is full of pilgrims and other tourists, all these here
applied to Capt Levy to take them off, among them
the Princess D. Auvergne
Birth: 1809-07-14 Death: 1889-05-04
of the Napoleon family. But
it is contrary to his orders. He has kindly agreed
to take me, but he sails for Constantinople Alexandria
whereas I desire to go to Constantinople. I have
just been on board to dine with him. I was received
with a salute of seventeen guns, and with many
demonstrations of kindness on the part of the officers and
A year ago the family
x Birth: 1800  Death: 1878-05-27  Birth: 1847-04  Death: 1932-09-17  Birth: 1855-11-16  Death: 1932-08-16  Birth: 1857-04-25  Death: 1935-12-13  Birth: 1833  Death: 1867-12-10  Birth: 1821  Death: 1858-01-12 
of Mr Dixon
Birth: 1799-03-15 Death: 1860-01-21
an American
missionary here was assaulted in the night ^by Bedouin Arabs^ . Their money
and other property taken. The one of the men slain and
two of the women violated. The American government demanded
the arrest and execution of the offenders. The Turkish
Government moved slowly and in bad faith. The American
fleet visited the ports of Syria and demanded promptness
The Sultan
Birth: 1823-04-25 Death: 1861-06-25
became active. Four of the guilty persons

were arrested and convicted but not the one
who had
committed the murder ^escaped^ . They were imprisoned for life
at the gallies. The American government renewed its complaints.
The Turkish government now appointed Ayoum Bey a rich
and powerful Christian Chief of Beyruit a Comission
to effect the demands of justice. I have met him
Page 4

here and found him a very intelligent and able man
He is a native of Syria and belongs to the Maronite
Church. He has given me three beautiful Arabian
horses of which I am to keep one, and present the
other to the Agriculturalists of New York if I please.
I have ordered them to be shipped to the United
. They will be highly appreciated there.
I went to Jerusalem. It is a pitiful town of
about 17000 souls. It could not be larger, for nature is
sterile all around it, and the Bedouin Arab like the
American savage, refusing to cultivate, and terrifying all
others from cultivation has determined that that sterility
shall be unrelieved. Neither manufacture trade nor
Agriculture, nor Government nor any ^soul^ their region
a town to exist at all at Jerusalem. One wonders
to find it there. Why is it there? It is continued as
Rome is, for religious necessity. Three Religions divide
the Eastern world, theyall of which originated in Arabia.
The Jewish, the Christian and the Moslem. All these
derive themselves from the Prophets and Patriarchs of
Jerusalem Judea – Abraham with is the common Father
of the Faithful of all the divines. While Judeans fleeing
from violence and persecution in Palestine has been
rendered impotent in its exile in the West, and
Page 5

while the Mussulman absurdity has never entered there
and ^so^ Christianity has become practically the usual
religion of the civilized nations, the original early
conflict has been kept up in this the original field
of religious controversy. The Jews of all the world
hold Jerusalem to be their own their native home,
the consecrated spot where the Promises were given
to them, when they were established by the Divine authority
forever, where after their appointed sufferings and sorrows
shall be ended the Messiah is yet to come
who under his reign they are to be restored to
more than their ancient greatness and glory, and
when th at the last day the dead of all
ages and nations shall come to meet the
one God of their worship in the Valley of Jehosaphat,
to be judged and to receive the and of blessing
of eternal life, or the curse of eternal damnation.
The Jew reads the Prophesies as assuring him if
forgiveness of his sins if he only shall die in
the Holy City. Hence Jews all over the world
resort to Jerusalem to maintain their rights and to live
among the in safety. There are now some 7000 of them here
and they slightly waver in number. The Christians, secured
the scene of Christs nativity, life sufferings death
and resurrection as belonging rightfully to them
Page 6

who accept his gospel, and as such routinely
they guard the scenes with jealous care partly
from veneration, partly to prevent their being pro-
faned and descrated by the Infidels, and
partly because it may be feared that the surrender
of them to the Infidels might arrest the progress of
the conversion of the world to Christianity. Hence all
^the^ organized churches or ecclesiastical Christian systems
have established here their churches monasteries
or missions, and these are sustained by ever renewed
contributions of Kings and pious persons. Here are the
Greeks, Am the Armenians, the Catholics the Church
of England the Presbyterian, the Baptists, the
7th day Baptists, of our own country, and even
the Copts of Egypt, and the black or negro
Christian Church of Abyssinia. The Mussulman
the Arab, the Turk here won the whole land
by force from the equally from the Jews and
the Christians and has counted the nations
either counted the nations or banished them and
replaced them with disciples of Mahomet
who regard the Jews as a pestilent and imputative
Page 7

accursed of God and unworthy to live, and
they equally regard the Christian as having
perverted and overthrown the worship of the one
only God, by polytheism in their worship of Jesus
Christ and the Holy Ghost. They seek to rescue
the Holy City and save it to the worsh religion
of that God and of Mahomet his prophet. All
the sects are ignorant, superstitious fanatical
and revengeful. A stranger can hardly find what
to choose any guide to discriminate between
them. Demoralized, without tastes, cultivation, litera-
ture or liberal occupations, they live in
perpetual conflict and hostility, all of their
Churches militant. I except of c speak of course
only of the natives, not of the religious who have
come here from their other lands. A country that
does nothing, aims at nothing but propaganda of
religious tenets, becomes necessarily proud ignorant, puerile
savage – and malevolent. Yet such are the people
of Jerusalem and of Palestine. Poverty and filth
meet you every where, but they do not abide the
zeal of the religionists. What will be the end? I am
Page 8

quite sure that the Christian nations represented in Jerusalem
now by only 1500 or 2000 souls all told will not
be able likely to maintain themselves. Mahomotianism
with its social and political systems so inconsistent
with progress will gradually decline here, while the
presence of the Jews will ultimately achieve a
triumph and secure the ancient city and they will
once more count their Priesthood with that of Melchis-