Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Edmund Randolph, 24 June 1794

From Edmund Randolph1

Philadelphia, June 24th. 1794


Some time ago I mentioned to the President the necessity of attending to the act, granting a million of Dollars for foreign intercourse;2 it being always understood, that this large vote contemplated our negociation with the Dey of Algiers. He wrote to you upon the subject,3 which was permitted to rest; until some prospect opened for a successful application of the money. This prospect appears now to be opened, first from the quarter of Mr. Humphreys4 our minister in Lisbon, and secondly, from the exertions of Mr. Gouverneur Morris, our minister at Paris, as indicated in the inclosed letter from him of the 7th of March last.5 It is difficult to say what will be the upshot of the affair, but holding it to be my duty to get the appropriation placed in such a manner as to be eventually ready for the exigency; I take the liberty of requesting you to turn your thoughts to the most effectual means of accomplishing this end; in order that any critical moment may be seized for the relief of our suffering fellow Citizens in Algiers, and for putting a stop to the ravages of the Corsairs. Some instructions are rendered immediately indispensable, lest our two Ministers should clash, and the money is an ingredient, without which instructions would be unavailing. You will oblige me therefore, by as early information, as may be convenient, how my course is to be shaped in this particular.

With great respect and esteem   I have the honor, Sir, to be Yr. mo. ob. servt.

Edm: Randolph

LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 6, January 2–June 26, 1794, National Archives.

1For information concerning the difficulties of the United States with Algiers and the financial provisions for negotiations, see Willink, Van Staphorst, and Hubbard to H, November 18, 1793, note 2; Thomas Jefferson to H, December 12, 1793; George Washington to H, May 24, 29, 1794; H to Washington, May 27, June 4, 1794; Henry Knox to H, April 21, 1794, note 1.

2“An Act making further provision for the expenses attending the intercourse of the United States with foreign nations; and further to continue in force the act intituled ‘An act providing the means of intercourse between the United States and foreign nations’” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 345 [March 20, 1794]).

3Washington to H, May 24, 29, 1794.

4David Humphreys, United States Minister Resident at Portugal.

5The letter from Gouverneur Morris, addressed to Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State, reads in part as follows: “Shortly after the intelligence of hostility by the algerines I applied to the minister of foreign affairs as being interested in putting a stop thereto in order to cover the arrival of provisions in our ships. It was agreed that this republic should … endeavor to obtain a treaty with the algerines. But as it was uncertain whether the dey would negociate such treaty with the agents of france I was desired to name one for the United States.… I agreed to make the appointment of a … naturalized citizen of america to accompany the french commissioners. He will appear as a french man unless circumstances call for the production of his powers. My instructions to him, after stating my want of authority, are in substance to aid in obtaining the best possible treaty for the smallest possible sum … and to procure the liberation of our captivated fellow citizens. The French commissioners are not yet gone tho it is now two months since every thing was agreed on …” (copy, RG 59, Despatches from United States Ministers to France, 1789–1869, Vol. 3, June 17, 1792–March 7, 1794, National Archives). On January 30, 1794, Humphreys had written to the Secretary of State and enclosed an offer of an armistice from the French consul at Algiers (ALS, Despatches from the United States Ministers to Portugal, Vol. 5, January 30–November 29, 1794, National Archives). Jean Antoine Joseph Fauchet, the French Minister to the United States, also expressed interest in helping to negotiate a peace, and on June 6, 1794, Randolph wrote to him: “Your letter, of the 4th. of June, is a powerful demonstration of the interest, which the Republic of France takes in our welfare. I will frankly communicate to you our measures and expectations, with regard to Algiers; but as you will so soon receive the detail of those measures, which your government have pursued in our behalf, and, after the rising of Congress some new arrangement will probably be adopted by the Executive, it will be better perhaps to postpone our interview on this matter …” (LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 6, January 1–June 26, 1794, National Archives).

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