So much for the claim that Jews were intruders in Jerusalem. President Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Seward, visited Jerusalem in 1871 and attended Friday evening services at the Churva synagogue in Jerusalem's Old City. It was at least Seward's second visit to Israel. He first visited here in 1859, and his visit aroused a desire in President Lincoln to visit Israel (Lincoln was assassinated in 1865). Here's an interesting tidbit from Seward's writing about his trip.
June 13, 1871--"Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following." [Psalms]Read the whole thing.
We have done so, and we have found it neither a short nor an easy promenade. The city occupies two ridges of a mountain promontory, with the depression or valley between them. The walls of the modern Turkish city have been so contracted with the decrease of the population, as to exclude large portions of the, ancient city. Jerusalem is now divided according to its different classes of population. The Mohammedans are four thousand, and occupy the northeast quarter, including the whole area of the Mosque of Omar. The Jews are eight thousand, and have the southeast quarter. These two quarters overhang the Valley of Jehoshaphat and the brook Kedron. The Armenians number eighteen hundred, and have the southwest quarter; and the other Christians, amounting to twenty-two hundred, have the northwest quarter, which overlooks the Valley of Hinnom.... [Emphasis added. Note the Jewish population was double any other group in the Old City.]
The Jews throughout the world, not merely as pilgrims, but in anticipation of death, come here to be buried, by the side of the graves of their ancestors. As we sat on the deck of our steamer, coming from Alexandria to Jaffa, we remarked a family whom we supposed to be Germans. It consisted of a plainly-dressed man, with a wife who was ill, and two children--one of them an infant in its cradle. The sufferings of the sick woman, and her effort to maintain a cheerful hope, interested us. The husband, seeing this, addressed us in English. Mr. Seward asked if he were an English man. He answered that he was an American Jew, that he had come from New Orleans, and was going to Jerusalem.
We parted with them on the steamer. The day after we reached the Holy City we learned that the poor woman had climbed the mountain with her husband and children, and arrived the day after us. She died immediately, and so achieved the design of her pilgrimage. She was buried in this cemetery [on the Mt. of Olives]. She was a Jewess, and, according to the Jewish interpretation of the prophecies, the Jew that dies in Jerusalem will certainly rise in paradise.