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James Milton Turner – the First African American U.S. Diplomat – Writes from Canary Islands About No Quarantine
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On his return to Liberia from a visit to the United States, Consul Turner informs Mr. Benjamin that the authorities in Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, are not imposing a quarantine on passengers who land there.

JAMES MILTON TURNER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Mr. [?] Benjamin, April 7, 1873, Tenerife, Canary Islands. 2 pp., 5 x 8 in.

Inventory #26461       Price: $550

Complete Transcript

Teneriffe Apl, 7th 1873
Mr Benjamin
My Dear Sir

            I thought perhaps it would prove of interest to you to hear, that upon our arrival at this place we find no Embargo on the landing of passengers, be they from Maderia [Madeira], or elsewhere.
            Two gentleman passengers in this steamer have just landed, & knowing you desire to visit here provided there is no delay from quarantine I was careful to enquire & found that no quarantine regulations are being enforced
            Please ask at the Custom House, for two demijohns and one box belonging to me, and left because I could not get <2> admission the night of my departure, I mentioned them to Mr Holloway, he promised to have them shipped to me at Monrovia, I fear that he did not quite understand me because of my haste.
            We regret not having met you before we departed.
            The Steamer remains here but one hour. I have not time to procure such material as I would like to write to you on. You will therefore excuse &c.
            We will be happy to hear from you. Wish you a pleasant stay, safe return &c.

                                                            With esteem
                                                            J Milton Turner

James Milton Turner (1840-1915) was born into slavery in Missouri in St. Louis. His father, a “horse doctor,” was allowed to keep some of his earnings and eventually purchased his and his family’s freedom. Turner attended Oberlin College for one term and then a school on a steamboat in the Mississippi River to avoid Missouri’s prohibition against the education of African Americans. During the Civil War, Turner served as a body servant for a Union officer. In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Turner as consul general to Liberia, the first African American in the U.S. diplomatic corps. He held the position until 1878. After returning to St. Louis, Turner helped resettle African American refugees from the South in Missouri and Kansas, and aided Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw freedpeople in the Indian Territory [Oklahoma].

Condition: Expected folds, scattered ink spots, toning, mounting remnants at left edge.

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